The Rise and The Fall: Kenyan Cricket

Posted on February 1, 2014

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The news is out, and the news is bad. After 18 years as an official one day international nation, Kenya have officially lost ODI status. It isn’t just them, Canada and the Netherlands have also fallen by the wayside, but it is the downfall of Kenya that is the most depressing. When they burst onto the scene in the 1996 world cup, they were a breath of fresh air. Most cricket fans my age will remember the portly Tariq Iqbal snaffling Brian Lara behind the stumps as the mighty West Indies (yes, they were mighty then) were skittled out for 93 in a famous win. The 1999 world cup didn’t bring too much joy, but it was in 2003 that things really got spicy.

In that edition, the little minnow side made it all the way to the semi-finals. Sure, they got there mostly because of a couple of forfeits on safety grounds, but they got there nonetheless. They lost to India by 91 runs in the semi, but never has there been louder calls for a new test nation. It wasn’t to be, and the decline began. They lost their position as top associate to Ireland, and have slipped further and further down the pecking order as administrative issues have piled up on the side. Today they lost ODI status, and the smart money has the writing on the wall for cricket in the country full stop.

Sad is an adjective quite possibly over-used in sport, but in the case of Kenyan cricket it is quite apt. They have produced some remarkable players. The quality of Steve Tikolo has never been in doubt, with many calling him the greatest associate player ever. In his prime, he would have made most sides in the world. Thomas Odoyo made his debut in 1996 as a 17 year old, and has been a staple ever since, There genuinely haven’t been many better all-rounders. Kennedy Otieno, Maurice Odumbe, Collins Obuya, Tanmay Mishra, Hiren Varaiya, the list goes on. Much like Zimbabwe however, the past decade in cricket has been one of squabble and decay, as players who make a living from the game have been mistreated on a constant basis. The decline is no surprise, but that doesn’t make it any less depressing.

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