How can we change Kenyan cricket?
There can only be one word to describe Kenya's performances in Scotland so far. OK, sorry I was wrong, there are several...Pathetic, useless, uninspired, tired... the list could go on and on.
In my past columns I mentioned that this was the best time for team Kenya to visit Scotland for their World cricket league and I-Cup matches as the Scots have been very poor of late. However, I guess that this time I was wrong. Kenya have played four games (two ODIs and two T20s) so far, losing them all.
Kenya's first match against the Scots was a very close-fought game, with Scotland emerging victorious by 12 runs. Scotland managed to score 242 runs in their 50 overs, with Matt Machan top scoring for the hosts with a very well played 114 runs from 11 balls.
Kenya's chase started off on a sour note, with Alex Obanda being dismissed with only four runs on the board. Morris Ouma and Irfan Karim added 86 run to the Kenyan total, before the loss of three quick wickets (Karim, Ouma and Obuya) for only 13 runs.
Tanmay Mishra and Rakep Patel tried to steady the Kenyan ship, however the loss of Rakep Patel started off a Kenyan collapse (which is getting all too common). It seemed as though Tanmay Mishra would get the side home, but with the lower order dropping around him like flies, it was a case off too little too late.
The second ODI saw Kenya bat first this time, and once again the top order failed to get a good score on the board. Alex Obanda was dismissed for three runs, Maurice Ouma for four and despite Duncan Allan and Collins Obuya getting into double figures, the performance was just not good enough.
Kenya had Tanmay Mishra to thank once again, as his top score of 59 managed to see the team score 183 runs. The rain then played spoil sport, with the tie reduced to 35 overs. Scotland needed to score 139 runs in their allocated overs, and the Kenyan bowlers just couldn't contain the hosts, with Kenya losing this game by four wickets.
The 1st T20 match between the two sides seemed to be going the visitors’ way, as they managed to contain Scotland to 113 runs. However, what followed from Kenya was shocking. The side just couldn't get going, as Scotland's bowlers picked up wickets at regular intervals to bowl the Kenyans out for a mere 78 to win the game by 35 runs.
The second T20 was a case of "same old, same old"; with Kenya only managing to score 100 runs in their innings. Scotland found the run chase quite easy, reaching their target with nine balls remaining and seven wickets in hand.
So the question I now ask is this: What can be done to change things with Kenya cricket? Is it a case of getting a better coach (since Robin Brown was brought in as a development coach and only took over once Mike Hesson left); or is it a case of shaking things up with the players?
The Kenyan cricket groups on Facebook have been asking the same question and there have been some interesting views brought up. Here are a few of them:
Alfie Njuguna (Former Kenyan cricketer):
The worst you can do as a coach is to create the wrong impression to the players under your charge. Going by our national team’s recent performance, we would be cheating ourselves to expect them to compete against the best in the world.
To be frank to them, if they are struggling against the ordinary part time cricketer, not the semi pro, what would happen if they came across the leather at 150kph? If we have ears, then let us hear. The time to play to qualify for tournaments is long gone, let us go back to the drawing board and work our way up by having our structures right.
The success of the past, for those who care to remember was built on the sound foundation of a competitive age group where players worked their way up, not on a balancing act. If you were not up to it, you stayed out. It is not too late to set up new targets, but it will be a waste of time to set the target with the current team in mind. This is my opinion, an honest opinion.
Shahid Bwibo (Former Kenyan ladies coach):
How can Cricket Kenya's aim for a place in the World Cup and they don't have grass roots cricket. It's only a matter of time before cricket will be history in this country.
I coached the girls national team back in 2005 and now in 2013, 90% of the girls are still there. This an indication that development of the game has gone backwards and that the current and the former administration have failed to develop new players.
When you keep on doing the same thing over and over again you will produce the same result. We must therefore look forward and do the correct thing.
David Obuya (Former Kenyan cricketer):
The biggest problem is you can’t limit selection to only 22 contracted players in a country of 40 million.
Rajab Ali (Former Kenyan cricketer):
Guys we need to help our boys. Can we as ex-cricketers help these boys get back? School structures are back but we don't have the right teaching ideas in place, we need to refresh our school development, adopt teaching skills to coaching skills.
I don't believe in coaches coming from overseas to coach our boys. We as locals can do a better job only if the national cricket body has faith in us and also at the same time save money instead of throwing millions of shillings towards an overseas coach. Money can be used to improve the teaching skills of our development coaches.
Some interesting thoughts from people who have played the game in Kenya. As you can see, most of them feel that Cricket Kenya needs to do more in terms of spreading the game across the country.
If this happens, then the coaches would have a bigger pool of players to work with and like David Obuya says "You can't limit selection to only 22 contracted players in a country of 40 million".