ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / Features

World Cup 2011

Kenyan cricket continues to regress

After their World Cup misadventure, Kenya remains an object lesson for other Associates of just how easily things can go wrong

Martin Williamson

March 21, 2011

Comments: 34 | Text size: A | A

World Cup performance

Collins Obuya attempts a big shot, Australia v Kenya, World Cup 2011, Group A, Bangalore, March 13, 2011
Collins Obuya's innings against Australia was the only silver lining in what was a very forgettable Kenyan World Cup campaign © Getty Images

Kenya travelled to the World Cup with the lowest expectations of the five Associates after a fairly dismal build-up in which they had shown only glimpses of the form which led them to the 2003 semi-finals and made them, for a time, the leading Associate country. Realistically, their aims were to try to beat Canada, the other Associate in their group, and possibly give Zimbabwe a good contest. They failed in both, losing to Canada by five wickets (two late wickets gave the result a more even slant than the reality) and Zimbabwe by a whopping 161 runs. The four games against Full Members were all woefully one-sided. By the end, all too familiar stories had started to circulate about rows between various player factions and the coach. The only professional - financial at least - Associate side was again behaving in a thoroughly unprofessional way and sadly the whole edifice could fall apart on their return home.


There were no real highs to speak of, although at least against Australia the Kenyan batting offered a little fight even if they were never close to pulling off an upset. For a brief period Collins Obuya (98*) and Tanmay Mishra (72) allowed them to dream, but you felt the Australians had quite a bit in reserve in case the Kenyans began to threaten. And that was about as good as it got.


Plenty of them to choose from, but their opening match against New Zealand, a side with painful memories of the subcontinent following recent dismal tours, set the tone for the rest of Kenya's World Cup. Jimmy Kamande won the toss, batted, and Kenya were blown away for 69 - their worst total in a World Cup - in 23.5 overs. New Zealand's openers knocked off the runs in eight overs and it was downhill from there. What was supposed to be a grand farewell for the veteran Steve Tikolo turned out - as predicted in the team preview - to be the dampest of squibs - 44 runs in five innings. Off the field he was, not for the first time, cited as being involved in the disagreements with the coach. He deserved a more dignified farewell after all he had achieved but this was one - some might say two - World Cups too far.


The glimmers of hope that there are come from the youngsters in the squad, even if Mishra was the only one to convert promise into achievement. A year ago Kenya's selectors toyed with dumping the old guard and throwing the kids in at the deep end. In the event, they decided against that, but on the showing in these six games, they could hardly have done any worse.


Where to start. The batsmen lacked application and technique, the bowlers provided far too many loose deliveries to ever be able to peg back even more moderate opponents. The old guard failed to deliver, and the youngsters simply lacked the experience to cope, and as a unit they never appeared to realise or accept what is needed to play cricket at this level. If Eldine Baptiste stands aside as coach then he will not be the first to have tried and failed to turn around a Kenyan side that too often gives the impression it believes it is the finished article.

"What was supposed to be a grand farewell for the veteran Steve Tikolo turned out to be the dampest of squibs - 44 runs in five innings"


It is hard to see where Kenyan cricket goes from here and the decline which set in seven years ago risks becoming terminal. Since beating Canada in the opening match of the 2007 World Cup, Kenya have lost 14 successive 50-over matches in major tournaments (World Cups and the ICC World Cricket League Division One).

What the World Cup underlined is that keeping a group of players on full-time contracts with a decent coach is a waste of time if they are not given good opposition to play on a regular basis. Cricket Kenya finds it impossible to attract anything other than other Associates and a few Indian state sides, as well as the occasional series against Bangladesh and Zimbabwe. It's simply not enough for the younger players to learn and improve. In that regard Kenya is no different from other Associates, but they feel the effects far more.

The board is trying. There are attempts to establish a domestic structure which will at least give a decent standard of cricket for the leading players, and the school structure is slowly beginning to bear fruit, but what is happening now is largely a result of a decade of neglect.

Kenya have slipped from the No. 1 Associate in 2003 to probably not even being in the top five now. Aside from Netherlands, Ireland and Canada, they are also trailing in the wake of Scotland and Afghanistan, and there is nothing to suggest they are likely to arrest the decline any time soon.

What is needed is a complete clear-out. It is also time for Cricket Kenya to look at whether it can maintain a professional side which has achieved so little.

Kenya remains an object lesson for other Associates of just how easily things can go wrong. However much money the ICC pumps in, success is not guaranteed, especially without the right level of exposure to good opposition, a strong grass-roots structure and players all pulling in the same direction.

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 Boy on (March 22, 2011, 11:54 GMT)

Bangladesh's inclusion as a full member was all political...one move ICC is surely appreciating/regretting! The vote will always swing to the Asian bloc...let's face it. Then how would one be expected to make 'big' strides in their development when they are confined to 'practice' with those below them? The reverse is obviously true on the other hand...FTP; total rubbish! How many teams have visited SA and not bothered to pass by Zim or Kenya for that matter for one offs? Non...there's no value in the whole thing...basically, ICC, style up!

