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)

Kenya tour to Namibia: A quick Preview


Kenya’s men’s national cricket team is in Namibia this week for a brief warm up tour.  The tour is the first major cricket action for the boys, as they prepare fro next year’s World Cricket League Division II, a tournament which is the first of many hurdles which the team will have to clear, as they set about recovering their lost ODI status and the prestige that came with it.

Kenya’s Nehemiah Odhiambo, bowls in a previous match against Namibia (Source: The Namibian)

 

The World Cricket League, for those of you not in the know, is a series of tournaments managed by the International Cricket Council, as a means of stratifying the various associates, and affiliate members (the teams which don’t have Test Status) , based on the strength of their national teams.  They also double up as a (very convoluted) World Cup Qualifying system.

Since they were launched in 2007, up until very recently, Kenya was in the top division of the World Cricket League, and will need to finish among the to two of the upcoming Division II tournament, to bounce back at the first time of asking.

Back to the tour in question. Initially, Kenya were supposed to have worked out a deal to visit Pakistan and play their ‘A’ team, but that had to be postponed  due to security concerns.

Be that as it may, now that they are playing Namibia instead, this will be a good opportunity to get a feel of the WCL Div II host’s strengths, and  the conditions ahead of the actual tournament. Absolutely nothing should be taken for granted, given how stiff the competition will be once the main tournament actually happens.

As the team gets ready to play, here is hoping them success and that the feed back they get proves useful to winning the WCL DIV II next year.

More ICC (The cricket One) Shenanigans


It has been a while since International Cricket Council set about overhauling its global structure to better place it (at least according to the people running the changes) to tackle the challenges of keeping the sport of cricket viable, and relevant in the 21st century.

The initial ideas were based around the Woolfe report, which recommended much moreinclusivity, openness and support for the developing teams within the cricketing universe. What actually happened was the document was tossed out and the decision makers decided to head in the opposite direction.

Most of the widely debated changes touched upon the inner circle of full members (voting rights, revenue sharing, obligations to play one another and everybody else). Countries like Kenya, which is an associate member, were largely left in limbo: Waiting for clarification and structure to vague hints at promises that may or may not materialize from the ‘charity’ of the big boys.

The final version of the overhaul was agreed upon earlier last month. It generally is the tightening of overall control and moneysof the ICC to a cabal of 3 nations (India, England and Australia) and will see the ICC is presided over (initially) by a man who was barred from running his nation’s own cricket board by its supreme court.

On a how this is all relevant to Cricket in Kenya level, what it means is that rather than being accorded more support (in keeping with the idea that they might be developed into future powerhouses of the game), associates like Kenya will find it harder than before to become part of the cricket mainstream, and a lot easier to slip into oblivion if they do not work extra hard to keep the little access they do have.

A Summary of the changes that will affect Kenya, from avid cricket writer Andrew Nixon

 

No longer is a place at the showpiece 50 Over World Cup a guarantee (the one Kenya made the semi-finals of in 2003).Making it to the t20 version of the World Cup proper has had an additional level of qualifiers tossed in. The World Cricket Leagues and Intercontinental Cup (through which Kenya’s national teams kept busy) have been trimmed down, as well as the youth and developmental tournaments that used to support spreading the game.

It is true there has been an actual offer to provide a pathway to qualifying for test status, but it remains an unsubstantiated promise with no guarantee (at least from the way the ICC has backtracked on other things) of ever becoming reality.
Anyway, I have blown a fuse previously on the absurdity of the so called reforms with regards to how they hurt rather than help the game in countries like Kenya.

Lots of other bloggers have done the same, but for now it seem that even if the local administrators were to get their house in order and get the game in Kenya growing again, it may be for nought.

In short, If cricket stakeholders in Kenya didn’t know this befor they should now understand that ther is simply no future to being a small fish within the International Cricket Council.

Looking Back at Kenya’s Nightmare in Sharjah


At the end of the day I do not think Kenya could have asked for a more depressing tour results-wise than what just elapsed against Afghanistan. It is one thing that Kenya lost all but the final game to a resurgent Afghanistan side, but it’s quite another when none of the losses was even close. Even when facing essentially an under 25 team in the 4 day intercontinental Cup, Kenya got bowled out for scores of 162, and 140 respectively, to succumb to an 8 wicket loss with a full day and a half of play to spare.
The immediate outcome of losing those World Cup Qualifiers is that Kenya now have to go to New Zealand early next to fight for the last two World Cups slots, and probably the right to even hold One Day Internationals in future. It means Kenya continue to wallow at the bottom of the ODI and T20 world rankings, and the trophy drought in the Intercontinental Cup will continue for at least another two tears. Afghanistan’s (admittedly very good) fast bowlers badly exposed Kenya’s batsmen. Nobody in the Kenya team made it to 40 in all of the games played, and as a team, we were out for less than 100 in all limited overs innings batted. Considering that just before the 2011 World Cup, Kenya had played the same opponents and fared considerably better. (Kenya won the ODI series 2-1, and only some bad fielding in the Afghan 1st innings was the difference between the two teams in the Intercontinental Cup) the actual skill gap between the two teams cannot be that big. Therefore one cannot say Kenya could not have at least competed with their opponents. However the results were the results, and at the end of the day the Kenya national team just underwent one of its worst tours results wise that I can remember.
Kenya is not the first; neither will it be the last, cricket national team to suffer a nightmare tour of this nature. It happens to everybody eventually. What matters here is how the players, coaches and administrators react to such a tour. That is where the difference between the good teams, who pick themselves up, directly and honestly address the matters that need addressing and actually become stronger because of the lessons learned from that tour, and the weaker ones for whom such a tour only unleashes yet another round of debilitating blame games, finger pointing accusations and conspiracies.
The silver lining in all of this was Kenya capped two promising young players in Dhiren Ghondaria and 15yr old Gurdeep Singh. My hope is that they saw the level their opponents were at, not as a discouragement, but a challenge that they can rise up and meet wityh sufficient application and hard work.
On a final note this blogger wants to congratulate Afghanistan, and the Afghan Cricket Board on their team’s qualification for their first ever 50 over World Cup.

EDIT: Since the posting of this blog Kenya did win the fianl t20 match in Sharjah, Collins Obuya leading the boys to an encouraging 34 run win.