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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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.

Scraping the Barrel? Cricket Kenya brings back the old guard.


It seems Kenya’s recent debacle against Afghanistan has got alarm bells ringing up in the higher echelons of Cricket Kenya. 42 year old Steve Tikolo and national assistant coach Thomas Odoyo have been brought out of retirement to try get Kenya into the World T20 World Cup scheduled for early next year. Kenya has only ever qualified for one such world cup and the less we dwell on it went for the national team at that tournament the better.

The issue at hand is that with the decision to pick these old hands ahead of such young prospects as Lucas Oluoch, Dominic Wesonga, even slightly younger veterans like Rajesh Bhudiya (subject to work obligations) and Tanmay Mishra, (subject to the resolution of the unexplained ‘disciplinary issues’) Cricket Kenya is pretty much admitting without saying it that Kenya’s cricketing programs just don’t make players good enough for international matches anymore. It is no secret that outside of Nairobi, cricket has shallower roots than the proverbial sugarcane, but surely has it gotten this bad? This blog has long advocated for a concerted effort to organise an expansion program across Kenya’s 47 counties, through schools and feeder clubs just so we wouldn’t end up in this situation. At present outside of the maverick efforts of various cricket academies, there isn’t much to be said about concrete steps to get the nation of Kenya playing cricket.

Anyway, that is a story for another day. The squad selected for the World Cup qualifying tournament , left for a series of warm up matches in Sri Lanka before heading out the qualifier tournament that will run from the middle to the end November. The best six teams at the November qualifier will go into a preliminary round of the World Cup, where they will fight it out with ICC half members Zimbabwe and Bangladesh for the final two spots at the World Cup proper. As much as I want the selection of there two legends of Kenyan cricket to work out for the best and Kenya rediscover the magic of years gone by, surely they ought to have passed the mantle to a new generation, no?

#EACL: Kongonis youth faces Rwenzori’s guile


This is the preview of tomorrow’s East Africa Premier League final between Kenya Kongonis and Rwenzori. Kongonis come into the match in the exact same circumstances as last reason they dominated the group stages of both Premier League and Cup competitions only to lose both to Nile Knights and Kongonis respectively. Kongonis on the other hand, without some of ties key cup winning stars from last season, rode into the final on the strength of their youngsters and will once again be trusting this youth movement will give them the firepower to overcome their Ugandan opponents.

Momentum is everything in t20 cricket and in Alex Obanda, Kongonis have gotten it in spades. Over the course of the season he’s racked up an impressive 328 runs from 7 innings including an amazing 91 in the semifinals against Coast Pekee. He and Shem Ngoche (with a tournament strike rate of 176.9) have provided the bulk of Kongonis’ fire power with the bat. Both are products of the youth program that Kenya Kongonis have. Speaking of youth if there are any players that capture the spirit of Kongonis’ youth movement in this year’s East Africa Premier League it is the brothers Rudd (Henry and William). Their crucial interventions with bat and ball epitomizes the value of a strong youth program. William’s 56 in the playoffs and Henry’s 4/15 in the semifinals were a key part of Kongonis’ journey into the final and if they as well as one or two other components of the team show character in tomorrow’s final then, they should be able to overcome Rwenzori.

Whilst Kongonis have been running on the fountain of youth, the Rwenzori Warriors have leaned on experience for their success this season. Veterans Steve Tikolo, Roger Mukasa have been the backbone of the Warriors unbeaten run in the group stages (a run which saw them book a slot in the finals). They will be seeking revenge against Kongonis who beat them in last year’s Cup final. In this season’s group stage meeting, The Warriors were able to stave off Kongonis, who were led by a 52 from Alex Obanda and hang on for a 14 run win. They will likely need all the experience they have in the senior players to repeat the trick and end their run of lost finals tomorrow.

#EACL: East Africa Cricket Leagues Semifinals Review


This past weekend saw the semi finals of the East Africa Premier League and Cup competitions. In both matches, Kanbis were trying to turn their debut season (versus Kongonis and Rwenzori and the League and Cup respectively) into a finals appearance. In both bases it was the better batting side that carried the day and, unfortunately for Kanbis, they were not the better batting side in either game. For Kongonis, in the Premier League it was Alex Obanda who proved once again set a platform for his side as the barreled their way to a season’s record total of 203/3 of their alloted 20. His able partner at the crease was team captain Shem Obado Ngoche. Normally known for his slow left arm spin bowling, he came out and showed another side of his game smashing his 47 runs in a measly 16 balls. An innings the likes of Shahid Afridi, or Yuvraj Singh would have been proud of. Faced with such a daunting target thing were always going to be tough for Kanbis. They were duly put out of the game by a combination of Collins Obuya’s leg spin (3/29) and the medium pace of Henry Rudd (4/15 off is 4 overs). They Now face Rwenzori in the final next Saturday. In the cup it was the return of Steve Tikolo to his old stomping ground of the Nairobi Gymkhana that ultimately carried Rwenzori past Kanbis and into a final against Coast Pekee. Having grabbed 4 wickets with his off spin, he and Ugandan veteran Roger Mukasa (100 off 84 balls) batted Rwenzori to victory. Though in all honesty a brittle top order didn’t help the Kanbis cause either. Reduced to 105/6, Kanbis were staring into the abyss when, Ramesh Mepani, combined with Vinod Rabadia for a 103 run partnership, that eventually saw Kanbis wind up 248 all out. Steve Tikolo intervening with quick wickets at the death tin prevent the two Kanbis batsmen from doing further damage. Over the course of this Cup season, 248 would have been too much for most teams, the highest successful run chase of the competition so far being, Kanbis chasing down 205 in the playoffs. Rwenzori’s Mukasa and Tikolo were of a different mind though. Coming togethe with the score at 31/2 they blew away the Kanbis bowling attack and by the time Tikolo was dismissed for 62 off 67 balls the damage had been done and even a late flurry of wickets could not prevent the momentum that the two batsmen had built from carrying them over the line with 28 balls to spare.

