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.
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.
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.
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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.
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.
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.
Following two less than sub-par batting performances, Kenya finally brought down the axe to strengthen the batting. However, it was bowling allrounder, Nehemiah Odhiambo, who found himself tossed into the cold to make space for Seren Waters. aside from that there were bo other changes as Elijah Otieno’s performance with the ball was good enough to keep him in the XI ahead of the veteran Peter Ongondo.
Kenya won the toss again and this time opted to field first. However it seems that the demons that had plagued the batting had moved on to Kenya’s bowling as Namibia’s opening batsmen steamrolled their way to 191 before some sharp work behind the stumps from Maurice Ouma of Lameck Onyango’s bowling saw the end of JB Burger. Burger left having scored an audaciuos 125 runs from 96 deliveries. The next four wickets came in far quicker as the namibian innings began to deflate and the spectre of Kenya chasing a 300+ began to fade. 2 run outs and wickets for hiren Varaiya and Thomas Odoyo reduced Namibia to 243/5 with 7 overs left in their innings. Namibia nevertheless rallied late on to 305 all out, setting Kenya a target of 306 to win
Kenya were immediately off to the races piling on the runs and despite the early loss of Kennedy Otieno, 27 runs off the first three overs, but Kenya’s familiar batting woes would not go away as both Waters and Obanda ere out cheaply to leave Kenya 35/3 and from there it was all down hill as Kenya sunk to 104 all out to hand Namibia a enourmous 201 run victory. Only three batsmen, Maurice Ouma, Collins Obuya and Thomas Odoyo made it into double figures aand in the end the innings was over in 30 overs.
The size of Kenya’s defeat effectively wipes out the advantage of NRR that they had coming into the match leaves them in a perilous tied with two other teams (Netherlands, UAE) on 6 points fighting for that last qualifying place for the World Cup, ahead of their match against Ireland on the 17th.
Kenya came into this match needing a solid performance to bury the ghosts of Saturday’s shocking implosion with the bat against Canada. Even so, none of the batsmen involved in the deabacle was dropped as Kenya opted to keep the faith in their batting line up. In the bowling department. Elijah Otieno came in in plce of Peter Ongondo.
Having won the toss, Kenya chose to tempt fate by batting first and though This time their openers were mare cautious guiding Kenya to 30/0 after 6 overs, thing started to take a worryingly familiar turn when they promptly lost 4 wickets in the space of four overs with only 19 runs scored. Once again it was down to kenya’s middle and lower order to stop the rot. Collins Obuya (32 off 66 balls), Thomas Odoyo (26 of 72 balls) and James Kamande (18 of 29) once again reprising what must now be the annoyingly familiar role of digging Kenya out of yet another hole. Kenya being at 49/4 when the first of them went in to bat and 129/7 when Odoyo was the last of the three to depart. Kenya eventually manages 177 all out with Hiren Varaiya, and Nemi Odhiambo providing late entertainemnt each scoring 20.
Scotland’s innings started on a rather quiet not with Odoyo and Otieno bowling tidily at the start. But given the low target they were chasing Scottish were under no pressure to score quickly. Nonethelss Keny’a bowler’s stuck to their task and soon were rewarded whe Odoyo bowled Gavin Hamilton for 17. and soon after Kenya got a second wicket when Maurice Ouma was sharp enough to effect a stumping off a wide Lameck Onyango delivery. Then Scotland started to unravel. First, their captain Ryan Watson (1) was trapped infront of his crease by a Lameck Onyango delivery, then Colin Smith getting himself run out (9) and then Nehemiah Odhiambo getting an lbw decision to get rid of kyle Coetzer for 16 to leave Scotland at 65/5. Odhiambo struck again to leave the score 82/6. Nontheless Scotland battled on with Jan Stander nagging the tail onwards with Craig Wright offering support carrying the score to 130 before losing his wicket to leave Scotland needing 47 runs off their last three wickets to win the game. Stander was the next to go , with the Scots at 138. The Scots finally took their last powerplay with 5 overs left and just 30 for the win but promptly lost their last two wickets to Lameck Onyango.
