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Last Updated:  Friday, 28 February, 2003, 19:28 GMT

Bacher's high hopes for Kenya
By Oliver Brett
BBC Sport in Johannesburg

When Dr Ali Bacher pitched up at the Wanderers in an unflashy hatchback and wandered up to the net area to meet the Kenya team, there was virtually nobody there to greet the World Cup supremo.

Most journalists were either in Cape Town watching the big match between West Indies and Sri Lanka, or hovering around Centurion as the countdown to India and Pakistan match began in earnest.

Certainly, the Kenya players were a little unsure of themselves as Bacher hovered into view.

World Cup executive director, Dr Ali Bacher, tells BBC Sport of his 'special affinity' with Kenyan cricket.
By their own admission they have not done justice to their own potential
Bacher on Bangladesh
Like embarrassed schoolchildren being introduced to their new headteacher, they stared at their boots in uncomfortable fashion as the former chairman of South Africa cricket, commended each man on their efforts in the tournament.

Afterwards, Bacher spoke to BBC Sport about Kenya's impressive rise up the cricket ladder.

"Kenya's cricketers have shown terrific potential," he said.

"Their performance against Sri Lanka was outstanding - full of determination and commitment - a very good thing for African cricket."

He is proud the whole African continent is becoming a new breeding-ground for cricketing talent.

"South Africa has a very strong commitment to assist the development of African cricket beyond our borders.

"The World Cup itself has been a very African event."

So it has. Zimbabwe and Kenya have both hosted matches, and the Namibians, though generally totally outplayed, have had their moments too.

But it is with Kenya that Bacher has a special affinity.

"I know a lot of these Kenyan cricketers pretty well. Some of them played in Soweto, some of them came to the Academy," he added.

"I know Steve Tikolo very well. He was very friendly when he was in this area playing club cricket with my son David."

What of Bangladesh, though, who produced the shock of the 1999 World Cup by beating Pakistan, but who have not won an international match since?

"By their own admission they have not done justice to their own potential," says Bacher.

"But I have been to Dhaka. There are thousands of people there who are mad about cricket and they will come through.

"It took New Zealand about 29 Tests before they won their first match."

With the World Cup at its halfway point, does Bacher feel the early controversy has been put to one side?

"It's not for me to voice an opinion. It's really for the players, the umpires and spectators to say," he said

"Having said that, we live in a different world since 11 September.

"The world has changed and it would be naive to think you would have a cricket event of this magnitude without political issues surfacing.

"But now cricket will dominate and we are all looking forward to a tremendous climax to what we always knew would be a tremendous World Cup."

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