That being the margin, expressed in Net Run Rate, by which Kenya’s attempt to get into the World T20 World Cup in 2012 fell short. Kenya eventually finished the tournament ranked 9 out of 16 participants and with an overall reccord of 5 wins and 4 losses. Obviously there is more to this failure than one run, or one less ball. That’s what this post is about. First lets look at the batting. Kenya’s batsmen turned out nothing short of a Jekyll and Hyde performance. In the 5 wins the batting looked as solid as any in the tournament. 50s were had by most of the people tasked to deliver them, and in general they did so at the kind of high strike rates that are the heart of T20 cricket. This we shall call the Dr. Jekyll. Doing as expected, conforming to expectations, but ultimately a facade. The Mr. Hyde in this case, and what a gruesome Hyde it was, came out particularly in the defeats to Ireland and Namibia. In these games Kenya were shot out for 77 and 108 respectively. These innings were marked with panic, slow run rates and multiple wickets falling in quick succession. A solid reliable top 6 suddenly had no answers to the questions posed to them by the bowlers. Note that the two teams that managed to draw out this level of panic from Kenya will meet in a playoff to fight for a slot in the T20 World Cup. It seems that the level of cricket the above mentioned two teams are operating marks a threshhold beyond which Kenya’s batsmen simply lose their way. As for the bowling, their failures were far less dramatic than those of their batting counterparts, however they still looked notably out of their depth against the teams who’ve since progressed farther than Kenya in the qualifiers. Can that be helped? Notably both Namibia and Ireland have one thing in common that Kenya doesn’t. A core of players continually exposed to levels of cricket (in South Africa and England) which they have to cope with the pressure of being outskilled on a regular basis. This is something I alluded to in my preview to this tournament. Our boys boys don’t seen to know what to do when their natural gifts don’t give them a significant advantage against their opponents. In my previous post I noted that unlike Kenya’s cricket teams of the past this lot have virtually no exposure to anything better than their buddies at club level. Players whom they are so much better than. This puts Kenya in a Catch 22 situation. In order to get better they must qualify for the big ICC tournaments on a regular basis, but in order to qualify for these big tournaments, they have to find a way past the Irelands and Namibias of this world. In order to do that they have to get better. In the medium term Cricket Kenya’s East Africa Premier League could possibly attract a level of outside talent that will force Kenya’s players to learn how to win even when outgunned. However until then, Cricket Kenya has to find other ways to raise the level of competition Kenya is exposed to or next time the margin won’t be 0.007.

Kenya T20: A Preview to the World Cup Qualifiers

In little over 18 hours from the publication of this post, Kenya will begin the quest for qualifiction to the 2012 T20 Cricket World Cup to be hosted by Sri Lanka, in September by facing Scotland in a round robin match. Kenya is one of 12 associate (2nd tier) teams fighting over 2 slots in a qualifying tournament in U.A.E starting tomorrow. The other teams in Kenya’s group are: Namibia, Uganda, Italy and Oman. The winner of this group wil face the winner of group A (Ireland, Afghanistan, U.A.E, Denmark, Papua New Guinea and Bermuda) in final number one, for one of the two World cup places. The teams that finish 2nd and 3rd in their respective groups will themselves go head to head to determine which one will play the loser of final number one, for the other world cup slot. I have no idea why it has to be this convoluted, but that’s how the ICC seem to like doing things. Kenya haven’t been to the world cup for this format since the inaugural event in 2007, and the less we talk about what happened then, the better. Kenya’s team has been through a massive evolution, nay revolution since then and even now can still be said to be transition. This is transition from a generation, who developed their game when Kenya was stuck in the No Mans land of being sole ODI nation, to a generation of players who have virtually none of the exposure to the big guns of world cricket their predecessors had but are still expected to somehow assert dominance over the rest their associate peers. What are Kenya’s chances of earning one of these two World Cup slots? Its imperative that this team believes in its own ability to deliver the goods. All the players selected have shown in sparks here and again that individually they can wreak havoc (both as batsmen and bowlers) on players and teams even when on paper it shouldn’t be possible. Many fans will remember Collins Obuya’s sparkling 98 against Australia at the 2011 World Cup. Its not for nothing Tanmay Mishra’s become only the second international from outside the test (1st tier) nations to get an IPL Contract. Then there is the Ngoche brothers. They are the spine of Kenya’s bowling just now and have outclassed all the opposition batsmen at least once. Surely the penny’s got to drop soon and these sparks will develop into a big roaring flame. Maybe I’m getting a little carried away. Lets look at Kenya’s opponents. In group B. Italy and Oman haven’t done anything remotely notable in Cricket so, except for massive complacency on Kenya’s part these games should be won fairly easily. The other three teams in the group: Namibia, Uganda and Scotland, on the other hand represent a much tougher prospect and should be approached with utmost seriousness if Kenya are to get victory. Namibia is a team that have blown plenty of match exposure from being a part of South Africa’s domestic competitions and thus have lots of team chemistry. A Kenyan XI squad visited Namibia late last year and played 8 t20 matches losing 6 of them and winning 2. Though one could qualify the outcome by saying that not all of Kenya’s best players travelled and there was a huge amount of chopping and changing of line ups across the matches, its still a good indicator of how strong Namibia can be in this format of cricket. Scotland also have several seasons of playing as a team, this time in England, however Kenya’s head to head record against them in t20s is markedly better than that against Namibia. Nonetheless, they still represent one of the strongest squads in the tournament and Kenya would do well not to spare any slack when dealing with them. Uganda have developed a liking for putting egg on the faces of Kenya of late, they beat us as recently as Sunday. Though not normally a big contender for World cup places and the like, they do like to save their best for Kenya. Should Kenya come through this group, my expectation is the most likely competitors they will face, in whichever final they may have to play, will be Ireland and The Netherlands. Not only do both these teams have better head to head records in the T20 format against Kenya but they both have giant killing form characteristic of teams full of confidence in what they are doing. Which is not to say that they can’t be beaten, only that for it to be done there can be no room for complacency. Having said all that, Kenya’s is, a young squad, arguably not at the height of its powers. Coming through all this and securing a place at the high take of World Cricket in Sri Lanka come September would send a massive statement that Kenyan cricket is truly back.

