Payback time in Kenya
--Windies name strong XI for 1st one-dayer

By Tony Cozier in Nairobi
Stabroek News
August 15, 2001

Even after five years, the mere mention of Kenya is still enough to send a cold shiver down the spine of any self-respecting West Indian cricket enthusiast.

The loss in the 1996 World Cup, in the Indian city of Pune, remains a haunting and humiliating memory.

Bowled out for 93, of which 17 were extras, by a bunch of weekend cricketers in their first major tournament, the West Indies could relate to Goliath's shame when David felled him in biblical times.

It was the clearest signpost on the steep road to decline they have followed since.

After a hard and prolonged search for a smoother route, involving frequent changes of driver and navigator, they at last seem to be finding their bearings again.

It is ironic that Kenya, so prominent in the rapid spiral on their way down, should now be an early staging post for the steep climb back up. It started with a promising stop-over in Zimbabwe and has continued here with a similarly encouraging couple of first-class matches.

All that is required to make it ideal is a grand finale in the three one-day internationals today, Saturday and Sunday.

Any repetition of 1996, even in one match and by whatever margin, would spoil the effect and captain Carl Hooper and coach Roger Harper are aware from the last few days in Zimbabwe how quickly their young and inexperienced team can lose focus.

Victories over full-strength India in the final of the triangular one-day Coca Cola Cup and by an innings and 176 runs in the first Test over Zimbabwe were compromised by slack cricket that allowed the home team to turn a first innings deficit of 216 in the second Test to a lead of 347 and a declaration.

A rain-assisted draw avoided any serious embarrassment. There are no draws in the shorter version of the game so only a 3-0 triumph will suffice here.

Kenya were granted full one-day international - and first-class status - two years ago yet, in the interim, have been starved of the top-class cricket they need to develop.

They have played only 34 one-day internationals in all (beating only the West Indies and India of major opponents) and only one in the past year when they beaten by eight wickets by India while hosting the 10-team ICC Knockout tournament last October.

The West Indies are the first full?fledged Test team to tour here, a deficiency the International Cricket Council (ICC) needs to address if cricket is to improve in these parts.

While the game has only a limited pool of players from which to choose, Kenya has done more than South Africa and Zimbabwe in nurturing talent among the African population which was only minimally involved as recently as quarter-century ago when the white and Indian communities dominated.

Eleven of the 14 named yesterday are black Kenyans, the others of Indian descent. Six of them, including captain Maurice Odumbe who was Man of the Match, were there in 1996 for their most glorious victory so they do carry experience.

Only Shivnarine Chanderpaul survives from the West Indies eleven in Pune that day. It is a statistic that accentuates the youthful base of a team now being prepared for the future.

Marlon Samuels, at 20 the youngest of the emerging brigade, is omitted from today's team after playing in 21 of the 22 one-day internationals since his debut in January.

But the West Indies have abandoned the policy of packing seven batsmen that carried them to victory over India in their last one-day match. It is back to six batsmen, a keeper and four main bowlers with back-up off-spin from Hooper and Chris Gayle.

The teams:

West Indies: Carl Hooper (captain), Daren Ganga, Chris Gayle, Wavell Hinds, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Courtney Browne, Neil McGarrell, Corey Collymore, Colin Stuart and Reon King.

Kenya (from): Maurice Odumbe (captain), Edward Mboya, Jimmy Kamande, David Otieno (wicket-keeper), Steve Tikolo, Thomas Odoyo, Hitesh Modi, Martin Suji, Tony Suji, Charles Omondi, David Obuya, Peter Ochieng, Ravindu Shah and Brijlal Patel.