Time for Kenya to end the Odumbe circus
Maurice Odumbe just won’t go away. Despite not having played any cricket of note since he returned from his five-year ban for associating with bookmakers, Odumbe, 41, still uses a friendly local media to argue he should be restored to the national side.
Odumbe’s last international match was seven-and-a-half years ago, around the time investigations by the ICC started. Between 2004 and 2009 he did not play at all.
Now he has ambitions to make it back to the Kenya squad for the World Cup. “I am quickly getting back to form and believe I can perform better,” he said this week. “I still have what it takes to make the Kenyan team.”
Even if he was able to show he still had what it takes, the Kenyan selectors would have to take leave of their senses to even consider taking him.
At a time the ugly spectre of players being paid by bookmakers and gamblers has resurfaced, what would it say to the world if Kenya picked someone who Justice Ahmed Ebrahim, the man who headed the ICC enquiry in 2004, described as “dishonest and devious in his behaviour in relation to the game of cricket” as well as “callous and greedy”.
Odumbe has shown no remorse, and earlier this month dismissed the ICC decision as a “kangaroo trial”. If picked, he would be mixing with young and impressionable players. What message would it give to them and others if someone so tainted was again allowed to strut around on the game’s biggest stage?
The best thing Cricket Kenya and the national selectors could do is state now Odumbe will not play for his country again and put the whole matter to bed for once and for all. Until they do, the coming months will see Odumbe continue to get as much press attention inside the country as the game itself.
Martin Williamson is executive editor of ESPNcricinfo and managing editor of ESPN Digital Media in Europe, the Middle East and Africa