Wisden Cricketers' Almanack 2007

Kenyan cricket in 2006

Martin Williamson

The progress in Kenyan cricket, evident by late 2005 following the replacement of the old administrative regime, continued steadily. Helped by the ICC's more relaxed definition of a one-day international, they managed to play 16 in 2006. In the previous two and a half years, wracked by internal disputes, they managed only two.

The mess inherited by the new board in May 2005 meant it had to work hard just to restore the game's credibility. But, under the chairmanship of the hard-working Samir Inamdar, there were signs that things were heading in the right direction. In November, the board signed its first major deal for several years: a six-year contract with Nimbus for commercial and TV rights. With the players back on board after three years of battling the administrators, and Roger Harper ensconced as coach, Kenya were able to re-enter the international fold with a tour of Zimbabwe, and almost pulled off an upset. The series was drawn 2-2 (the decider was washed out), and Kenya might have done better had they not been obliged to play the first game less than 36 hours after arriving, without even having the benefit of a net.

Hopes were high for the tour of Bangladesh which followed, but Kenya's aspirations were quickly deflated: they lost all four one-day internationals, and a three-match return series in Nairobi in August was equally lopsided. Kenya did, however, see off two of the World Cup qualifiers: Canada 2-0 in Toronto, and Bermuda 3-0 in Mombasa. There was also a brief tour of Uganda, a side many felt capable of giving their neighbours a bloody nose. As it was, Kenya won comfortably. Kenya's participation in the Intercontinental Cup, the ICC's first-class competition for leading Associates, was ruined by rain.

All the games highlighted the fragility of Kenya's batting, and how it was still dependent on 35-year-old Steve Tikolo. The selectors experimented with a succession of opening batsmen without finding a combination that offered any stability, and the innings often seemed to depend on Tikolo and Tanmay Mishra, a precocious 19-year-old who grew in confidence as the year went on.

The new board was keen to restore cricket both in schools and clubs, where it had all but died out through neglect. Kanis A and B maintained their dominance of the Nairobi league, retaining both divisional titles. The other major league, in Mombasa, also ran successfully, and a sign that the game was spreading came in the Rift Valley province, where a 12-team competition was launched.

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