A review of Kenya’s World Cricket league Tour of Namibia


Unfortunately iIhave left this blog to wither a bit and first things its to apologize for that. Sorry.

Anyway, this post is to share some thoughts on Kenya’s World Cricket league matches against Namibia, in Namibia. It is not every day that a team marches into such an assignment with so much acrimony any yet comes out the other end so successful. That is what happened here.

Kenya team set out to Namibia on the back of a player protest to remove the legendary Steve Tikolo as coach of the team, Kenya found themselves heading to Namibia with an interim captain (who had been out of the team for over a year) and an interim coach, that was actually the outgoing captain.

They came back having beaten Namibia twice and sitting  joint top of a WCL Division 1 group they are only a part of because of the International Cricket Council Being the International Cricket Council.

The victories featured a swashbuckling 80 (off 58 deliveries) from Rakep Patel in the first game, and an amazing team bowling effort in the second in which Namibia folded to 123 all out.

Rakep Patel cuts loose in his 80 against Namibia (source: espncricinfo)

On a certain level this series vindicates the players (mostly the same bunch who have struggled to match Namibia on the field in the recent past) in their complaints regarding the kind of coaching they had been getting from preceding Cricket Kenya appointed staff.

It should also give the players a stronger hand  if the promised ‘review’ of national team management will go ahead. Hopefully it will allow for a level of dialogue that will finally put some of these cyclical tugs-of-war between board and players to bed.*

 

With Scotland, Netherlands,  Hong Kong,  Papua New Guinea,  and Nepal still to go, there is still a lot of cricket to play. And if they come through that gauntlet, they and one other team will proceed to another World Cup Qualifying tournament, in which they will play the bottom 6 teams in the ICC’s ODI rankings, for the opportunity to feature in the 2019 World Cup in England.

  • NB: I am an unabashed optimist
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Kenya 2014 Cricket Tour to S0uth Africa: A Review


It has been a good week for Kenya’s men’s’ national team. In fact it has been a very good week. In my previous post I previewed the participation of the men’s national team in the Africa 6s challenge and the ACA cup. So now it only makes sense to review their performance in said tournaments.

Kenya made it to the final of the 6s challenge, after beating Namibia, Tanzania and Uganda, only tome up short against South Africa in the final. In the round robin Africa Cup, their three wins, tied match (there are no draws in limited overs cricket), and one loss were enough to win the tournament ahead of Uganda and a Zimbabwe Invitation XI.

The successes of the tour were built on the fine form of the batting line up. Collins Obuya’s 127 against South Africa’s Invitation XI, was the cherry on the cake, as he Rakep Patel, Narendra Patel, Alex Obanda, and Morris Ouma, all managed 50+ scores at some point in the ACA cup and the 6s challenge. On the whole the batting unit showed a resolve and determination which has not always been there in the past two or three years for Kenya.

The most encouraging thing was Alex Obanda bullied most of the attacks he faced while opening Kenya’s batting (Source:Streamjunction.blogspot.com)

The bowlers were also, for the most part incisive. Except for the ‘death overs’ when, it seems a slight lack of execution meant opponent like South Africa and Namibia were able to force the pace, despite being down to their last two batsmen. The Ngoche brothers (Nehemiah, Shem and James were the star performers in this regard)

Nonetheless on the whole the tour was on the whole, a plus for the men’s team, and bodes well for the World Cricket league Division II matches in February next year. The competition will be stronger, as in addition to Namibia, Netherland and Canada (teams with recent World Cup exposure) will be there and they will be contesting two promotion slots to get back into Division I, and the Intercontinental Cup.

The Rise and Rise of Rakep, and Other Stories


This blogger has heard it on the grapevine that Rakep Rajendra Patel, is set to be confirmed as the captain o the Kenya men’s national cricket team. The Top Order bowler slash part time off spin bowler slash back up wicket keeper has been in the national team since 2007 is  be taking over the captaincy from Collins Obuya, who had been captain of the team since 2011

Cricket Kenya Logo
Cricket Kenya Logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I believe (though not 100%) that at just over 24 years old Rakep has become the youngest person to be handed the reins of the national cricket. The next youngest (as far as my memory tells me) being when a 25 year old Maurice Odumbe was asked to captain Kenya’s team to the 1996 Cricket World Cup.

