Kenya November 16, 2006

Associates heading in opposite directions

Martin Williamson reviews the Kenya-Bermuda one-day series and looks at what the games mean for both sides

Martin Williamson reviews the Kenya-Bermuda one-day series and looks at what the games mean for both sides

Although the three-match one-day series between Kenya and Bermuda hardly registered on world cricket's Richter scale, in the battle for supremacy among the game's second string it had greater significance. And with the World Cup less than four months away, it provided a much-needed fillip to the Kenyans but left Bermuda with many more questions than answers.

The 3-0 scoreline does not flatter Kenya who outbatted and outbowled Bermuda, and who certainly looked the far more professional and fitter side in the field

They came into the series under pressure to perform after some indifferent results. They also needed to start nailing down exactly who would be in their World Cup squad. By the time they wrapped up the series whitewash yesterday evening, the selectors should have had far more of an idea of who will be travelling to the Caribbean in March.

The form of the impressive young batsman Tanmay Mishra and the slow left-armer Hiren Varaiya were real highlights. There remain questions at the top of the order, but Malhar Patel did enough in his one outing to give him a real chance of securing the No. 3 slot with some solid performances in January's World Cricket League in Nairobi.

There is also a sneaking feeling that Kennedy Otieno, the veteran wicketkeeper-batsman who chose to play club cricket in Australia rather than this, may have overplayed his hand. He wasn't missed as much as perhaps he thought he might have been and he is now far from certain to be recalled.

It also seems that those who have chosen to live overseas - such as Hitesh Modi - or play hard to get - such as Ravi Shah - are also out of the reckoning. While both will be missed, the selectors are running out of time to experiment and pander to personal whims and they are to be applauded if they stick with what they have from here on in.

And what about Bermuda? Well, while Kenya scrape by on scraps, they have a massive $11 million investment to underpin their development. However, as lottery winners often discover, money does not buy happiness. The last few months have been dogged by rifts between players and the board, as well as discipline issues, and on the evidence of this series, not only have they not progressed, they might have even taken a step backwards.

The greatest worry for Gus Logie, their coach, is the lack of fitness. Bermuda are not the youngest side, but not are they are approaching the kind of geriatric feel that blighted the USA's participation in the 2004 Champions Trophy either. But several of their side are carrying excess baggage and, in the unforgiving world of one-day cricket, that matters. They also lacked the mental steel which is needed at the highest level.

Time for both sides is running out. But while the Kenyans appear to be getting their house in some kind of order just in time, Bermuda are struggling. They now travel to South Africa where they will face the Netherlands, one of the stronger Associates, and Canada, possibly the weakest side taking part in the World Cup. Unless they show a marked improvement on their Mombasa performances, more gloom awaits them.

Martin Williamson is executive editor of ESPNcricinfo and managing editor of ESPN Digital Media in Europe, the Middle East and Africa