RAY OF HOPE FOR CRICKET: National women’s team ends 2016 season on a high

CRICKET WOMEN KENYA TEAM Women Cricket Kenya team display trophy they won during the UAE International Women T20 Cup 2016. Dec 21, 2016. [PHOTO: JONAH ONYANGO/STANDARD]

Just like the national women’s football team, Harambee Starlets, breathed some life into the otherwise dull Kenyan football, their sisters in cricket brought a twinkle of hope following their historic T20 conquest away in United Arab Emirates.

The Kenyan girls defeated their hosts by five wickets to win their maiden international trophy and revive Kenya’s hopes of reclaiming its lost glory in cricket.

Kenya’s victory in the inaugural International Women’s T20 Cup crowned a promising year for local players as well as cricket enthusiasts. With the win, Kenya can only hope for better cricketing times in 2017.

What stood out was the formation of the women’s squad. Led by captain Daisy Wairimu, the girls from Nakuru did not disappoint as they played their hearts out to make Kenya proud.

Wairimu said they stood out because they seized every opportunity of performing well and never took anything for granted.

“We work very hard and never assume anything. We know the circumstances that surround us and all the hardships that bedevil us.

“Players from Nairobi have almost everything at their disposal. However, that is not the case with us from Nakuru. That is why we strive to utilise the little resources available and make the best out of it,” Wairimu said. Mary Wambui, also from Nakuru, was outstanding with her contribution, which saw her named Most Valuable Player in the UAE tournament. Efforts of experienced Sarah Bhakita, Margret Banja and Sharon Juma bore fruit, as upcoming players learnt the ropes of propelling Kenya to glory.

Seeking to emulate the men’s national team that reached semi-finals of the 2003 World Cup, the women’s squad is determined to qualify for the 2017 event. National team coach Lameck Onyango said the current players have what it takes to qualify for the global event.

“I have talented players and my main objective is to ensure they qualify and perform well at the World Cup. It is only after they make it happen that I can consider retiring from coaching,” Onyango said.

Cricket Kenya (CK) boss Jackie Janmohamed said the national body will continue to support the girls as they seek to qualify for the World Cup.

“You have Cricket Kenya’s full support as you seek to conquer the world. I am working very hard to organise friendly matches with teams from Europe so that we can all join hands in making the World Cup trip a reality.”

high profile matches

This year also saw Nairobi host the International Cricket Council (ICC) sanctioned men’s World Cricket League duel against Hong Kong. This was the first time the country was hosting high profile matches after ICC said Kenya was insecure following a series of terrorist attacks. The Kenyan boys finally got a chance to play on home soil after using Dubai as their temporary home ground for years.

Kenya drew 1-1 against their guests after winning by three wickets and losing by 39 runs through the Duckworth Lewis method in the first and second matches. Despite the Hong Kong match exposing Kenya’s shortcomings with the bat, the tie opened a new chapter, as it set stage for Kenya to host more ICC-endorsed matches. Kenya will next year host The Netherlands in another World Cricket League encounter.

Kenya also played host to Uganda, Qatar and Saudi Arabia in 50-overs and T20 quadrangular series. Kenya defeated Saudi Arabia by six wickets, but failed to shine in the shorter version of the game.

Meanwhile, Stray Lions won the Nairobi Provincial Cricket Association (NPCA) Super League title, consequently ending Kanbis’ dominance. Lions garnered 249 points, 22 more than Kanbis, who finished second, while Swamibapa were third with 218 points.

Kenya’s celebrated cricketer Maurice Odumbe was instrumental for Lions as they put up memorable performances to see his side win their first ever major title.

The participation of Indian players like Tanmay Mishra and Yusuf Pathan in the league also helped raise standards of the game.

 

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