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Last Updated:  Tuesday, 18 March, 2003, 07:01 GMT
Suji's emotional rollercoaster
By Thrasy Petropoulos
BBC Sport in Durban

Martin Suji
Suji still rates the Windies win in 1996 ahead of this World Cup
Martin Suji has experienced every kind of emotion imaginable at the World Cup.

From the ecstasy of claiming the man-of-the-match award against Zimbabwe as Kenya clinched a semi-final birth, to the indignity of being carted for eight fours in three overs by Australia's openers.

But for Suji - as for most of the team - nothing has come close to matching the famous victory against the West Indies in the 1996 World Cup.

"This has been unbelievable and maybe one day it will all sink in," Suji said. "But that win against the West Indies was more special.

"It was our first real victory in a one-day international and it came against our childhood heroes.

Martin Suji profile
Born: 2/6/1971
One-day caps: 57
Wickets: 41
Average: 46.02
Best bowling: 4-41
Strike rate: 63.2

"It was a truly thrilling victory. We all wanted to be Viv Richards, Michael Holding and Curtly Ambrose as we were growing up."

Ironically, Kenya's heaviest defeat at this World Cup came at the hands of the West Indians, by 142 runs in Kimberley.

But they have beaten three other Test nations - Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe - and pushed Australia closer than many people imagined they were capable in their final Super Six game in Durban.

That match, however, could not have caused a greater contrast for Suji than his previous game, against Zimbabwe.

In Bloemfontein, Suji nipped out three top-order batsmen for 18 runs in eight overs, taking his tournament aggregate to eight wickets at an average of 26.9.

Growing up together

A better reflection of his role, however, is the six wickets at 15.5 that he has taken in matches that Kenya have won.

"It's a reward for working hard and for our improved training programme," Suji said.

"Bob Woolmer has played a big part in it, but it is also an indication of how close the team is.

"Most of us grew up together. I could have told you as a child how good Steve Tikolo and Maurice Odumbe were going to be.

The real impact of our achievement is in the increased interest of the game at home
Martin Suji

"Maurice was a very good footballer, but he chose cricket."

A measure of the strides taken by Kenya's cricketers is their refusal to accept the unfavourable terms originally offered by their cricket association.

The players are now to share the team's winnings from the tournament - guaranteed to exceed $500,000 (310,000).

"Once you start to perform you tend to revise your goals - both monetary and what you achieve on the field," Suji said.

"But the real impact of our achievement is in the increased interest of the game at home.

"Indigenous Kenyans are now more interested in the game.

"Even the government has supported us. The minister for sport and the vice president will be coming down for the semi-final and we received a message from the president after beating Zimbabwe."

In his third World Cup, Suji's body has probably taken more wear and tear than most 31-year-old cricketers.

"Perhaps that will have a bearing on how long I go on for.

"But why stop now?"

Why indeed?





Links to more Kenya stories


 

SEE ALSO
Have Your Say on Kenya
04 Jan 03 |  Have Your Say


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