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On the face of it, the return of Steve Tikolo to Kenya’s side for the 2011 World Cup has to be a rare flicker of good news in a dismal year for cricket in the country. Officially he will have to fight his way back into the team. However, Kenya's recent performances have been so dire that he could walk back in even were he to bat left handed.
However, great player though he undoubtedly was, there were some who were far from unhappy when Tikolo quit. They felt that his powers were on the wane – as can only be expected from a man who will be 40 next June – and his presence in the side led to others taking the mindset that even if they failed, Tikolo would bail them out. Without him, so the argument went, others would have to stand on their own two feet. Recent performances suggest that's something beyond them.
When Tikolo indicated earlier in the year he might return but only on his terms he riled board officials, and then he sprung up as a ringleader of the strike which led to Kenya’s short tour of England being scrapped, benefiting nobody and further denting Kenya’s tarnished international standing. There appeared no way back.
But so desperate are Kenya to avoid humiliation in the World Cup – and any other matches that come their way in the build-up – that the board now appears to be trawling round former players to try to bolster their hapless team. While it is nothing more than short-term clutching at straws, there appear few alternatives.
If Tikolo the cricketer returns to the fold then it can only benefit his team and the younger players. If the character who has been associated with factionalism and unrest comes with him, then the move could well have unwelcome long-term consequences.
The only hope is that the board’s desperation is not so great they consider calling Maurice Odumbe in for a chat.
Martin Williamson is executive editor of ESPNcricinfo and managing editor of ESPN Digital Media in Europe, the Middle East and AfricaFeeds: Martin Williamson
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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Executive editor Martin Williamson joined the Wisden website in its planning stages in 2001 after failing to make his millions in the internet boom when managing editor of Sportal. Before that he was in charge of Sky Sports Online and helped launch and run Sky News Online. With a preference for all things old (except his wife and children), he has recently confounded colleagues by displaying an uncharacteristic fondness for Twenty20 cricket. His enthusiasm for the game is sadly not matched by his ability, but he remains convinced that he might be a late developer and perseveres in the hope of an England call-up with his middle-order batting and non-spinning offbreaks. He is now managing editor of ESPN EMEA Digital Group as well as his Cricinfo responsibilities.