World Cup 2011

Kenyans left staring into World Cup abyss

Martin Williamson

January 19, 2011

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Steve Tikolo celebrates his half-century, Kenya v Scotland, Kenya T20 Tri-Series, 6th match, Nairobi, February 4, 2010
Steve Tikolo, once Kenya's star batsman, looks past his best © Thota Sreenivas
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Kenya's tour of India, designed to prepare the squad for the forthcoming World Cup, has only served to expose the deficiencies in a side who, barring a major turnaround, seem set for a wretched tournament.

All five matches against youthful Gujarat and Baroda sides were lost, echoing results when the Indian state teams played in Nairobi last year. In only one match did Kenya come remotely close to winning, and even then they were unable to defend a total of 293 for 6, losing to Gujarat by six wickets with more than three overs remaining.

The batsmen have coped fairly well with alien conditions. Seren Waters scored the only hundred of the tour, but almost all the other front-line batsmen did enough to suggest they will cope come the World Cup, although doing more than that may be beyond them. However, Alex Obanda and Thomas Odoyo were really out of touch, and more worryingly Steve Tikolo failed to dominate in any game. For so long the lynchpin of the side, there have to be worries that a lack of high-class cricket and age are both taking a toll on his game.

Collins Obuya made one good score, but in four other innings managed only 47 runs. If Tikolo is unable to hold together the innings, much will depend on him, and his form is another big concern.

The real headache for coach Eldine Baptiste is with the bowling. Peter Ongondo, who has been so vital with the new ball, only played twice but leaked runs, while too many others lacked enough control to really put pressure on what were little more than inexperienced, if talented, young state batsmen. While some of the figures may not appear too bad, they have to be read in the knowledge that Baroda and Gujarat's batsmen were rarely under pressure to score quick runs and so did not need to be overly attacking.

After back-to-back wins, Gurajat completed a 3-0 clean sweep in the final match between the sides. Kenya's batsmen finally posted a good score, a second-wicket stand of 178 between Waters (103) and Obuya (92) helping them to 293 for 6, but Gujarat's well-paced reply enabled them to ease home with 19 balls to spare.

Kenya then headed to Vadodara for two matches against Baroda. Both followed a similar pattern. In the first, Kenya were put in, most of their batsmen got starts without building a big innings, and their eventual score of 217 was not remotely enough as Baroda ambled to a five-wicket win with 20 balls in hand. In the second, Kenya again batted and scored 182, with Tanmay Mishra's 63 saving them from a much lower score. Early wickets gave the Kenyans brief hope but Baroda knuckled down and again meandered to a well-paced six-wicket win.

Kenya now head to Dubai for conditioning, while Baptiste will be left scratching his head and trying to work out how to avoid the World Cup becoming a nightmare for his side.

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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Posted by   on (January 20, 2011, 9:41 GMT)

I think the lack of high class cricket affects the entire associate world save maybe Ireland and Scotland who's relative employment advantage as EU members states gets them easier access to County Cricket. Its not just a head ache for Kenya but for any team purporting to close the gap on the the major 8 cricket playing nations of the World. Ideally the solution ought to come from the associates themselves but the reality militates against that.

Having said that I notice nobody seems to have noticed kenya want to succeed at the World Cup in the sub continent without their best ODI spinner (statistically) Hiren Varaiya

Posted by   on (January 19, 2011, 17:40 GMT)

This is why, as much as I love Associate cricket, I'm not sold on the idea of them competing in the World Cup (although Kenya may be the wrong team to hold up). Streamline the 50-over World Cup - the last thing we want to see is an Associate team bowled out for under 100, or take their own sweet time chasing a 300+ target they'll never get. Throw the doors open for the Twenty20 World Cup. If Kenya, Canada, Ireland etc. can last Twenty20 overs and pace a run-chase well, that will do them more benefit than simply making up the numbers at the larger event.

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Tour Results
Baroda XI v Kenya at Vadodara - Jan 18, 2011
Baroda XI won by 6 wickets (with 28 balls remaining)
Baroda XI v Kenya at Vadodara - Jan 16, 2011
Baroda XI won by 5 wickets (with 20 balls remaining)
Gujarat XI v Kenya at Ahmedabad - Jan 13, 2011
Gujarat XI won by 6 wickets (with 19 balls remaining)
Gujarat XI v Kenya at Ahmedabad - Jan 11, 2011
Gujarat XI won by 206 runs
Gujarat XI v Kenya at Ahmedabad - Jan 9, 2011
Gujarat XI won by 38 runs
More results »
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