Kenya Stumble Down Under, Lose ground in Cricket World Cup Race


Say it with me slowly Rush-a-bhvar-dhan Nipun Patel. Quite the mouthful eh? The young left-hander (Rushab Patel for short) was also a handful for the Papua New Guinea bowlers, as he struck 95 runs in his International debut 50 overs debut. A knock that long term fans might say had shades of Hitesh Modi in his pomp.

Irfan Karim appeals during the PNG innings (Source: espncricinfo)

Unfortunately for Kenya his efforts came in a losing cause as Kenya slumped to a 2-0 loss to Papua New Guinea, in Port Moresby. Even more unfortunate was the way Kenya lost its last 5 wickets for 13 runs in a match that Kenya had put themselves in a relatively good position to win.

The final result, a 21 run win for Papua New Guinea, to go with a six wicket win in the first match, in which Irfan Karim’s 73 was a lone bright sport in Kenya’s brittle batting.

Even during the warm up matches against Northern Territory of Australia, Kenya’s batsmen struggled to put together multiple meaningful partnerships, and that came back to haunt them in the WCLC matches.

Kenya now sit in 5th place, 4 points adrift of Holland in the World Cricket League Championship Table, with the league approaching its half way stage.

Kenya next play Hong Kong (with the venue yet to be decided) in November of this year. Though nominally home games for Kenya, the security issues Kenya faces mean that they may have to play their games in a neutral venue.

Given that Hong Kong sit in second place, and therefore hold the second of two qualifying slots for the qualifying tournament of the 2019 World Cup in England, winning these matches will go a long way to keeping Kenya’s world cup qualifying hopes alive.

Going Down under: A Preview of Kenya’s WCLC matches against Papua New Guinea


After several months of inactivity, Kenya’s mens national cricket team is back in World Cricket League Division one action, with a pair of matches against Papua Ne Guinea at the end of May.

Since their last action (a 2-0 whitewash of Namibia on their own patch) a number of teams have overtaken them in the WCL standings, so Kenya go into the series in 4th place needing to win both games to get back to the top of the standings, and in pole position to qualify for the qualifying tournament of the 10 team 2019 World Cup in England

The Playing Squad (According to FB sources)

Rakep Patel (C)
Shem Obado Ngoche (VC)
Irfan Karim
Dhiren Ghondaria
Collins Obuya
Nelson Mandela Odhiambo
Nehemiah Odhiambo Ngoche
Sunny Ghatora
Rushab Patel
Karan Kaul
Elijah Otieno
Lucas Oluoch
Emmanuael Bundi
Maurice Ouma

The team will be coached by Thomas Odoyo, and his long time new ball partner Peter Ongondo

Alex Obanda misses out on selection (Source:The Star )

The squad features the return of Maurice Ouma, Lucas Oluoch and the potential debut for Sunny Ghatora, whose performances in club cricket seems to have gotten him a call up. On the flip side, Alex Obanda, and Narendra Kalyan have been ommitted while Hiren Varaiya, who stood in as captain in the Namibia tour is also left out.

With Rakep Patel and his Deputy captain Shem Ngoche returning to the helm of the team, as well as Cricket Kenya successfully resolving player contracts in an orderly fashion, it looks like Kenya will be going into this round of matches as focused on the actual cricket as they have been in a long time.

Papua New Guinea on the other hand are fresh from playing Ireland in a twenty20 as well as Intercontinental Cup matches. The Irish dominated the $ day match but papua Nrew Guinea were able to grab a consolation victory in a 2-1 loss in the t20s. They sit in  6th place, 2 points behind Kenya in the WCLC table.

 

Like lambs to the Slaughter? Cricket Kenya clears the Coaching decks


A silent purge has been been undertaken in Cricket Kenya as general manager, Josephat Muriithi starts to flex his muscles in the Corridors of power at Cricket Kenya.

First to be relieved were head coach of the men’s national team Steve Tikolo, and his deputy Martin Suji. then in the past few days it has been confirmed that Long time fitness coach and ladies team coach, David Asiji had been handed his p45.

Outgoing Men’s team coach Steve Tikolo (Source: The Star Newspaper)

In the case of Kenya legends  Tikolo and Suji, one could speculate that their departure is connected with the findings of the Rombo Committee, that was meant to get to the bottom of the players strike against these coaches in the lead up to Kenya’s WCL tour of Namibia in late 2015.

