Kenya, World Cup semifinalists in 2003, believe they are ready to return to the world stage after their success in the International Cricket Council (ICC) World Cricket League (WCL) tournament they hosted in January and February.
Cricket standards in the country had fallen to the lowest level following three years of internal strife, forcing players to strike against the former cricket administration over dubious contracts and bonuses.
The fallout resulted in Kenya being stripped of its official one-day status that granted the country automatic qualification to the World Cup.
However, recent victory in the WCL tournament featuring second-tier teams could provide the springboard to bounce back.
Kenya’s coach Roger Harper, a member of the all-conquering West Indies team in the 70s and 80s, summarised his team’s achievements in claiming the associate membersí title.
“Kenya is supposed to be the top associate country as far as cricket is concerned. But it doesn’t mean anything unless you show it on the field and we have demonstrated that,” said Harper after his team’s convincing eight-wicket win over fellow World Cup qualifiers Scotland. “I think it means a lot for the team, for Kenya as a whole,” he expressed.
This is a relatively younger team compared to the one that reached the World Cup semifinals in 2003 with only two of the players being over 30 years of age.
The Kenyan team will be without three great performers who formed the backbone of the side since the country qualified for their first World Cup in India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka in 1996.
They include former captain Maurice Odumbe and opener/wicket-keeper Kennedy Otieno. Medium fast bowler Martin Suji is also not in the team after failing to recover from a knee operation.
Their places have been taken by a group of promising young players.
Twenty-year-old Tanmay Mishra is not only proving to be a resourceful batsman but also one of the team’s best fielders.
Two other youngsters, 22-year-old Hiren Varaiya, a slow left-arm bowler, and paceman Nehemiah Odhaimbo have proved themselves capable to taking wickets.
Tikolo, once known as the best batsman outside Test cricket has seen his batting form take a dip. But luckily for him his off-spin might come in very handy in the West Indies where the conditions are expected to favour spinners.
Participation in the World Cup has an added incentive for Kenya and the other five associate members as they will earn a special grant of 500,000 dollars.
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Post InfoThis entry was posted on Wednesday, February 21st, 2007 and is filed under General.
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