World Cup Preliminary squad:My thoughts

Cricket Kenya has announced its preliminary 30 man squad for the 2011 50 over World Cup. The bulk of the new faces, come straight out of the u19 squad that is now just one step away from breaking Kenya’s 7 year absence at the u19 World Cup. These Include batsmen: Duncan Allen, Irfan Karim, Vinit Shikotra. Beyond these the only new faces (at least by my standards) are Runish Gudka.
To the best of this blogger’s knowledge is concerned only sub-continent teams (Bangladesh, India and Pakistan) practice this behavior of throwing players this green straight into the deep end. Given that these countries have huge cricket mad populations, this method, with its attendant high failure rate is understandable. For that is how the genius of India’s Sachin Tendulkar and Pakistan’s Wasim Akram were first uncovered. It is also the means that prodigies like Ishant Sharma and (the now disgraced) Mohammed Aamer have been discovered. But I digress. Some of these youngsters indeed have been given some exposure at international level (on various Kenya A team assignments). They managed some success (against Uganda) and one glaring failure against a touring Indian state team (where they found themselves generally unable to deal with the opponents pace).
Assuming that the first scenarios holds true then I hope one or two of these new kids shows skill enough to earn a place in the final fifteen when the final squads are announced before January 9th.
The full squad as listed on the Cricket Kenya website:
Ragheb Aga  
Duncan Allen
Runish Gudka
Irfan Karim 
Karan Kaul
Peter Kituku 
Alfred Luseno
Tanmay Mishra
James Ngoche
Shem Ngoche 
Alex Obanda
David Obuya 
Collins Obuya
Nehemiah Odhiambo 
Nelson Odhiambo
Thomas Odoyo
Lucas Oluoch
Peter Ongondo 
Joseph Onyango
Lameck Onyango
Elijah Otieno
Morris Ouma
Ken Owino
Rakep Patel 
Vinit Shikotra
Steve Tikolo 
Hiren Varaiya
Seren Waters 
Dominic Wesonga

And now, the ladies

The week starting from the 12th of December marks the beginning of the final major event on the Kenyan sporting calendar. The 2011 Women’s World Cup qualifiers start in Nairobi with Kenya’s representatives looking to gate crash the main event for the 1st time in the team’s short history.

To make a long story short, this blogger is convinced that if you had asked around cricket circles 10 years ago about the possibility of raising a women’s national team, you would have got you more than a few awkward stares. These qualifiers will thus be the second time that Kenya has attempted to get a team to the Women’s cricket World Cup. Since then the team has gone from strength to strength, and will hopefully prove a much stiffer challenge to the only truly strong women’s team at these qualifiers, Zimbabwe. The qualifying tournament will run from the 15th of December at the Nairobi Gymkhana (just up the road from Kenya Institute of Education offices) in Nairobi.

This blogger

Final reckonig

Kenya’s under 19 cricket team will, at the end of this month, begin the journey to qualifying for the World Cup. One could argue that this team, carries more than just the hopes of a bunch of young cricketers desperate to appear on theglobal stage, but the hope of a cricket organisation that has struggned to overcome the legacy of non-development of the game in Kenya.

