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Last Updated: Friday, 20 June, 2003, 10:49 GMT 11:49 UK
Obuya enjoys English summer
By Steve Beauchampe

If Collins Obuya's family home in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, hadn't been located opposite an Indian sports club, he might now be studying to be a doctor.

Instead, he is a national sporting hero taking the first tentative steps to a life of travel, fame and adventure.

Collins Obuya celebrates
Obuya took 13 wickets for Kenya during the World Cup

A visit to Coventry and North Warwickshire Cricket Club might appear something of a diversion from that path, but it is at such second XI outposts that 21-year old Obuya has been learning how to bowl in English conditions.

Now he has graduated to the Warwickshire first team, but in May and June, there is precious little working in a leggie's favour whatever the grade of English cricket.

"The conditions are new," acknowledges Obuya, "but I'm here to learn and improve. In Kenya we only play at weekends, but here it's sometimes six days a week.

"We simply don't get the specialist training sessions and high-level practice facilities that Warwickshire have."

There was perhaps a certain inevitability about Obuya's chosen sport.

"My brothers [Kennedy and David] played cricket at the sports club, with Kennedy selected for both the 1995 and 1999 Kenyan World Cup squads, so it was in the family.- but neither bowled leg breaks.

"I was a 13-year-old medium pacer, but I watched Saqlain Mushtaq at the '95 World Cup Finals and decided to try imitating him in the nets - and found it worked surprisingly well.

I miss friends and family and hope that my brothers might come over
Collins Obuya

"My brothers encouraged me to practice and whenever an international team played in Nairobi I'd go and study the leg-spinner. TV helped enormously too; it allowed me to examine technique, the variation and flight, what players such as Shane Warne did with their fingers."

Pre-World Cup, Obuya had been helping run brother Kennedy's internet café, fruit picking, and studying to be a doctor.

Yet though he'd previously toured South Africa, Zimbabwe, Namibia and Sri Lanka, it was his performances during Kenya's run to the semi-finals - including 5-24 against Sri Lanka - that changed everything.

"I needed to move abroad and was looking for a club in either England or Australia when Warwickshire came in."

For now, the medical career is on hold, and while learning his trade as a cricketer takes priority, there's an inevitable homesickness.

"I miss friends and family and hope that my brothers might come over, perhaps even to play in England. But I realise international cricket involves spending a lot of time away from home and it's the career I've strived hard for.

Birmingham city centre
Obuya has yet to familiarise himself with local attractions

"I arrived knowing very little about either the Warwickshire team or the region, but the club rent me an apartment and everyone here has been really supportive and friendly both on and off the field.

"Neil Carter has shown me around Birmingham and taken me shopping but there's been so much cricket and travelling to places like Kent, Somerset and Essex, that I'm still not really acquainted with Birmingham."

With Kenya striving for Test status by 2005, and the Kenyan Cricket Association keen to maintain the impetus created by the World Cup campaign, the globetrotting may soon start with a vengeance.

Compared to what lies ahead, Obuya may look back on his Warwickshire spell as a period of relative calm.




WARWICKSHIRE

SEE ALSO
Warwickshire sign Obuya
22 Apr 03  |  Warwickshire
Kenya's brothers in arms
11 Mar 03  |  Kenya
Hard work pays off for Obuya
25 Feb 03  |  Kenya
Tikolo hails Obuya
24 Feb 03  |  Team Pages


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