Kenya gains promotion to ICC Africa Division One category

The Kenya U19 Cricket team with the runners up trophy from the ICC U19 Men's Cricket World Cup Africa Qualifier in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania.[ICC]

Kenya has gained promotion to the Africa Division One category following a second-place finish at the just concluded ICC U19 Men's Cricket World Cup Africa Qualifier in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania.

Kenya finished runners up on seven points, two behind champions Namibia who bagged the sole ticket to the 2024 ICC U-19 Men's Cricket World Cup in Sri Lanka.

Uganda were third on five points. Sierra Leone (four points), Tanzania (three) and Nigeria (two) were all relegated to the Africa Division Two category.

"Being promoted to the Division One is a good gesture for the country, it's good we are now back to where we belong," Kenya's head coach Josephat Irungu told Standard sports.

Being a Division One member means the country will no longer be subjected to very tedious and painful qualifiers ahead of high-profile tournaments run by the world cricket governing body, the ICC.

Prior to the Tanzania showpiece, Kenya had to seek qualification in the Africa Division Two category held in Abuja, Nigeria last year.

Vishil Patel who captained Kenya U19 team at the just concluded ICC World Cup Qualifiers in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.[Jonah Onyango,Standard]

Kenya dropped in rankings to the lower cadre following internal wrangles that saw Cricket Kenya federation disbanded and a care-taker committee formed by the then Sports Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed.

Despite not punching a ticket to the next year's world cup, Irungu says the qualifiers in Tanzania gave his charges exposure, adding that they have returned to the country with lots of experience.

The tactician says proper structures needed to be put in place to help the boys transition well to the senior national team as they will be overage when the next U19 World Cup Qualifiers are held in 2026.

"We need to establish a Development side, a Kenya U23 team and the Kenya 'A' outfit to be followed in that order before the players are fully absorbed into the senior national team," Irungu stated.

Irungu has also suggested more friendlies and an U19 Cricket League to toughen the boys into their transition to the senior team.

He is grateful that Cricket Kenya and the government was able to take the team to high performance training in Mumbai, India before they departed to Tanzania for the World Cup Qualifiers.

Vishil Patel who captained Kenya U19 team at the just concluded ICC World Cup Qualifiers in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.[Jonah Onyango,Standard]

Team captain Vishil Patel echoed Irungu's sentiments saying: "We had a good tournament in Dar, emerging runners up is such a lofty achievement.

"Our spin department was definitely the strongest in the whole tournament, with spinners taking most of the wickets in the team, we had instances of performance with the bat too. We had different Man of the Match winners from the same team, meaning that someone different was ready to step up on every occasion."

He added: "Batting under different conditions was what we picked as a lesson for the team, we also learnt the importance of batting throughout the innings. Having a good and deep batting lineup accompanied with a lethal bowling attack and good fielding skills is key for the next team that will represent Kenya in the next qualifier.

"It was a great experience for us players and we would like to thank the technical staff, the supporters, Tanzania Cricket Association, Cricket Kenya and last but not least the ICC for providing the opportunity for youngsters to show their performance on a world stage."

The Kenya U19 Cricket Squad for the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup Africa Qualifier in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania

Vishil Patel (captain), .Brian Likavu , Darsh Pachani, Yash Gohil, Raj Manji, Vaibhav Naresh, Dedan Omondi, Ken Mwangi, Stian Smith, Aarnav Patel, Hitendra Sanghani, Vatsal Shah, Neel Doshi, Krish Haria. Manav Devani, Hassan Lijodi

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