Troubled Kenya out to make impression in World Cup (Team Profile, World Cup Countdown)

By Bharat Sharma, IANS
Wednesday, February 2, 2011

NEW DELHI - Kenya, the first non-Test playing nation to play in the semi-finals of a World Cup, are battling poor form, lack of sponsors and shoddy governance, and are keen on making an impact in the 10th edition of the quadrennial event starting Feb 19 in the subcontinent.

Kenya, the surprise semi-finalists in 2003 in South Africa, hit a new low last year as they finished at the bottom of the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) World Cricket League in the Netherlands.

With veteran Steve Tikolo coming out of retirement to guide the young guns, the side captained by Jimmy Kamande has vowed to leave an impression in the mega event.

“There is no time to rest. We have made our mistakes but I can promise we will bounce back,” said Kamande.

Kenya are placed in Group A with Australia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, New Zealand, Canada and Zimbabwe. The team starts its World Cup campaign against New Zealand Feb 20 in Chennai.

Looking at the country’s four World Cup outings, the team is capable of springing a surprise.

Kenya shocked the cricket world by upsetting a formidable West Indies in their maiden Cup appearance in 1996. The next edition was a forgettable one as they lost all their league matches.

Four years later in South Africa came the finest moment in the country’s cricketing history. The team became the first non-Test playing nation to reach the semi-finals of a World Cup. En route the last four, Kenya stunned Sri Lanka in the super-six stage.

But after the success of 2003 the script went haywire for the African nation.

Tikolo, who captained the 2003 side and will be playing his fifth World Cup, recalled how the team went into a horrible phase after recording its finest moment.

“For a team that reached the World Cup semis, the board did nothing to organise matches against the Test playing nations. The players were not getting their payments. So naturally there was a lot of anger against the authorities.”

The right-handed batsman feels the dark days are over and the team with a mixture of youth and experience is keen to do well in the mega event.

Former South African batsman Jonty Rhodes has been working with the team, as a consultant, in the run-up to the World Cup and is also with the squad at the conditioning camp at International Cricket Council (ICC) High Performance Centre in Dubai.

A tour to India last month has helped the Kenyan team immensely. Though they failed to win any of the five matches against Gujarat and Baroda, but the tour has helped coach Eldine Baptiste, former West Indies fast bowler, to iron out the rough edges.

The Squad: Jimmy Kamande (captain), Seren Waters, Alex Obanda, David Obuya, Collins Obuya, Steve Tikolo, Tanmay Mishra, Rakep Patel, Morris Ouma, Thomas Odoyo, Nehemiah Odhiambo, Elijah Otieno, Peter Ongondo, Shem Ngoche, James Ngoche.

Fixture: Feb 20 vs New Zealand (Chennai), Feb 23 vs Pakistan (Hamvantota), March 1 vs Sri Lanka (Colombo), March 7 vs Canada (New Delhi), March 13 vs Australia (Bangalore), March 20 vs Zimbabwe (Kolkata).

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