At the time , pretty much the entire senior men’s team refused to work with the two veterans of Kenya’s heroics from the 1990s and 2000s, and it seems that Cricket Kenya agrees with the players.

The dismissal of Asiji is a little more cloudy, what with his involvement in other aspects of national team coaching also being a factor.

With  Women’s World Cup qualifying, and World Cricket League matches against Papua New Guinea on the horizon for the women’s and men’s national team, it puts a biot of a squeeze on Cricket kenya to get new full time coaches in pace (if the process is not already underway).

Anyway, hopefully painful as it might be for some of people involved, this blogger hopes it is the beginning of a more active national management. Kenyan  Cricket needs it.

 

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

A Preview of Kenya’s Cricketing Summer tour of UK & Ireland


Kenya’s mens national team is in the UK to play the UAE, in the first leg of the World Cricket League, and then the qualifiers for the preliminary leg of the T20 World Cup, being co-hosted by Ireland and Scotland.

First the World Cricket League. Because of the funky world of International Cricket Council management and its arbitrary decision making, Kenya are back in Division 1 of the World Cricket League, not on merit, but as a side effect of a gerrymandering of the ODI world rankings to include Ireland and Afghanistan.

This was done to soothe the pain of their sevision to cut 4 teams from the next edition of the ODI world cup.

Kenya open with 2 games against UAE, an opponent they drew with 1-1, the last time they met.

The T20 world cup qualifiers on the other hand represent the final hurdle for associates from all over the globe to get on the high table of this fotmat of the game. There will be 6 slots, which will be earned through an excessively contrived series of playoffs I will not dwell on here.

Anyway, having safely dispatched Uganda in a warm up series, Kenya will hope the momentum gathered will help them get past opponents, who have proven a tough nut to crack in recent times.

During the regional T20 qualifiers,and division 2 of the WCL,when facing higher opponents particularly of the calibre, of the Netherland, or Namibia, Kenya struggled to impose their will on proceedings, as they did against the likes of Uganda.

The WC, and T20 matches represent another step up in quality. Thus the ability of Kenya to grind out results against teams, that are significantly more seasoned, will be tested severally.

Kenya have added a little youth, to a largely unchanged squad from the ICC sssignments earlier in the year. 

The bedrock of the batting will likely be Collins Obuya, Rakep Patel, Morris Ouma and Irfan Karim, with Narendra Patel, and the young guns Karan Kaul, and Gurdeep Singh looking to deliver break out performances, wherever they get the chance.

On the bowling front, This blogger expects Elijah Otieno and the Ngoche brothers: Nehemiah, Shem, and James, should carry the bulk of the workload, with Bundi, and Ndandason, providing variety with their different styles of seam bowling.

In addition to that, both Patels can chip in with the occasional spell of finger spin, while Nelson Odhiambo has shown some glimpses of making the kind of all round contributions that made Thomas Odoyo (his uncle) and Maurice Odumbe household names in their pomp.

Anyway, having drifted downwards over the past few years, this tour represents an opportunity to set the rehabilitation of the cricket team into a higher gear. Surely grabbing any one of the 6 slots in the t20 preliminary round, and perhaps winning the one or both games against UAE is not too much to ask?

KENYA squad for T20 qualifiers: Rakep Patel (captain), Emmanuel Bundi (Ringeera),  Narendra Kalyan (Patel), Irfan Karim (wk), Karan Kaul, Lucas Ndandason (Oluoch), James Ngoche, Shem Ngoche, Collins Obuya, Eugene Ochieng, Nehemiah Odhiambo, Nelson Odhiambo, Elijah Otieno, Morris Ouma (wk), Gurdeep Singh

World Cricket League Division II: Where Kenya Stand


The grind of the International Cricket Council’s elaborate and extensive World Cricket League tournament system was back in action over the past week. Kenya was in Namibia, for Division II of the ODI side of the World Cricket League.

Up for grabs were two slots in Division I of the World Cricket League, two slots in the next round of the Intercontinental Cup (which will be a qualifier for a shot at test cricket) and generally getting a little bit closer to qualification in the 2019 ODI World Cup. For the worst two, relegation down to Division III, and generally making the path to World Cup qualification that much more complicated.

