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Last Updated:  Thursday, 13 March, 2003, 14:15 GMT
Overcoming the obstacles
By Thrasy Petropoulos
BBC Sport in Durban

Collins Obuya
Collins Obuya has been the pick of the Kenyan bowlers
Not the least surprising aspect of Kenya's astonishing run in the World Cup is that their players have succeeded in the face of administrative chaos back home.

As the spotlight of the cricketing world has come to rest on the east African country, so the enormous workload that lies ahead, if they are to be considered for Test status, has been revealed.

The allegations of mismanagement and misappropriation of funds by the Kenyan Cricket Association (KCA) have become common knowledge.

As has the threat of strike action by the players on the eve of the tournament after they had been asked to compete without pay.

But, above all else, the standard of cricket in the senior domestic league in Nairobi has been exposed as woefully below the standards needed to breed future Test cricketers.

Kenya's World Cup dream
15 Feb: Canada - won by four wickets
24 Feb: Sri Lanka - won by 53 runs
1 Mar: Bangladesh - won by 32 runs
12 Mar: Zimbabwe - won by seven wickets

On the other hand, a group of cricketers, who mostly have to buy their own equipment, have now beaten three Test nations - Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe.

The core of the batting has largely stayed the same for more than a decade, but they have unearthed a match-winning leg-spinner in 21-year-old Collins Obuya.

They are also one of the best fielding sides in the competition.

The challenge will be to keep the likes of Obuya, whose brothers Kennedy and David, are also in the squad, in the game when they return home.

Collins Obuya has already revealed that he is considering turning his back on cricket to become a doctor because his KCA salary of $700 (about 435) a month is not enough for him to leave home.

Ironically, the KCA has come into riches beyond its wildest expectations.

Already Kenya have been guaranteed $500,000 (310,000) for reaching the semi-finals, as well as fees for winning matches in earlier rounds.

Only last year the KCA was being investigated for the alleged disappearance of 1.3m profits earned from a televised quadrangular tournament held in Nairobi in 1999.

I must play in England where I would play two or three times a week
The job-seeking Collins Obuya

The man at the centre of the allegations, Sharad Ghai, was the chairman of the fixtures and cricket committees for the KCA and, until recently, also the owner of Media Plus, a company used to market that tournament.

Ghai has utterly rejected the allegations of corruption.

There is also annoyance in International Cricket Council circles that a cricket academy has not been built in Nairobi despite $50,000 being given to the KCA for that purpose.

For standards of domestic cricket to improve, tours into and out of the country must increase and three or four-day cricket must become commonplace.

"To get experience in the future I must play in England where I would play two or three times a week," said Collins Obuya, who took five for 25 in the recent win against Sri Lanka.

"At the moment I play only on Sundays and the standard is not very high.

HAVE YOUR SAY

"You play against 30 to 40-year olds. There are maybe one or two good players in each club."

Captain Steve Tikolo did, however, strike a positive note.

"We have to get some more youngsters into the game, which the administrators are working on," he said. "The game is spreading into schools outside Nairobi.

"We have a team of under-15s who are very talented. Probably in three or four years time those players will come through.

"The important thing is to get money into the game through sponsorship.

"I know a lot of guys who played cricket at a younger age who have gone abroad to study because they will not earn enough money playing cricket.

"The other thing is to play more four-day cricket. At the moment we only play occasional games against the MCC, although last year we beat Zimbabwe."





Links to more Kenya stories


 

SEE ALSO
Kenya surprise Aussie attack
13 Mar 03 |  World Cup
Kenya confound doubters
12 Mar 03 |  World Cup
Patil plans return home
12 Mar 03 |  World Cup
Have Your Say on Kenya
04 Jan 03 |  Have Your Say


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