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National cricket team departs for New Zealand to seek slot in global contest

CRICKET By By OSCAR PILIPILI | January 7th 2014

By OSCAR PILIPILI

KENYA: Kenya’s national cricket team departed for New Zealand last night ahead of the 2015 ICC World Cup Qualifiers scheduled to start in Christchurch on Monday.

The New Zealand show is the last qualification round for Associate Nations and others who failed to make it through Intercontinental Cup.

The qualifiers would involve ten countries divided into two groups of five and the top two finishers, after Super Six Stage, advance to the World Cup.

Kenya which is seeking its sixth appearance in the one day international World Cup goes to New Zealand with big changes in its squad.

Cricket Kenya (CK) selectors in bid to ensure the country does not miss out of the 2015 ship, has recalled a number of veteran players to the team.

All-rounder Steve Tikolo was recalled from retire to guide Kenya in the unsuccessful Twenty20 World Cup Qualifiers campaign played in Dubai last October.

Tikolo was retained and promoted to the rank of player/coach following resignation of Robin Brown last October.

Thomas Odoyo, a veteran of four World Cup events, will also participate in the event as player/coach.

Another significant change in the team is the elevation of Rakep Patel to captain.

He replaced another experienced all-rounder, Collins Obuya, who opted to surrender the captain’s armband after Kenya’s disastrous tour of Dubai.

Tikolo has shown a lot of faith in experience by calling Lameck Onyango to the team. In his own words, Tikolo said bowling order was a big let-down in Dubai and he hope the presence of Onyango would improve the game.

Patel sounded optimistic that although the competition would be tight, they are determined to play well and qualify for the worlds.

“Our first target would be to qualify for the Super Six Stage and thereafter we plan ahead,” he said in Nairobi yesterday.

He added that Kenya qualifying for the next World Cup would be a move towards the right direction for local cricket.

“We wasted the first chance to qualify through Intercontinental Cup. Then we also failed to make it through to 2014 Twenty20 World. This is now the last opportunity to redeem Kenyan cricket,” he said.

Kenya was once rated as a top Associate nation but the fame has faded with time.

Kenya was now struggling to beat teams like Canada, Scotland, the Netherlands and Afghanistan that were way behind them in yesteryears.

Failing to qualify for the next World Cup would prove disastrous to the development of cricket in Kenya.

Kenya plays in Group “B” against Uganda, Papua New Guinea, the Netherlands and Namibia in the preliminary round of the World Cup Qualifiers in New Zealand.

Rakep said: “All teams in our group are tough and so we expect very competitive matches.”

Top three finishers in the Group “B” join the best three teams in Pool “A” to form Super Six Stage.

Super Six final qualify for the 2015 World Cup.

 FIXTURES

Jan 10: Hong Kong v Kenya (Build-up)

Jan 11: Kenya v Nepal (Build-up)

Jan 13: Kenya v Papua New Guinea (WCQ)

Jan 17: Kenya v Namibia (WCQ)

Jan 19: Kenya v Uganda (WCQ)

Jan 23: Kenya v Netherlands (WCQ)

*WCQ denotes World Cup Qualifier 

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