Ten years later, Rakep Patel still gets goosebumps on the pitch
Former National Cricket Team Captain, Rakep Patel been a national player on the Kenya Cricket team for over 10 years. He speaks about his undying love for the game and what the future of cricket in Kenya looks like.
Who introduced you to the world of cricket?
Well, when you have Indian cricket roots, it is hard to escape. I have been playing the game ever since I knew what a bat meant. This game is a part of me and cricket has always been with me.
Playing for your country is a huge achievement, how do you feel each time you represent Kenya?
There is no bigger honour and privilege than representing your country. It never gets old. It is the same feeling every time. Same nerves, same chest filled with pride and I get goosebumps always.
Looking back, who have you enjoyed working with; who is showing great potential?
I have enjoyed playing with Kenyan legends like Steve Tikolo and Thomas Odoyo. Just playing with them and learning tricks of the trade from them was invaluable. Talking about newcomers, Sachin Bhudia is someone I see with a special knack. He has the right ingredients to take Kenyan cricket by storm if guided the right way.
Let's talk about your most memorable game?
It was my first century against UAE. I was captaining the side and I remember vividly we didn’t field at full strength. Despite that circumstance, scoring a maiden hundred and above all winning the game was memorable and that game will always be very close to my heart.
There was a point that the Kenyan cricket team was a force to reckon. Where are we going wrong?
Well, it is hard to pinpoint what exactly went wrong. Like you said, we went from a force to reckon with to our current scenario. I think there can’t be one specific reason rather cumulatively many.
But mainly is poor development of talent. When I was young, school clubs were strong. Now it’s almost non-existent. When your feeder stops throwing up players, struggle is bound to happen.
Do you feel that local sportsmen and sporting communities are well supported by the country?
I don’t think I can say they aren’t well supported overall. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have the world beating and continental success of the Sevens rugby team as well, as volleyball team. I think every organization is unique.
Organizations need to gaze hard in the mirror on what they really want to achieve. If that does not happen, sports doesn’t take off. Talent is plenty it needs to be brought up and nurtured and that surely is work of the sports organization.
You must have a strict diet and exercise regimen?
Well, I obviously watch what I eat. I have a sweet tooth which makes it even more difficult for me.
Being the captain of the Kenyan Cricket Team is no easy feat, you did it effortlessly. How did you lead?
Man management is essential in a team sport. Without it there is no success. Period. All your men should be focused towards one objective. Team success, not individual success all should be on board towards that. Once you manage to bring all on board towards that goal the job gets easier.
You married to a lovely lady, can you tell us how the two of you met?
Well, we met many years ago through a friend, it was love at first sight and I am glad it’s still as lovely and may it last forever.
How does your other half handle the testing times when you are playing or touring?
It is tough for her to manage. We have a young boy so it’s doubly tough. I can never take her support for granted. She allows me to focus on the cricket as she holds the family and her career together.