Kenya’s batting suffred again but on this occasion the bowling stood up to be counted withe the Ngoche brothers (Lameck and Nehemiah) picking up 6 wickets to see Kenya home and just about hanging on to one of four World Cup places. (They are third on 6 points only ahead of the Dutch on Net run Rate and Scotland in 5th by 2 points). Their final two matches are against namibia (2 points) and group leaders Ireland
Just what is at stake in all this
Kenya’s first match of the Super 8 stage and it was against a canada side that had won 4 out their 5 matches in their group. Kenya’s regular XI were restorted for this match in which a win against one of two other teams on 4 points at the start of the Super 8s would be a big step forward in securing a place in the finals. Even Nehemiah Odhiambo was beack having recovered from whetevr ailment kept him out of the win against Bermuda.
Kenya were sent in to bat and were soon in all sorts of turmoil as within 10 overs 5 batsmen had been dismissed for single figure scores and the entire innings was looking finished before it had even got started at 51 runs for the loss of 5 wickets. Ex-Ugandan Henry Osinde was the man doing the damage for Canada finishing with 4 wickets for 39 runs. Things would get worse before they got better as only 20 runs when Mautice Ouma, the only top order batsman to get his score past 10 suffered his customary head explosion and Kenya wer looking over the abyss with the score reading 71/6.
It was here that the two batsmen at the crease, Jimmy Kamande, and Hiren Varaiya, ostensibly in the XI for their ability to bowl finger-spin, began the firefighting exercise that dragged Kenya’s final total to a barely excusable 181 all out. Kamande was the top scorer hitting a valuable 61 off 86 balls. Other firefighters were Hiren Varaiya who held out for 41 deliveries to get to 13. and nehemiah Odhiambo who hit 3 fours and a six before he was left stranded on an unbeaten score of 34 of 45 deliveries.
Canada ere off to the races chasing down an relitely easy target of of 182 with one Riwaz Cheema, in partcularly explosive form, dealing exclusively in boundaries for his first 38 runs. Canada were running away with the game scoring an astronomical 60 runs off 6 overs mostly off the back of Cheema’s efforts. Kenya finally got the better of him when he lobbed a Nehemiah Odhiambo delivery to Alex Obanda to finish just one runs short of his 50. A second wicket with the Canadians on 83, slowed them further and even with Kamande’s spin picking up a further Kenya’s poor batting earlier proved their downfall.
Following 4 solid batting performances against fairly docile attacks Kenya have certainly been brought back to earth with an enourmous thump. Hopefully it will be a wake up call to the batsmen to raise their collective game ahead of matches against Scotland, Namibia and finally Ireland
EDIT: Fortunately for Kenya, the group leaders Ireland also lost their opening day match against Afghanistan meaning that though they (Kenya) slip out of the two finalist slots, The two teams at the top of the pool remain only two points ahead of Kenya with three matches to play.
With pretty much nothing riding on this game,Kenya made three changes bringing in Rakep Patel, Rajesh bhudia and Seren Waters, in and giving James Kamande, Thomas Odoyo and Lameck Onyango a rest. For the Danes it was a last opportunity to walk away from tournaments with at least one win under their belts, whilst Kenya’s motivation would be the extra NRR they would get for a win.
Having won the toss Steve Tikolo sent in the Danes and they duly began to collapse, with Elijah Otieno picking two early wickets and Obanda occasioning a run out to leaving the Danes at 4 wickets down for only 52 runs scored. Their scoring never really picked up any momentum and they eventually crawled to 173/8 from their 50 overs. Elijah Otieno had the best bowling figures returning 3/51 from his 10 overs, with Peter Ongondo, Steve Tikolo, and hiren varaiya all getting a wicket each.
