David Obuya on a mission to take Kenya cricket team back to top ten

Cricket Kenya head coach David Obuya. [Kelly Ayodi, Standard]

When former national team wicket keeper David Obuya was appointed Kenya men’s cricket team head coach last year, many did not believe in his capability to steer the boat safely to the shore.

But the former right-handed batting talisman is slowly disapproving the doubting Thomases especially after a glimmer of hope surfaced from his recent impressive show in the ICC Challenge League B matches in Jersey where Kenya won four of the five battles to retain her status in the tournament.

Obuya has his work cut out, with a clear direction of where he wants to head the country in the sport before he calls it a day.

“My mission is to return Kenya back to the top ten in world rankings, in both the One Day International (ODI) and in the T20 International.

“It is sad we lost our ODI status in 2014 and currently are ranked 30th overall with 1694 points in the T20,” he told Standard Sports.

And how does he want to achieve this lofty feat?

Obuya agrees this mission is a tall order, but feels it’s very possible and achievable with time.

“I have an elaborate plan, part of it is to work with Cricket Kenya to strengthen the youth academies in the country,” he said.

“I have already given a few young players call ups who I will introduce to international cricket through our ODI challenge against Nepal in the ongoing series at the Nairobi Gymkhana,” he said.

The 2003 ICC World Cup in South Africa marksman, however, warns that it will take time before his objective is achieved since Kenya has really dipped in the game following their absence in international cricket, more so playing on home soil.

“But I’m happy that everything is now falling back into place, we are a work in progress in this journey to get back to the top ten in both categories,” he said.

“It won’t happen overnight, this is a process that needs full support from every cricket stakeholder including the Cricket Kenya (CK) board members, sponsors and the players; I mean it’s a collective responsibility.”

Does he see Kenya qualifying for a sixth World Cup after the country’s last stint in India in 2011?

Obuya believes so. He says Kenya is the most talented among the All Associate Cricket nations.

“Our athletes are skilled, natural and have played in several World Cups. Basically, Kenya has more experience and what it takes to qualify for the World Cup,” said Obuya.

“It will only take a short while before we get there if we put everything in order and follow the duly laid down processes.”

Since his appointment as head coach, Obuya has handled several high profile matches including the ICC World Cup qualifiers in Rwanda, the ICC Challenge League B games in Uganda and Jersey and now the ongoing meet with Nepal in Nairobi.

On his target against Nepal in the T20 International series at the Gymkhana, Obuya says they are taking one game at a time.

Kenya lost the opening match of the first of five T20 International by 5 wickets to the visitors on Thursday evening before drawing level the following day when they beat them by 18 runs.

Nepal then bounced back to win the third against Kenya, beating their hosts by four wickets yesterday.

The hosts who won the toss and decided to bat put up a spirited 156 runs for the loss of two wickets in 20 overs.

But Obuya is still grateful for the full government support the national team has been receiving for the last two years which he says has enabled the squad travel far and wide to take part in over five international outings.

“Everyone is happy, we are really feeling the presence of the state in this team. This support is part of what is helping the team to improve gradually,” he said.

For those doubting his coaching abilities, Obuya reiterates that his appointment was purely-based on merit.

“I have gone through the ranks and the processes to be a competent tactician. I have all the documents required. I have my coaching certificates and licenses intact,” said Obuya.

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