I feel, that circumstances aside, his appointment represents a unique opportunity for the national team to take a new direction under a person, hopefully for the betterment of the team as a whole.

Mind you this is not Rakep’s first ever significant captaincy assignment, as he has a back ground of captaining Kenya’s U19 national team, the EAPL franchises Kanbis Tigers and Express Ndovu as well as being a leading light in the Kanbis ‘A’ team that has pretty much dominated the NPCA leagues this past decade.

In addition to that, with former Kenya captains: Collins Obuya, Morris Ouma, Thomas Odoyo, Ragheb Aga, and possibly Steve Tikolo active and available for selection, he will not lack for a ‘council of elders’ to harvest input from

His immediate task is to rally the team to get one of the last two slots for the 2015 Cricket world Cup in Australia and New Zealand, that will be contested in New Zealand early next year. What is on the line is not just a 6th consecutive appearance on the biggest stage in world cricket for Kenya’s men’s team, but access to a bunch of grants and credits which are presently the largest source of steady funding for Cricket Kenya as a organization.  They will pretty much be playing for their livelihoods there.

This will not be easy given Kenya won only 4 of the 10 matches against the teams they will be facing in New Zealand, in the earlier  stages of the qualifiers.

Nonetheless, he can take heart that they did beat Ireland, who booked an early ticket to said world cup by winning the WCL league, fairly convincingly, so the ability is there.

In conclusion this blogger assumes that the appointment  of Rakep Patel is made with the long term in mind. let us hope that it goes well. GOOD LUCK TO YOU RAKEP!

T20 World Cup Qualifying: #Kenya’s Progress so Far


The International Cricket Council’s final qualifying tournament for the 2014 t20 World Cup took off in earnest in Dubai late last week. At this point, Kenya are in third in group B, with two wins (against Denmark and Scotland), and two losses (against Nepal and Papua New Guinea). They have a massive +2.094 net run rate (the cricket equivalent of goal difference) on their side, but they still have to play Afghanistan, Netherlands, and a resurgent Bermuda before the group rounds of the tournament ends.

Its still very feasible that if Kenya can all win these matches that they could top the group and book a World Cup place at the first opportunity, skipping the very contrived system of playoffs which the ICC put in place for the the teams finishing 2nd to 4th in each group to fight over 4 of the 6 places set aside for associates/affiliates at the world cup altogether.  On the other hand if they joke and they lose games, they might miss even that opportunity to make their first t20 world cup since 2007

So far the biggest positive has been the Kenya’s batting. I was one of the harsher critics of asking some of the old guard to suit up and join the team’s qualifying attempts at the tournament, but truth be told, Steve Tikolo’s presence at the top of the order has given Kenya’s batting an early momentum that was so sorely lacking the last time the team were in U.A.E.  Having said that the biggest sign of this shift in confidence was Rakep Patel’s barnstorming 103 (one of three so far in the tournament) in the loss to Nepal. Hopefully him and the other batsmen will continue to fire at all cylinders

Though they were slow starters, the bowling unit has also seemingly got into gear, thanks again to the interventions of Steve Tikolo, and Thomas Odoyo. In the Scotland win their timely wickets and economic spells, transformed what was looking like a healthy run chase by Scotland, of Kenya’s 183, into a cataclysmic collapse. the Scots ended up all out for 91.

Overall this blogger blogger feels that at this point, Kenya’s fate is very much in our own hands, and if they can build on the confidence from the win against Scotland, to win at least one of the games against the Dutch and the Afghans (who also have world cup experience in their squads) and are alert enough not to be stunned by Bermuda, then getting to the world cup should be guaranteed.

The importance of being yourself: A review of #Kenya’s #cricket tour of U.A.E


Kenya’s national cricket team have been in The U.A.E for most of the last fortnight. They were there on the urgent business of breathing new like into their faltering World Cup Qualifying and Intercontinental Cup campaigns. The opponents on this tour would be Canada. A team with even dimmer hopes of success in these competitions than, Kenya, but one that Kenya has struggled to dispatch from time to time. As it was, Kenya swept the ODI World Cup Qualifiers and took a maximum 20 points in the 4 day Intercontinental Cup tie. The only blemish being sharing the largely inconsequential (in the sense that only pride was at stake) t20 series 1-1.

