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Last Updated:  Friday, 21 March, 2003, 07:28 GMT
Kenya seek next step
By Thrasy Petropoulos
BBC Sport in Durban

Steve Tikolo
Steve Tikolo is a talented batsman but is now 31
And so the most romantic story that cricket has thrown up ended as we all expected it to - unromantically.

Kenya, 1000-1 outsiders at the start of the tournament, were soundly beaten by India under the Kingsmead lights - as, realistically, they were always going to be.

There was to be no mystical ending, merely the affirmation there was more tale than fairy to the team that had surpassed every expectation by getting to the Super Sixes, let along the semi-final.

Was it worth it?

Undoubtedly yes, but a little perspective is needed in order to properly assess Kenya's involvement at the 2003 World Cup.

Had they not beaten Zimbabwe in the Super Sixes, they would still have squared off with India in the Durban semi-final.

And there lies the truth behind their progress.

Test status within the next three years is Kenya's ultimate objective
Though hardly their fault, Kenya were gifted a passage to the Super Sixes by New Zealand's reluctance to travel to Nairobi.

They deservedly beat Sri Lanka at home - their most impressive all-round performance - but with too many points being carried through from the group stage their progress was assured if certain results went their way.

And they did, with India beating New Zealand and Sri Lanka beating Zimbabwe.

Had they not beaten Zimbabwe to qualify by right for the semi-final, they would have made it to the last four anyway courtesy of wins over Canada, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

Rather than get carried away with the performance of the team, Kenya's success is best digested by looking at the achievements of the players.

In Collins Obuya, they have uncovered a young leg-spinner who will serve as an inspiration to other local Kenyan cricketers.

Collins Obuya
Spinner Collins Obuya has a bright future ahead of him
His five wickets against Sri Lanka alone would have been enough to earn him cult status.

But his three for 32 against Zimbabwe was all the more impressive because it came in a match that carried such significance.

Martin Suji had his day in the sun with his three for 19 in the same match.

And Aasif Karim, the 39 year-old who retired after the last World Cup, made the Australians sweat on every run in the Super Six match in Durban by claiming three for seven in eight overs.

As for the batsmen, there were brief glimpses of Steve Tikolo's renowned talents while Kennedy Obuya struck the ball hard on occasion.

Ravindu Shah, who scored two fifties and 46 against Australia, showed a technique that should see score him runs in both formats of the game.

And Test status within the next three years is, of course, Kenya's ultimate objective.

The ICC has already made it abundantly clear it does not want another Bangladesh on its hands - a country given Test status before their time

Whether they deserve to play in the Test arena is another matter.

While their World Cup performance will undoubtedly improve Kenya's financial lot, the administrative chaos within the country's cricket association and poor salaries being earned by its cricketers means progress will be slower than many would like.

The ICC has already made it abundantly clear it does not want another Bangladesh on its hands - a country given Test status before their time.

And with an average age of 29, Kenya's squad will have aged considerably by the time Test status could even be a possibility.

This is a worry given many of the cricketers were in their third World Cup and the international player base in Kenya is currently no more than 30.

This surely will change, but Kenya will be the ones to suffer if they get too much too soon.





Links to more Kenya stories


 

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


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