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?