I have blogged variously on this matter so, I will not say alot about it here.

Kenya’s under 19 cricket team, virtually dead in the mid 2000s, has been a mixed bag for Cricket Kenya. They have not been to their World Cup since a side dogged by racism in selection issues suffered world reccord defeats against major test teams in 2003. The resultant hiatus has shown with alot of its graduants to the national team struggling to cope with international cricket due to a lack of exposure.

The under 19 squad travelling to the Africa Qualifiers is very significant for two reasons. Firstly the bulk of the players in this team have learnt their cricket entirely under the auspices of the current Cricket Kenya structure. Players like Emmanuel Bundi and Irfan Karim have played alongside one another all the way from the under 13 level for teams run by Cricket Kenya. Qualifying for the next edition of the u19 World Cup would be welcome vindication for the efforts that Samir Inamdar and his team has done. The second reason is that given the extremely dubious manner which the International Cricket Council stripped Kenya of hosting rightsfor the last U19 World Cup.qualifying would be a good way of getting back at the ICC fof their henious deeds.

In the first leg of the qualifying tournament, Kenya face:Uganda, Namibia, Tanzania, Zambia, Sierra Leone amongst others. From those listed above, the stiffest competition shall come from, regular World Cup camapigners, Namibia and Uganda. In 2007, it was only Namibia that stooped Kenya from making that year’s World Cup, whilst Kenya’s rivalry with Uganda at the age group level goes back many years. Getting past these two should allow Kenya through to the Global World cup qualifying tourney, where 6 of the 10 participating teams will qualify for the 2011 u19 World cup.

The Under 19 World Cup Africa qualifiers start on the 29th of August in Windhoek, Namibia.

Kenya land Aussies in World Cup

That’s right kids! Kenya have been drawn in the same group as 3 time and current defending World champions Australia in the forthcoming 2011 Cricket World Cup to be hosted in the Asian Subcontinent.

The world cup will revert to the group stage formats used in ’99 and 2003 with the participants split into two groups, but unlike previous editions will not likely feature a super 6/8 stage.

Also withe Kenya in Group A are Pakistan (champions in 1992), New Zealand (who are multiple semi finalists) as well as 1996 World Cup champions, Sri Lanka, Canada and Zimbabwe.

The other seven participants in the World Cup: India, Bangladesh, West Indies, Netherlands, Ireland, England and South Africa are in group B.

More from ICC

Wprld Cup qualifiers: Kenya vs. Ireland

Kenya came into this game looking for tyhe win that would guarantee their progression to the 2011 World cup against a team that had already guaranteed their own safe passage in the previuos round. Peter Ongondo and Nehemiah Odhiambo returned to the XI inplace of Seren Waters and Elijah Otieno. A defeat on the other hand would leave Kenya sweating on the other results on the day to preserve even their ODI status.

ist innings

Ireland, fielding quite a few reserve players inpreparationfor the WCQ Final, won the toss and chose to bat fast. they were confronted by a seam attack that was fire. Peter Ongondo and Thomas Odoyo quicky had three batsmen back in the pavilion with only 38 runs on the board. Ireland generally struggled to cope with these two as well as Nehemiah Odiambo and with Tikolo’s four overs of finger-spin adding three wikets to their 4. Ireland hobbled to 204/9 off their 50 overs.

2nd innings

Kenya set off on their pusrduit on amarkedy quiet note, and given the sad batting performances of the past two games, caution would undoubtedly have been the watchword. Given the much smaller target that the Irish had set, they also had less pressure on their shoulders to get the job done withing the match itself. So when Kenya lost their first wicket for 17 and their second for 45 it did not reslult in the disintergration that had marked the previuos games as the Scorecard continued to rumble on at just less than 4 runs an over. When kenya they took the last powerplay they needed to score at close to 8 runs an over to see them selves home with Collins Obuya and Thomas Odoyo at the crease. But the two proved that they had more than enough musle to see Kenya home with 12 deliveries to spare.

Kenya just miss out of aplace in the final of this tournament by the slimmest of margins. They now face The Netherlands in a mostly meaningless 3rd/4th place playoff on the 19th of April
In cricket terms Kenya book their place in the 2011 World Cup, but They also secure an automatic qualification for the Intercontinental Cup and ODI status for the next four years. It means they have the privilege to continue asking full members Bangladesh, Zimbabwe, Australia India et al) fully recognised One Day internationals (whether they respond positively is a whole nother matter). They also become one of 6 nations to participate in the World Cricket League Division 1, (date and venue to be confirmed) . In finacial terms they have earned a 3ook USD grant for being one of the ICC’s HPP nations, and an extra 300k USD to prepare for the next World Cup.