Kennedy Otieno, the former Kenya wicketkeeper-batsman, has been appointed as a national selector by Cricket Kenya. An official release said Otieno, who played for Kenya as recently as 2009, would join former team-mate Alpesh Vadher and new Kenya coach Mike Hesson on a newly-constituted three-man selection panel.
Collins Obuya, Otieno's brother, who was recently named Kenya's new captain, and Cricket Kenya's panel of elite coaches would also have a role in selection, the release said. The new selection panel will be in charge of naming the national team, the A team and the Under-19 team, and will also recommend players for national contracts.
Just a year ago, Otieno was at loggerheads with Cricket Kenya over his non-selection and the board's rules for selection. He was one of the players behind a strike that led to Kenya's withdrawal from a short tour of England.
Otieno's appointment is the latest step in an effort by the board to completely revamp Kenyan cricket after a disastrous World Cup campaign in which they lost all their matches. After the tournament, the board conducted a comprehensive review into the team's performances which included a study of the selection process for the national team. Vadher, the former Kenya batsman, was named chairman of a new selection panel in June, Hesson was announced as coach on July 19, and now Otieno has become the third member of the panel.
A tough task awaits Otieno; five Kenya players recently refused national contracts and were left out of the squad for the Intercontinental Cup fixtures against the United Arab Emirates. Kenya had to select an inexperienced squad and ended up losing the second of two fifty-over matches against the UAE before being thrashed by 266 runs in the four-day game.
Otieno played 90 one-day internationals for Kenya and was part of three World Cup campaigns: in 1996, when they upset West Indies, 1999 and 2003, when they reached the semi-finals. He said the aim for the selectors was to see Kenya rise in the ICC ODI rankings, in which they are currently 13th. "This is an exciting time for Kenyan cricket with a lot of talent coming through as we look to build a squad capable of taking Cricket Kenya back up the rankings," he said.
Cricket Kenya chief-executive Tom Sears said Otieno's involvement in coaching was one of the reasons he had been appointed selector. "Kennedy has a wealth of knowledge and experience which he can offer and is still very much involved with senior league cricket in Kenya," Sears said. "With his knowledge of the players coming through and his coaching background he is an ideal national selector."