There were 6 teams who played each other over that week. Namibia, who were hosting the tournament, and Netherlands promoted, Uganda and Canada were relegated, while Nepal and Kenya will wait for the next round of World Cricket League Division II matches.

On the one hand Kenya finished the tournament as the 3rd best team overall by beating Nepal in the 3rd v. 4th place playoff. On the other hand, Kenya only narrowly escaped relegation by a net run rate differential of approximately 0.2, again as a result of beating Nepal on the last day of round robin matches.

It’s hard to say whether one should be happy that Kenya were resilient enough to dodge the bullet of relegation and even grab 3rd place overall, or sad that they were never really good enough to bounce straight back into Division I of the WCL, having only just been relegated into Division II.

Kenya looked very good dispatching Uganda and Nepal twice. Their bowling unit (led by Nelson Odhiambo’s 15 wickets at 17 apiece) was able to pretty much out smart and outplay their opposing batsmen, while the Kenya batsmen were savvy enough to collectively chase down totals, or score enough runs to win.

Nelson Odhiambo is quietly making himself a pillar for team Kenya (Source: espncricinfo)

On the flip side, in their losses against Canada, Namibia and the Netherlands, the batting either proved too brittle to withstand the pressure from the opponents bowling, or the bowling unit was unable to react appropriately to the aggression of the opposing batsmen.

Case in point being the Netherlands game, where only some late hitting from Nehemiah Odhiambo got Kenya to a total of 212/9, which the Dutch promptly chased down in 31 overs.

Kenya now moves their attention to the process of qualifying for the T20 World Cup. This will involve first making it out of the Africa Qualifier tournament and qualifying for a global qualifier tournament, whose qualifiers will go to a preliminary round before they qualify for the World Cup proper.

Previewing the World Cricket League


This year in world Cricket the finest exponents of the ODI format will be in Australia and New Zealand, to contest the ICC 50 Overs World Cup. The 10 full members of the ICC will be joined by 4 associates, of which for the first time in 19 years Kenya will not be among them.

Kenya must instead focus on the long journey of qualifying for the 2019 World Cup (assuming that the rug isn’t pulled out from under associates), and that journey begins in Namibia on the 17th of January 2015.

The 2nd Division of the World Cricket League kicks off with: Kenya, Namibia (hosts), Uganda, Netherlands, Nepal, and Canada. These teams will be contesting two promotion slots to Division 1 of the WCL, and a slot in the final round of World Cup Qualifying, (assuming no dramatic changes) for the 2019 World Cup.

The final two slots in the next round of intercontinental Cup First Class league, and a shot at qualifying for a test match in 2019, will also be at stake at this tournament.

Three of Kenya’s 5 opponents in this tournament have previous World Cup experience, and Uganda, our local rivals; have proven a stubborn opponent in recent times. Nepal is also on the up and should be taken very seriously. In terms of history, this is probably the toughest WCL Division 2 tournament that has come together in the history of the World Cricket League.

Irfan Karim’s form will be key to Kenya’s chances (Source:ulizalinks.co.ke)

This tournament will not be won on past reputation but on which teams bring their A game to the actual games. A less than full strength team, team exposed by Pakistan A, in the team’s last outing. With the Kanbis duo of Rakep and Narendra Patel, Collins Obuya, and Irfan Karim back in the fold, there will be lots more fire power in the batting than the team which went to visit Pakistan.

Most of the team will also have been part of the group which visited Namibia late last year, and will be very familiar with the conditions, as well as most of the opponents they will be facing.

*Kenya squad for ICC World Cricket League Division 2:
Rakep Patel (c), Elijah Otieno, Alex Obanda, Jadavji Bhimji, **Dhiren Gondaria, Irfan Karim(wk), Lucas Oluoch, James Ngoche, Nehemiah Odhiambo, Shem Obado Ngoche, Collins Obuya, Nelson Odhiambo, Narendra Patel, Gurdeep Singh.

Notes:
* There is quite a bit of contradictory information regarding Kenya’s squad to the WCL Div II on multiple credible cricket websites
*Injured on club duty and replaced by James Kamande (Daily nation report)