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

Comments: 25 | Text size: A | A

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.

Sriram Veera is a staff writer at ESPNcricinfo

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© ESPN EMEA Ltd.

Comments: 25 
Posted by   on (February 23, 2011, 1:14 GMT)

@degiant I didn't say minnows shouldn't be in the world cup, I was just saying that not being in the world cup doesn't mean you can't improve the standard of cricket in your country to a much higher standard if the ICC works hard on the domestic and grass roots development in these countries. Those rebel tours were many years apart and were more infrequent than Kenya's opportunities against top nations between world cups. Since 2003 they've played in triangular tournaments, and also first class cricket against test nations. No they haven't had enough cricket, but certainly as much as the rebels experienced (although the South Africans had several players playing county cricket which helped a lot too). I think 14 teams is fine, but bottom 4 qualifiers for the tournament should start the first week with a knockout to determine 1 or 2 minnows for the main draw. Then round robin then semis and final. (could be in 2 groups of 6 then quarters then semis then final)

Posted by Arvind3 on (February 21, 2011, 5:38 GMT)

Kenya had a bad day just like every other team. I'm sure they will express themselves during this tournament.

ICC's stand of reducing the number of teams must be condemned for it is like many right minded cricketers pointed out: " taking the world out of the world cup"! No one knows or wants to know a thing about Kenyan cricket or any other associate member's cricket and cricketers if not for the world cup. They need exposure. Cutting them out is just cruel. This should not be allowed.

Posted by bhaskar77 on (February 21, 2011, 2:48 GMT)

Kenya may have entered the semi-finals of the 2003 cup but that result was not due to good cricket alone...and no, I am not saying any of that was due to Kenya's doing either. The Associate/minnow teams have pulled off a few upsets, but their quality of cricket remains sub-par to average at best and poor on most days. That sort of performance is not unexpected since the countries don't get the same exposure the regular test-playing countries get. It would be good to have an year-long ODI league (international) where various countries played in brackets decided upon by the ICC, maybe something on the lines of Davis Cup in tennis.

Posted by Meety on (February 21, 2011, 0:31 GMT)

@John Firth - I agree, the Associates need exposure to playing against BETTER nations BETWEEN W/Cup events. I think that the FTP, should make provisions for Associates to participate in what would of been a "bi-lateral" series - turning into a 3 cornered contest. Suposing instead of Oz playing India in SEVEN ODIs, It could be Oz, India & say Afghanistan playing each other twice, then the final would be the 7th match. I know that the matches v Afghanistan would not be highly watched, but maybe the games could be played in venues/regions that don't normally see International cricket?

Posted by   on (February 21, 2011, 0:23 GMT)

Well, I agree with other regarding the omission of associates in the WC 2015. For the sake of our beloved game, ICC should provide the associate nations with occasional - if not regular - opportunities to play test nations. This way the associates would have some experience playing stronger teams, thus having a chance to improve their game. If every associate gets a chance to play every test nation, and the top ten teams are selected for WC based on ranking at the end of maybe 2013, ignoring the associates from the WC 2015 may be justified. Well, that's my 2 cents. I agree that failing of the so called minnows in this WC does not help their cause. If this trend continues, they themselves justify their omission from WC 2015.

Posted by hayjay on (February 20, 2011, 23:19 GMT)

Even in the last 2 world cups there has been a few upsets by minnows over the big boys, in 2003 Kenya beat Sri Lanka & Bangledesh & made it to the semis, in that same world cup England, Pakistan, South Africa, West Indies didn't even make it out of the 1st round. In 07 of course Ireland beat Pakistan & Bangledesh & made the super 8's, India & Pakistan didn't even make it that far, or even if you look at the world T20 when the Netherlands beat England. So as like many others I really cant understand how they've come to the conclusion of trying to completely drop the associate nations out of the world cup. I think the logical thing to do would be to drop it to 12 & thereby you're reducing the number of possible one-siders but still giving the associates something to strive for. Crickets going to die in these nations if they don't have a shot of making the sports showpiece event.

Posted by   on (February 20, 2011, 22:58 GMT)

Maybe a more equitable way to keep the competition interesting would be to have a couple of combined teams...maybe a combined second tier African nations side, combined Asian side, combined Americas side and combined European side? That gives the talented players from those areas a chance to shine on the stage and gain higher level experience as well as continuing to generate interest from their countries of origin. It would still make up 14 nations but the competition would be much better and more interesting.

Posted by degiant on (February 20, 2011, 22:01 GMT)

Mark Ling is dead wrong, yes SA was in the wilderness for over 20 years but they were still playing top class cricket thru those rebel tours. You can only improve by playing at a top level regularly. In my mind the teams should remain playing in the world cup so cricket can realy be a global sport as football is

Posted by MarkFielding on (February 20, 2011, 21:31 GMT)

i think it shouldne be left til the world cup for sides like Kenya to get to play test countries. In the interests of the sport we should be making sure the associates get to play a test nation more than once every 2 years.

Posted by Vilander on (February 20, 2011, 18:21 GMT)

it would be a huge mistake if icc removed associates from WC, we any way have the champions trophy make it a four year tournament on par with WC if you want.

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