As expected Kenya started brightly rapidly accumulating 34 before Ouma edged one behind to walk for 24 (perhaps a trend that he has consistently been Kenya’s 1st wicket to fall). That mishap, however harly slowed kenya down as they continued smoothly on to 100 Seren waters and Collins Obuya at the crease. The pair eventually saw Kenya home with waters scoring 61.
Kenya thus finish round one top of Group B and carry with them 4 points from victories over fellow qualifiers (Afghanistan and UAE) into the Super 8 stage. There they will play Ireland (6 points), Canada (4 points), Scotland (2 points), Namibia (0 points) with the top two teams at the end of this stage contesting the final and the third and forth placed teams getting tthe last two World cup slots available to Associates.
With the momentum in the group now frimly refained, Kenya went into this match against a Bermuda team with only one win in the tournament expected to make short work of their opponents and confirm their place in the Super 8 with a match to spare. Elijah Otieno made his tournament debut in place of Nehemian Odhiambo, who pulled out injured bowling against Afghanistan, whilst the rest of the team remained largely unchanged.
Bermuda, having been sent in after losing the toss, set about trying to build a total in the old fashioned way i.e slow and steady, taking 30 overs to get to 100, but they till had 9 wickets in hand (Varaiya doing the damage removing Ian? Crockwell for a 89 ball 45). bermuda then finally decided to attack with a succession of batsmen scoring rapid 30s before getting out. All the while their other opener, David Hemp, a player of over 15 years experience held the fort compiling a 102 from 152 balls that would not have looked out of place in a test match as Bermuda reached 259/5 off their alloted overs.
As it were ODI cricket is not Test cricket and Kenya’s opebers (Maurice Ouma in particular) set about Bermuda’s pace bowlers with all out aggression putting on the first 50 runs off just under 7 overs and forcing the Bermuda captain to bring on his spinners early to stem the tide. The run rate slowed but only slightly as Kenya’s opening partnership eventually putting on 97 before Ouma was out (57 off 60). Obanda fell soon afterwards going after one too many sixes. With the veterans Tikolo and Otieno at the crease however, the Kenya chase was not hampereed as they put on a further 56 runs at 6 runs an over for the 3rd wicket. When Otieno was finally adjudged to be lbw for 63 the game was virtually safe.
kenya’s third win in a row guarantees them qualification for the Super 8 stages and with their final match being against Denmark having little consequence given the Dane’s have lost all their matches so far, it might be the time to give some of the squad members a chance to see how they deal with the conditions. Rakep Patel and Rajesh Bhudia have yet to play a competive match (except as fielding substitutes) whilst Seren Waters could benefit from a second game.
Alex Obanda made his return to the XI with Maurice Ouma further promoted to open the batting alongside, rival for the wicketkeeping duties, Kennedy Otieno. Seren waters was the man making way at the top of the order as the bowling unit remained largely the same. As it was Obanda hradly got to face a delivery as Kenya marched home in style chasing a paltry 80 runs in 12 overs to win by 9 wickets. to do their net runrate a world of good
Batting first, the arabs were no match for the Kenyan pace attack led by Lameck Onyango, who collected career best list A bowling figures of 6 wickets for 14 runs of his ten overs allocation. Only two UAE batsmen got into double figures as their team collapes in a heap 79 all out in 30 overs.
Opening once again Maurice Ouma finished what Lameck had started blasting 50 off 38 deliveries to deliver Kenya to the brink of victory before getting out lbw with only 10 runs to go.
An especially comfortable victory for Kenya means that in the highly unlikely event that the Dutch slip up against the rest of the cannon fodder in the group Kenya may yet emerge top and if Kenya mop up the rest of the oppiosiyion with this kind of proffesionalism they may yet nullyfy the disadvantage of losing their opening match against the Dutch.
Kenya now have a rest day before they take on the tournament’s media darlings Afghanistan, who whilst may not be as strong as the Dutch will certainly be a sterner test that the UAE today.