A breeding ground for future Kenyan stars
Last week Cricket Kenya released a list of the 20 players that were given full-time contracts. The amazing thing is that 11 of the players come from one club - The Kenya Kongonis Cricket Club. This just shows the work that the KKCC have been doing in nurturing youngsters into the game.
The Kenya Kongonis Cricket Club was founded in 1927 with the following objectives:
1. The playing and furtherance of the game of cricket in Kenya.
2. To encourage the development of youth cricket in Kenya.
3. To arrange KCC tours in other countries and visits to Kenya by similar bodies.
Looking at how the club has grown from strength to strength, one can see that the objectives have been followed to this day - 85 years on. To have 11 players representing the national side is a phenomenal achievement and other clubs around Kenya need to try and emulate this historic club. Here is a look at those young Kongonis Clots:
Australian-born Duncan Allen is the son of a safari guide in Kenya, and one of the most promising upcoming talents in the country. Last year at the under-19 World Cup Qualifiers in Ireland, Allan was the silver lining in the Kenyan team that finished second from bottom at the competition, taking 14 wickets and scoring 455 runs. He was subsequently named as player of the tournament.
A left-arm spinner in the Kenyan side, Ngoche comes from a long line of cricketers, with five members of his family having represented the country in the senior men’s and women’s sides. He is currently playing in the team with brothers James Ngoche and Nehemiah Odhiambo.
One of the cleanest hitters of a cricket ball that Kenya has had to date. He represented the Kenyan under-17s side while only 14 and is the club captain when the Kongonis play in the East African competitions.
Nelson Mandela Odhiambo is the nephew of one of the finest ever all-rounders that Kenya has produced - Thomas Odoyo. He is a great asset to the side and shows enormous promise with the ball. And although he started off slowly with the bat, he is slowly growing into an all-rounder like his uncle.
A new entrant into the Kenyan setup, Ibrahim impressed selectors during last year’s East Africa Cup and East Africa Premier League tournaments. He is a right-hand batsman and is also handy with the ball.
Kituku is a wicketkeeper who came into the side following the regional East Africa competitions. He played for coastal side Coast Pekee, and despite the fact that they finished at the bottom of the log in both the 20- and 50-over competitions, Kituku's performance with the bat and behind the stumps earned him a call up to the national side.
Dominic is a middle-order batsman who is very handy with the willow, and is even better with the ball. He has become one of Kenya's best pacers, alongside another Kongoni Elijah Otieno and opening bowler Nehemiah Odhiambo.
Lucas is another fast bowler in the Kenyan side, and claimed three wickets in his debut ODI game against the Netherlands last year. He isn't that handy with the bat, however his performances with the ball more than merit his inclusion in the squad.
Elijah represented Kenya at last year’s World Cup, and did well for the side. He is a medium pacer who gets wickets regularly; however his batting is quite woeful.
Seren is the son on a Kongoni - David Waters - who has been instrumental in the game of cricket in Kenya. He is currently studying at the Durham University, and turns out for their side regularly. He is an opening batsman for the Kenyans, and has proved his class, scoring 75 on his debut against Ireland. Although he had a disappointing World Cup, he does have the pedigree to become a star player for the National side.
Emmanuel is an up-and-coming bowler and selectors have high hopes for his future. While he may be behind Otieno, Odhiambo, Wesonga etc in the pecking order, he is a good player to have as a reserve.
In closing, I have to say that Kongonis is a shining example of how clubs in Kenya should operate in terms of grooming young cricketers. In the past the likes of Nairobi Gymkhana, Premier Club and more used to do the same; however Kongonis have continued this tradition, and must be given the credit they deserve. It’s nice to see that ex-players like the Obuya brothers have started their own cricket academies, where they train young up-and- coming sportsmen. If we can have a few more people getting involved in the same way then the future is bright for Kenyan Cricket.