ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / News
Kenya v New Zealand, Group A, World Cup 2011, Chennai
'The young boys were nervous' - Kamande
Sriram Veera at the MA Chidambaram Stadium
February 20, 2011
It was a sombre press conference. Jimmy Kamande, the Kenya captain, was in the hot seat and a New Zealand journalist couldn't resist asking the question. "Yesterday, you said you guys will express yourself and play the Kenyan brand of cricket. How does that comment sit now after today's performance?"
To his credit, Kamande didn't stutter or squirm but responded immediately, "Ya, we didn't express ourselves. The young boys were nervous. The two young lads who opened were a bit nervous but Collins Obuya was positive and we were gaining momentum but quick wickets in the middle set us back. In the next few games, we will express ourselves. The good thing is that this is done. It's out of the way. "
For what it's worth, it was out of the way very quickly. There was almost an inner conflict when watching the game and it was visible in the audience, at least in the press box. Some sniggered as the wickets tumbled, some were sympathetically silent and some were condescendingly quiet. A few wondered whether the ICC will get further ammunition to keep the minnows out of the next competition.
Kamande didn't want to get drawn into that debate but said Kenya will try their best to improve and gently suggested that it was the reverse that was in fact the reason for the debacle. "It's for ICC to decide to play 10 teams or 15 ... The disappointing thing is we get to play a Test team once around every two years or so. The more we play against these guys, the better you become. We play Pakistan next. I would be happy as long as we improve each and every game."
Today, perhaps, it was just the nerves. There was also a matter of skill. New Zealand, Hamish Bennett in particular, hurled it fast and full and the Kenya batsmen played around the ball, across the line. There is a huge difference between playing the ball late and being late on the ball. Kenya did the latter and crumbled. "It wasn't as if the ball was doing much but the lines and lengths were tight and some of our batsmen played too much across the line. We will go back and work on it. Next game, different opposition and it will be a different approach from us."
While Kenya and their fans, and their critics, will wait to see what unfurls in the future, it was time to breathe easy for New Zealand. It was the perfect way to start a tournament for a team that has been stumbling from one disaster to another. "We didn't expect that the game would get over so quickly," Vettori said. "It was nice. We are happy with how we performed. We don't expect all other matches to be this easier. I think bowling full and straight is going to be the key in this part of world. We will keep the same intensity for every game."
Bennett, the wrecker in chief, said he came to know he would be playing after Kyle Mills had an injury problem in the pre-match training session. I just said to myself that I will go straight, try to bowl hard and full to skid off the wicket and catch the pads of batsmen. Coming in as a replacement for the injured Mills in the playing XI, it was a good result for me. Hopefully, I can keep pushing for my selection".
New Zealand will hope the bowlers can hold their nerves against tougher opposition, Kenya that batsmen shed their nervousness quickly. There was evidence, even in this debacle, that they have a couple of batsmen who have the flair to provide some fun moments for their fans. As the tournament tagline says, this is the cup that counts, and it would be a pity if we don't get to see the Kenyans play with a bit more freedom.