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Last Updated:  Tuesday, 25 February, 2003, 15:20 GMT
Hard work pays off for Obuya
By Pranav Soneji

Leg-spin bowling is one of the most difficult arts to master.

Australian Shane Warne turns to 'guru' Terry Jenner for advice, and other exponents also use specialist coaches to develop their skills.

Kenyan hero Collins Obuya is an exception, however, as he has no mentor to whom he can turn.

Collins Obuya smiles at the airport on his way to South Africa
Obuya has a big future ahead of him

While most observers sat in disbelief watching Sri Lanka's explosive batting line-up wilt against Obuya, one former World Cup winner was wondering what all the fuss was about.

As Obuya perplexed the usually spin-savvy Sri Lankans, the cricket world was asking where this talented 21-year-old learned his trade.

But if it had not been for Balwinder Singh Sandhu's keen eye, Obuya might have been kicking a football instead of taking 5-24, the best bowling figures by a Kenyan in a one-day international.

A member of India's World Cup-winning side of 1983 , Sandhu was playing cricket as a professional for the Aga Khan Sports Club in Nairobi in 1995.

He was also coaching the Nairobi Provincial Cricket Association's junior team and happened to come across a young Obuya playing football with his friends at the club.

Not wanting to pass up a golden opportunity to recruit new blood, Sandhu asked Obuya if he wanted to play cricket.

He may not be technically up to scratch, but he is always composed under pressure
Kenya coach Sandeep Patil

"Collins was a small kid at that time, about 13 or 14-years old," said Sandhu, commonly - and affectionately - known as "Balu".

"I thought he was a good spinner, he had a very natural action. He had a good googly and top spinner.

"So I just worked on the basic bowling skills with him like his action, body position, follow through, that sort of thing."

But it is the youngster's maturity which impresses Kenyan coach Sandeep Patil, a former teammate of Sandhu.

"He may not be technically up to scratch, but he is always composed under pressure," said Patil.

"He only needs to improve on his concentration and temperament, which are the most important qualities at the highest level of cricket."

With the International Cricket Council (ICC) confirming its commitment to make Kenya the 11th Test-playing nation by 2006, the future looks bright for Obuya.

And after showing his potential against Sri Lanka, a number of top bowling coaches may soon be knocking at his door.

And according to Balu, Obuya is the perfect pupil.

"He was very keen, hard working young boy," he told BBC Sport's website.

"He was always very quiet, a good listener and definitely a good learner."

Links to more Kenya stories


Tikolo hails Obuya
24 Feb 03 |  Team Pages
Have Your Say on Sri Lanka
04 Jan 03 |  Have Your Say

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