Kenya July 20, 2009

Odumbe's return would be a massive backward step

Maurice Odumbe ’s campaign to rekindle his cricket career when his five-year ban for associating with a known bookmaker ends next month continues with yet another interview in the Nation

Maurice Odumbe’s campaign to rekindle his cricket career when his five-year ban for associating with a known bookmaker ends next month continues with yet another interview in the Nation. Yet again the same old tired comments are trotted out, about how great Kenyan cricket was when he played, how it’s gone to the dogs since, and how he is the man to reignite it.

While he believes he still has a role to play, the fact is that he is 40 and hasn’t picked up a bat in anger in any serious event for almost six years. The chances of anyone of that age coming back successfully in any sport are remote – and before the example of Tom Watson at The Open are cited, he has been playing almost non-stop since his fifth Open title in 1983.

Kenya cricket has paid for keeping faith in the old guard and not moving on. There is a small window for the selectors to take the plunge and give youth a chance ahead of the 2011 World Cup. That could mean tough decisions being taken which might include bidding farewell to icons such as Steve Tikolo.

What is certain is that even contemplating the return of Odumbe would be about as backward a step as it would be possible to take.

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

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