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Last Updated: Friday, 23 March 2007, 11:47 GMT
What happened to Kenya?
By Martin Gough
BBC Sport, St Lucia

Nobody expected Kenya to do well in the 2003 World Cup but by the end of the tournament many were calling for them to be given Test status.

Ravindu Shah
There is no route from school to club cricket, unless you can afford membership to a club

Ravindu Shah

They upset Sri Lanka in Nairobi in the group stages and, after two forfeitures worked in their favour and another upset victory over Zimbabwe, reached the semi-finals.

Along the way they impressed against other major nations, pushing Australia in a Super Six match and making India work for their place in the final.

Four years later, few expect them to get out of the first round. To do so they have to beat England in St Lucia on Saturday.

So what has happened in the last four years? Why are Kenya not at the top table of international cricket and why do few outside the team expect them to repeat their 2003 heroics?

Ravindu Shah, Kenya's leading scorer in South Africa four years ago, feels frustrated that that have not been able to play the top teams more regularly.

"We always seem to be playing catch-up. After a big tournament we don't have quality cricket to follow up," he told BBC Sport.

"Rather than progressing it's a stop-start situation.

"In the last four years we really haven't played any of the Test teams except Bangladesh and Zimbabwe so it's just nice to be playing against the best in the world."

606: DISCUSS KENYA
Oliver Brett - BBC Sport

However, the world game's governing body has consistently said that Kenya must organise its domestic structure better if they are to join the Test nations.

And that domestic structure has been in turmoil for much of the last four years.

There has been a battle between two rival organisations, pay disputes with players, allegations of fraud and the conviction of former captain Maurice Odumbe for match-fixing.

Cricket Kenya took over as the sole organiser in April 2005 and Shah says: "To be fair, probably a new association needs time to put things in place so we're waiting to see how they go.

"We are positive about our own ability, we have shown in the past we can perform."

Kenya's Steve Tikolo, man of the match against Canada
Kenya's Steve Tikolo, man of the match against Canada

"It's just a question of getting sufficient backing to be able to do it day in and day out, rather than in one-off upsets.

"Our local league structure hasn't really improved. Our development structure seems to be heading in the right direction.

"But there is no route from school to club cricket, unless you can afford membership to a club."

Unlike some of the other ICC associate members, Kenya has a good record of bringing young players into the side.

Tanmay Mishra and left-arm spinner Hiren Varaiya are impressive World Cup debutants this time around and Shah tips pace bowler Nehemiah Odhiambo as another prospect.

Shah, who has played club cricket in Hertfordshire, holds a British passport and would like to play in the county game, remains one of the team's stars, along with captain Steve Tikolo.

Now we're the number one associate country hopefully the ICC will assist Cricket Kenya financially

Kenya play in the ICC Intercontinental Cup, which features three-day games for associate members, seeking to make them more able to challenge the big nations in the one-day game.

But Shah believes talk of Test status is perhaps further away now than it was four years ago, with fewer teams like England A touring than used to be the case.

"We don't get enough one-day international cricket anyway. Locally we don't play four-day or three-day cricket.

"If the Intercontinental Cup increased and we play 10-12 games a year at least, and we have some sort of local structure then by all means we would love to play Test cricket."

"Now we're the number one associate country hopefully the ICC will assist Cricket Kenya financially and in developing a structure locally. That will definitely grow the game."

SEE ALSO
Kenya World Cup statistics
14 Mar 07 |  Cricket
New cricket structure for Kenya
17 Feb 05 |  Cricket
Kenya cricket row nears solution
04 Apr 05 |  Cricket


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