East Africa #Cricket Leagues: Week 4 Review.


When it rains it pours. Such was the weekend for Kenya’s franchises generally and Kanbis Tigers in particular, this weekend. Both teams facing Ugandan opposition lost both their matches, whilst the all Kenyan face off between the Tigers and Pekee, succumb to their first 0-2 weekend of their short history in the tournament. The weekend started reasonably well enough for the Tigers. An aggressive 41 of 25 from Ashwin Rabadia gave them a reasonably defendable 138 in the T20 match. At least that was until Irfan Karim, very much the find of the season, hit 50, in Coast Pekee’s chase to guide his team to a 8 wicket win. It was the 50 over East Africa Cup however, where the Tigers really lost their way however. 7 wickets from Nehemiah Odhiambo and their innings folded for a measly 64, which Coast proceeded to chase down in under 15 overs. Over in Nakuru the Rift Valley Rhinos were not having it much better. Struggling to 93/7 in their Premier League Match against Nile Knights, their valiant bowling (Hiren Varaiya posting figures of 4-2-5-1) ultimately not enough to prevent the Knights winning by 5 wickets. The cup game saw Rift’s batting struggles continue as they found themselves 129 all out. The Nile Knights losing 6 wickets chasin down that total, perhaps indicative of how much more the batsmen could have helped the Rhino cause. At the Nairobi Club, Steve Tikolo was once again on hand to show that He’s still got it. His 58 (part of the Rwenzori Warriors total of 160) earning them a 14 run victory over Kongonis, who had Alex Obanda’s 52 to thank for keeping them a chance to win the T20 game. The East Africa Cup match, was more one sided as the Warriors swept to a 66 run (Duckworth-Lewis) win. Next week is th final round of group games and it sees Coast Pekee hosting the Nile Knights needing to win to be sure of getting into the semifinals of the either competition. They sit third in the Premier league 4 on 8 points (4 shy of Kanbis), and tied at the top with the Warriors in the Cup. The Tigers face the daunting mission of taking on Rwenzori in Kampala, needing to beat the hosts to be absolutely sure of both of their semifinals spots. They are 2nd in the Premier league and 3rd in the Cup. After winning the Cup last year it looks like the jig is up for Kongonis. Too far adrift to defend the Cup. (they stand tied for 5th with the Knights). They are also 6 points off the last semifinal slot in the Premier League. Again tied with the Knights. Together with the Rhinos, whom they host, these three teams have nothing to lose.

East Africa #Cricket Leagues: Week 3 Review


This round of the East Africa Premier League and Cup well and truly belonged to the bowlers. Across the 6 matches, played on Saturday and Sunday, there was just the two 50 plus pampe and batting partnerships were a premium wherever teams could get them going not to mention at least 5 bowlers managed 5 wickets or more. The two aforementioned half centuries came from Coast Pekee’s 64 run win over the Rwenzori Warriors. Morris Ouma (62) and Irfan Karim (83) anchored their team to 206/9. This proved far too much for the Warriors in the face of Raj Savala’s 5 wickets for 11 runs. This game result being revenge for the Premier League result the day before. Then, having joined the franchise as a batting coach, Steve Tikolo shone with the ball taking out 6 wickets for just 12 as Coast Pekee were all out for 89, eventually succumbing to a 12 run loss under the Duckworth-Lewis system. Up in Nakuru, scores were lower with the Kanbis Tigers making very hard work of chasing down Rift Valley Rhinos’ 71/9, scraping across the line with to win by just 2 wickets, in the Premier League. They made even heavier weather of their Cup game, this time needing all 11 of their batsmen to chase 154 in under 50 overs. However, even figures of 5 wickets for 26 runs from Kenya international, James Ngoche, could not stop the Tigers from completing another 2/2 weekend. This brings me to the absolute best bowling effort of the weekend. Ordinarily when your team has all of 50 overs to chase down 102 to win a game, victory is more a matter of when, rather than if. Certainly That’s what the Nile Knights thought. They hadn’t counted on Kongonis’ Elijah Otieno, not reading the script. He pretty much single handedly ran through the Knights lineup amassing 7 of the 10 wickets to fall for personal figures of 7/13 as Kongonis pulled out an amazing 35 runs win in trying circumstances. Next week Kongonis host Rwenzori Warriors, Rift Valley Rhinos welcome Nile Knights, and Coast Pekee visit the in form Tigers.