Fresh Faces pose a challenge
When Cricket Kenya announced the launch of the Sahara Elite Leagues, one of the key points made by Tom Tikolo, CEO of Cricket Kenya, was that in the future national team selection would hinge on good performances in the Elite Leagues. While it is clear that with the small number of games being played, this must be taken to mean the whole season, it is interesting to look back on each format to see what the make up of a Kenya team in that format might be were those results used as the sole selection factor.
First to be completed is the 20-20 League, won convincingly by Steve Tikolo's Eastern Aces. Not surprisingly, Tikolo features high on both the top batting and bowling lists and once again underlines the Kenyan captain as a class act. Interestingly, of the top batsmen, the top 5 are all players who have played a number of internationals for Kenya. Steve Tikolo, Thomas Odoyo, Alex Obanda, David Obuya and Kennedy Obuya are all players one would have expected to rise to the top in such an event. Some of the other top 10 players in terms of total runs scored are however unexpected. Shashikant Sanghani played a very able back up to Tikolo and Obanda for the Aces, but is someone yet to make their mark on the selectors team sheet. Peter Ongondo would feature on most people's top bowler lists of Kenyan players, but in this format, he also proved handy with the bat. Amit Bhudia, Alpesh Bhudia and Rakep Patel are all players who have at one stage or another been touted as possibles for a call up without really been given a chance.
Sorting the bowling performances by wickets taken gives a less expected result. Top of the list with 5 is Rajesh Bhudia, a bowler very occasionally used by Kenya and one that on this evidence certainly deserves a better shot. He is followed by a group of bowlers with 4 wickets: Steve Tikolo, Tony Suji, Nelson Odhiambo, Ramesh Mepani and Alfred Luseno. Of these, probably the pick is Tony Suji who has been picked so often for Kenya as a batsman. In the 20-20 format, he showed that it was more in stifling runs than scoring that he is strong at. Next comes a trio of virtually unheard of players as far as national duty is concerned, each with 3 wickets: Moses Otieno, Shem Obado, and Harish Varsani.
Note here the absence of Odoyo, Ongondo, Kamande, Onyango, Nehemiah Odhiambo and Varaiya - all who are considered among the top choice bowlers for Kenya. It is true that some of these players were under bowled and others no doubt do not suit the format, but it is still interesting to note who out performed them.
It is difficult to know exactly how much to read into these results. After all, each team only played each other once and so not all players received equal opportunity. Take for example Stewart Kayne, Ramesh Mepani and Charles Obuya. In terms of batting, all got just enough of a chance to give a glimpse of vast potential, but not enough to ram that home. Similarly in the bowling department, Sagar Karia, Amit Bij and Harshil Sanghani all may have done much better with a few more overs, or could have been taken to the cleaners - we shall never know.
As well as the fact that some players had to be under utilised due to the number of matches, some will also be ill suited to this format, raising the argument that perhaps in time, Kenya will move to a position where a different team will be selected depending on the type of match to be played. Should such criteria be used to pick a 20-20 team from the league, it would probably look like this (in approximate batting order):
PLAYER TEAM tot runs average strike rate
Steve Tikolo (Capt) Eastern Aces 207 103.50 159.23
Thomas Odoyo (Capt) Northern Nomads 99 49.50 133.78
Alex Obanda Eastern Aces 97 48.50 98.98
David Obuya Northern Nomads 84 28.00 118.31
Kennedy Obuya (Capt) Southern Stars 82 27.33 102.50
Shashikant Sanghani Northern Nomads 76 38.00 116.92
Peter Ongondo (Capt) Western Chiefs 50 25.00 121.95
Amit Bhudia Eastern Aces 48 24.00 85.71
Alpesh Bhudia Southern Stars 43 14.33 89.58
Rakep Patel Northern Nomads 38 12.67 76.00
Jadavji Jeshani Western Chiefs 32 32.00 74.42
James Kamande Northern Nomads 32 16.00 82.05
David Maina Western Chiefs 32 16.00 76.19
Nehemiah Odhiambo Southern Stars 31 10.33 64.58
Ramesh Mepani Eastern Aces 28 28.00 200.00
Stewart Kayne Southern Stars 26 26* 144.44
Pritesh Lalji Western Chiefs 25 12.50 71.43
Amit Shukla Southern Stars 23 11.50 88.46
Prakash Pindolia Western Chiefs 22 11.00 78.57
Brijal Patel Southern Stars 22 7.33 75.86
Nilesh Jesani Western Chiefs 19 19.00 70.37
Charles Obuya Eastern Aces 18 18* 138.46
Dharmendra Mepani Southern Stars 17 17.00 100.00
Rajesh Bhudia Southern Stars 15 5.00 100.00
Morris Ouma Western Chiefs 12 12.00 46.15
Moses Otieno Western Chiefs 10 10.00 90.91
Ken Migai Western Chiefs 10 5.00 34.48
Anan Gore Northern Nomads 10 5.00 26.32
Mohammed Fazal Northern Nomads 9 9.00 60.00
Newton Muthee Eastern Aces 8 4.00 114.29
Tony Suji Western Chiefs 8 4.00 47.06
James Ngoche Western Chiefs 7 7* 63.64
Josephat Ababu Northern Nomads 7 7.00 70.00
Rajesh Varsani Southern Stars 6 6.00 54.55
Zahir Abbas Southern Stars 5 5* 50.00
Mansukh Naran Eastern Aces 4 4.00 50.00
Jai Trivedi Southern Stars 4 2.00 66.67
Alfred Luseno Northern Nomads 3 3* 75.00
Darshit Shah Southern Stars 3 3.00 50.00
Peter Kituku Southern Stars 3 1.50 33.33
Lameck Onyango Eastern Aces 2 2* 200.00
Hiren Varaiya Southern Stars 1 0.50 16.67
Elijah Otieno Eastern Aces 0 #DIV/0! #DIV/0!
Nelson Odhiambo Eastern Aces 0 #DIV/0! #DIV/0!
Harshil Sanghani Eastern Aces 0 #DIV/0! #DIV/0!
Vijay Kalyan Eastern Aces 0 #DIV/0! #DIV/0!
Kush Parmar Eastern Aces 0 #DIV/0! #DIV/0!
Mitesh Shanghani Eastern Aces 0 #DIV/0! #DIV/0!
Sagar Karia Eastern Aces 0 #DIV/0! #DIV/0!
Dominic Wesonga Northern Nomads 0 #DIV/0! #DIV/0!
Emmanuel Bundi Northern Nomads 0 #DIV/0! #DIV/0!
Kewal Patel Northern Nomads 0 #DIV/0! #DIV/0!
Kalpesh Patel Northern Nomads 0 #DIV/0! #DIV/0!
Jagdish Khetani Northern Nomads 0 #DIV/0! #DIV/0!
Collins Obuya Western Chiefs 0 #DIV/0! #DIV/0!
Harish Varsani Western Chiefs 0 #DIV/0! #DIV/0!
Hassan Abdi Western Chiefs 0 #DIV/0! #DIV/0!
Malhar Patel Western Chiefs 0 #DIV/0! #DIV/0!
Amit Bij Western Chiefs 0 #DIV/0! #DIV/0!
Ashish Bhatt Southern Stars 0 #DIV/0! #DIV/0!
Shem Obado Northern Nomads 0 0.00 #DIV/0!