Posted by Dru on (March 22, 2011, 11:36 GMT)

Cricket has changed over the years by surely the roots of the test teams is the local first class leagues which Kenya from I undersand dont have. They shouldnt get any money or exposure if the basics arent there. If there is a structure then there is hope but without there is only an opportunity to waste money which could be used some where else. I also dont see how one day exposure alone is going to raise standards, call me old fashioned but you need to know how to play the long game to even have a chance of competing with the test playing nations at one day level.

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 22, 2011, 9:50 GMT)

kenya should have regular ODI matches with test playing nation. If any minnows don't play regular competetive matches with test playing nation there standard is bound to deteriorate.one of them is Kenya... ICC is to blame.

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 22, 2011, 9:18 GMT)

First of all,let me remind all of u that it was by chance Ken got to semis in 03.The only big game they won was against SL.It was because they won by forfeit against NZ.The other victories were agianst sides like CAN,BAN&ZIM,which were as good as KEN.They played big sides regularly which even BAN & ZIM didn't.If they couldn't develop themselves how cm ICC is responsible..!Secondly,full membership has little to do with how u do in odi's.It is about whether a team can have good players coming up all the time,& i think this criterion is fine.So even if a handful of Irish can beat BAN 5-0,i'd still give full memship to the latter because it has a pro set up.Just imagine what if KEN had got the membership and then mismanged affairs like this...it'd have been a deadly blow to the game's image.Perhaps Ireland is cming close to the full membership but otherwise NED,SCO &CAN are too far away.A5TH asian team would be the 12 TH TEST SIDE.Becuse they have genuine following 4 d game..

Posted by C P on (March 22, 2011, 7:02 GMT)

ICC is the only one to be blamed for the dismal show of Associates, even if you think Ireland were great, think again, England stole Morgan from them. ICC thinks adding associates to the World Cup can make cricket a Global Game. Associates don't play in between the World Cups, and to prove it just recall Tanmay Mishra last played for Kenya for 2007 WC and now recalled for 2011 without playing a single match in between.

Solution : ICC should include the top 4 - 6 associates in any Tri-Series whenever one happens in their vicinity, so that they stand to play with the Big Boys regularly, only this exposure can make them confidant enough and the local talent will be inspired to join the team (otherwise most of players in the associates are also working elsewhere for their livelyhood).

For example : If there is a Tri-Series in South Africa involving, the hosts, India and England, just add Kenya or Neitherland to the scheme of things, so that they get the proper exposure and confidence.

Posted by Keshav on (March 22, 2011, 6:47 GMT)

Get 12 Teams.. Divide them in 3 groups. select 2 teams from each group. Play super six. Top 2 teams will play best of 3 finals. This should be the next cricket world cup structure. with this..lesser team will also get exposure and there will be tough competition for the top teams as well.

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 22, 2011, 6:27 GMT)

mr farooqi how are you so sure that canada, ireland, nederland and kenya having more talents than zim and bangladesh? do u have any statistics. bangladesh produced players like alok, ashraful, mashrafe, razzak, aftab, shakib, tamim and many more. see talent does not grow based on countries my friend and talent does not gurantee that you are the best side if u have plenty of them. if that was the situation nobody would ever be able to beat pakistan. its the management of team. yeah since the questions are arising nz and eng should banned from international cricket since they have lost to bangaldesh several times in this year and last year. please show due respect and don't throw some words which does not have an statistical and logical base.

Posted by Rajesh on (March 22, 2011, 6:16 GMT)

I agree with most views- Kenya should be banished into wilderness. Give ODI status to Ireland. Give a stern warning to Zimbabwe to improve performance or to get relegated. Though ODI is no indicator of Test capabilities, the only way Bangladesh will wake up is to strip them of Test Status. Unless such clean up acts are NOT done immediately after a major tournament like WC, the teams will not be too worried about their performance.

Posted by amit on (March 22, 2011, 4:45 GMT)

mine request to ICC is that please do something for IRELAND give them more exploser of international level make future schedule by including them, give them more and more chance to play against top level teams like INDIA,S.L,AUS,ENG etc bcoz world knws v well nw what happen with kenya (in 2003 this kenya team was superb but without ICC support every1 knws the cond.)dnt make IRELAND other kenya team plssss

Posted by Siddhant on (March 22, 2011, 4:42 GMT)

I think Afghanistan could have done much better than Kenya in this World Cup. Their should be some other criteria else of qualifying matches in order to judge whether a team is capable of putting up an impressive performance in the biggest tournament of cricket or not. The Kenyan approach was pretty incomprehensible. Actually, their cricket governing structure is still in search of proper management. The situation is very much similar to that of some worst conditioned Indian sports. Some professionals were made prepared for just participating in World Cup. Obviously, the result was meant to be deadening. Afghanistan, on other hand is moving through the phase of Renaissance (very similar to Ireland) after being released from the non-creative reign of Taliban. Fresh minded cricket enthusiastic, I think the boys would have shown much better than Kenya.

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