Kenya unchanged for Intercontinental Cup trip
Kenya selectors today announced an unchanged team from the one that perfomed so well against Bermuda and Canada as the squad continued preparations for their rescheduled Intercontinental Cup matches against Namibia and the UAE. Despite both Kennedy Obuya and Tanmay Mishra turning up to training in the last week, selectors preferred to stick with the team that delivered so much throughout 2007. While noting that all available players were discussed by the board, Chairman of Selectors David Waters noted that the final choices were by unanimous decision and underlined the selectors' confidence in the team saying:
"Other than the two World Cups, this team and squad has done everything asked of it".
In a time of great turmoil in Kenya, it was poignant that the selectors, who include Captain Steve Tikolo, Coach Alfred Njuguna and who also consulted at length with the Vice Captain, physio and assistant coach chose to opt for continued cohesion of a team that looks like a model for unity. Watching the squad in training before the announcement, it is clear that they have remained above the hatred that has split the rest of the nation and indeed look like an example that Kenya's politicians would do well to emulate.
Cricket Kenya were keen to stress that selection decisions were based on a combination of current form, presence at training, team cohesion, building for the long term and desire to field the best possible team. It is their hope that Kenya extend their lead at the top of the table with wins in both upcoming matches and the board's determination was mirrored in the hunger of the players. Fielding drills were executed with plenty of enthusiasm and little leeway was given for missed chances or stray throws.
While players such as Mishra and Obuya missed out, Cricket Kenya CEO Tom Tikolo was quick to point out that it was only due to not meeting the full criteria expected by the selection comittee. He drew attention to Kennedy Obuya's skill and noted that the player had performed well for Kenya in the past and would certainly be considered in the future should he remain available and as comitted at training as in the last few days. He also noted that there was plenty of pressure from the upcoming players such as Nelson Odhiambo, Francis Otieno and Ken Migai. Mishra is also likely to push for a place once he spends time in the middle again. Despite his talent, the youngster has not played competitive cricket since the Twenty-20 World Cup.
All in all, this is perhaps not a surprising squad despite some of the recent scores made in training matches and inspite of the interuptions to training from rain and riots, this is a team that can head to Sharjah with confidence. The team will play one more warm up match at the Ruaraka ground before jetting out on Saturday. If they can live up to expectations against Namibia and the UAE, they will bring some much needed cheer to a country badly in need of good news.
Steve Tikolo (cpt), Thomas Odoyo (v.cpt), Alex Obanda, Collins Obuya, Peter Ongondo, Nehemiah Odhiambo, Maurice Ouma, Elijah Otieno, Hiren Varaiya, David Obuya, Jimmy Kamande, Tony Suji, Lameck Onyango and Alfred Luseno.