Kenya news October 23, 2008

Banned Odumbe harbours World Cup ambitions

Cricinfo staff

Maurice Odumbe during the 2004 hearing which banned him for five years © Getty Images
Former Kenya captain Maurice Odumbe has spoken of his desire to return to international cricket when his five-year ban for associating with a known bookmaker ends next year.

Odumbe was banned after a hearing in 2004. At the time Justice Ahmed Ebrahim said that Odumbe was "dishonest and devious in his behaviour in relation to the game of cricket" and that he had exhibited no remorse. "He has not been found guilty of 'match-fixing' but, as I have indicated, his conduct was outrageously reprehensible," Ebrahim concluded. "In my view, a five-year ban would meet the justice of the case." Odumbe has attempted to have the ban overturned without success.

Speaking to the Nation, Odumbe said he harboured ambitions to play in one more World Cup. "I have no doubts in my mind that Kenya will be in the World Cup," he said. "I am keeping physically fit in preparation for my rejoining the team once this ban is over."

Locals sources doubted that Odumbe, who will be 40 when his ban ends in July 2009, has much real chance of regaining his place in the side. The selectors are known to be looking to the future, and it will be hard for Odumbe to force his way back into the reckoning.

Odumbe also told the Nation that "Ravi Shah should be recalled to the team for the qualifier and I believe he will readily agree to come back and assist to see us through."

Those comments did not go down well with those close to the game who recall that Shah, undoubtedly a class batsman, has consistently refused to help Kenya outside high-profile events. He returned shortly before the 2007 World Cup only to disappear again as soon as the tournament ended. Again, the selectors are likely to see his recall as a desperate measure and a retrograde step.

Odumbe, who was one of the stars of Kenya's World Cup success in 2003, is increasingly seen as a figure from the past, and a discredited one at that, and a link with the dark days that followed the tournament from which Kenyan cricket is still recovering.