The ODI And intercontinental cup wins were built on the back of several individuals sticking to their strengths in spite of the fact that they ran counter to popular perception of the best way to in about being successful in the various forms of cricket. I’m going to highlight 3 in particular. Irfan Karim, Rakep Patel and Nehemiah Odhiambo.

I’ll start with Irfan. The first time this blogger heard about him was from the captain of my high school cricket team, who couldn’t stop raving about this kid he had seen in a rival school that had mastered all all the stuff that we were still coming to grips with in the school senior team. Since then he’s popped up from time to time on this blog as I’ve covered Kenya’s youth team. Together with Emmanuel Bundi and Lucas Oluoch, he represents the best of Cricket Kenya’s nascent youth development programme. From there, it was his break out season as the anchor of the championship winning Coast Pekee batting lineup and straight into the Kenya team against Ireland in September of last year. Throughout, his batting method has defied the popular trend of explosive, hyper aggressive ‘modern’ One Day openers. It has been more of a slow yet, certain accumulation of runs built on staying in and staying in and staying in. Yet it was that patience and composure that was so key in Kenya’s opening ODI win against Canada. A patient 65 anchored Kenya to a wicket victory 6 win. The 2nd match saw a more aggressive Karim, but more importantly it saw him rewarded with his maiden One Day Century, as Kenya overcame a helter skelter start from the Canadians to close out a second 6 wicket win.

The second player I’m looking at is rather different. A product of the Kanbis Cricket Club, Rakep Patel, has been in the national squad for several seasons, yet his obvious talent has yet to be harnessed as he has only really started to get a defined role within th team. Coming in on the back of several years of topping the NPCA runs charts, he has seen himself plugged into pretty much every gap in Kenya’s batting schemes without ever really settling to a set role. On this tour, he was batting in the middle order, and though in the one day games were a foregone conclusion by the time he came in to bat, his intervention in the 1st innings of the intercontinental cup was as game changing as any I’ve witnessed in a 2 innings game. Canada were on a high, having squeezed an extra 112 runs out of their last 3 wickets of their 1st innings, and the Kenyan innings was starting to wobble when he came out to bat at No. 5. Conventional wisdom says in that situation the smart thing to do is, consolidate, take it easy, get your eye in (says the cricket jargon for it) and so on. Rakep on the other hand, in partnership with Tanmay Mishra, attacked the Canadian bowling right from ball number one, and just like that Kenya’s score went from 91/3 to 201/3. The best part of the innings was it wasn’t just a quick 6 and out affair. Rakep kept going and going, crossing the magic 100 run mark in 103. When the Canadians finally it him out for 130, the momentum had totally shifted in Kenya’s favour, setting up the third player I’ll look at’s intervention as Kenya rode the psychological blow struck by that innings to victory.

The player in question is Nehemiah Odhiambo. Making his debut in the national team in the first days of the new Cricket Kenya administration, he has slowly evolved into the leader of Kenya’s pace bowling battery, inheriting the job from such legends as Thomas Odoyo and Peter Ongondo, during a difficult time resultswise for Kenya. Given the time that was remaining in the game, even in light of Rakep’s earlier intervention, the smart money was Canada to escape with a draw, and Kenya to rue another poor result. Not on Nemi’s watch though. Leading from the front, he skewered the Canadian batting to come away with a career best 5 wickets for 45 runs bowling performance. From there Kenya’s victory was assured and though a finals appearance in the Intercontinental Cup is still 2 wins and several doses of good luck away, with bowling like that Kenya should go into their final games against Afghanistan and Scotland with greater confidence.

