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New challenge for legend Tikolo


This week Cricket Uganda pulled a major coup over their neighbours Kenya by appointing one of the legends of Kenyan cricket as a batting coach for their national side.

Steve Ogonji Tikolo has undoubtedly been the best player to ever come out of Kenya, and will always have the term "legend" next to his name. Tikolo made his ODI debut for Kenya at the 1996 World Cup in a match against India. Coming in at number 3, he scored 65 runs before falling to Venkatapathy Raju.

He put in some more impressive performances in that tournament, starring in Kenya's shock win over the West Indies, and scoring 96 versus Sri Lanka. In 2002, Tikolo was appointed captain of the Kenya side, and he was instrumental in leading the team to the semifinals of the 2003 World Cup, where they lost to India.

Tikolo retired from international cricket in 2009, after leading the side to qualify for the 2011 World Cup that was held on the sub-continent; however he made a u-turn on that decision and returned to take part in that tournament.

It was after Kenya's final match, against Zimbabwe at Eden Gardens in Kolkata, that Tikolo officially retired – this time for good. It was only fitting that his final match came against a team that he knew quite well, having played in Harare for a few years. What was even more touching was the reception he received from the likes of Taibu, Ervine, Taylor and the rest, who presented him with a stump from that game as a retirement present.

Tikolo continued to be involved in cricket after retiring, both as a coach as well as a SuperSport commentator during the regional East Africa tournaments. He has set up a cricket academy in Kenya called "The legends cricket nursery" alongside other ex-Kenyan internationals such as Thomas Odoyo and Jimmy Kamande.

Now, as he embarks on a new journey with the Ugandan cricket side, I can only wish him good luck, and I'm sure that we will begin to see big changes from the Ugandan players with Steve teaching them how to wield the bat.

And finally to a little bit of good news. Cricket Kenya have released the fixtures for this year's East Africa competitions which kick off on 4 August and which will be shown live on SuperSport. Once again the tournament will comprise four Kenyan teams and two Ugandan teams, but there will be a small change in the format. All teams will play each other once in both the East Africa Premier League (the 20-over competition), and the East Africa Cup (the 50-over competition).

The top team after the first round of matches will automatically move to the final, while the bottom team will be knocked out. This leaves the other four teams to battle it out for the final slot. The team that finishes second will take on the side that finishes fifth, while third will play fourth. The winners of these games will then take each other on for a the right to play in the final.

It sounds quite confusing, however it should make the matches more interesting as teams will have to start with a bang right from the off.


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