#EACL East Africa Cricket League Playoff Reviews


As alluded to in last week’s review, this season’s East Africa Premier League and Cup’s format is a little bit more complicated than last year’s. Where in the inaugural edition, the team’s with the best records beque the group stages simply squared off in the final to determine the winner, and the teams 3rd and 4th played a 3rd place playoff. This season, the teams finishing first (Rwenzori and the Premier league, and Coast in the Cup) would go straight into the finals, where they would await the winner of a series of playoff matches. Because of this, Kanbis, who finished 2nd and 4th in the Premier League and Cup respectively, found themselves playing a double header against The Nile Knights, who themselves finished 5th and 3rd in the Premier League and cup competitions. Are we still confused? I’m not anymore, so your on your own. Anyway, humor aside, Kanbis Tigers were in the Premier League side of things, fighting Nile Knights for a semifinal slot v. the winner of Kongonis v. Coast Pekee. Carried by the aggression of Nahendra Patel (48) and some late hitting from Ramesh Mepani (28*) Kanbis’ 142/8 proved to be just enough to hold off the Knights, who ended up all out for 135. On the bowling front, Rakep Patel and Rajesh Bhudiya combined to take 6 wickets for just 40 runs proving to be the difference in a close fought game. Kanbis will now face Kenya Kongonis for the right to stop Rwenzori taking the Premier league trophy back to Uganda. Kongonis booked their place in the semifinal in a far more comprehensive fashion. Riding on the call of William Rudd’s 56, to 135/4, they were always on top of Coast’s vaunted batting attack. The Mombasa team hobbling to 89/8 in their 20 overs. On the Cup front, the Tigers v. Knights contest was an even closer affair than th Premier League game. Chasing 204, a target has actually proved beyond most teams in the cup this season, the Tigers scraped home just barely. Their last wicket partnership of Oluoch and Rabadia scoring 61 to earn a 1 wicket win. Thus proving true the wisdom of a certain ‘smarter than the average bear’ that, its not over till the last out. The reward for Kanbis’ heroics is a semifinal against Rwenzori Warriors, for the right to take on Coast Pekee in the final. Rwenzori’s superior league record stood them in good stead as weather prevented their playoff against Rift Valley Rhinos from taking off.

East Africa Cricket Leagues Week One Review


The Weekend of August 4th and 5th was the first week of the East Africa Cup and Premier Leagues, as pointed out in my last cricket post, the biggest change in the competition was Kanbis Cricket Club taking over the second franchise slot allotted to Nairobi Province Cricket Association.

This new franchise, The Kanbis Tigers, certainly showed a hell of a lot of tigritude on their opening weekend with two barnstorming wins over Kongonis at the Nairobi Club. Both accomplished batting second, there was plenty of intent through and through both performances, ranging from Rakep Patel’s 94 (off 61 balls) to the fact that team chasing down their One day target at 6 and over against the defending champions, this blogger will certainly be looking at this franchise as serious contenders in both tournaments.

Kongonis, on the other hand, will have a lot of head scratching to do, if this weekend’s performances are to be taken as representative of their squad’s strength. They lost a few key pieces of their championship team to the Tigers and it is probably really galling that it is the crucial interventions of these pieces that they, were over-matched in most departments by their opponents. All in all they will need to step up a gear to get the kind of results they need to make the finals of either the t20 EAPL or 50 over Cup Competition.

Coast Pekee on the other hand look to be getting immediate dividends from their new recruits. Landing an impressive 65 run win over the dangerous Rift Rhinos before the Nakuru side found their bearings and won the 50 over match the following day. Poor to the point of being insipid last season, Coast Pekee’s new found strength was most aptly demonstrated by Morris Ouma’s 100 (off 63 balls). More such performances from him and some of the veterans they brought in should make them a real force to reckon with this year.

Whereas Coast look like they will be operating on individual brilliance, the Rhinos on the other hand won their one match on the back of team effort. though no one particular performance would merit the status of cricketing milestone, the sum of Peter Kituku’s 45, Peter Ongondo’s 27, and Hiren Varaiya’s 3/33 was more than anything Coast Pekee could muster.

In the battle of the Ugandan franchises, Rwenzori Warriors came out tops in both formats of the game to remind everyone that as was the case last season, they remain the stronger of the two Uganda franchises

Nest week sees Kongonis travel to Mombasa to face Pekee, Kanbis host the Nile Knights (whether it is at the Gymkhana or Eastleigh High School I don’t know yet), whilst The Rift Valley Rhinos will be in Uganda to take on Rwenzori. In the T20 I tip Pekee, Kanbis and Rwenzori to win, while in the 50 over cup my tips are Kongonis, Kanbis and Rift valley Rhinos.