Windies and Kenya get things off the mark in Jamaica By Adriel Richard
Guyana Chronicle
March 5, 2007

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DANIEL TOWN, Jamaica (CMC) – Hosts West Indies will get the ball rolling in Jamaica at Cricket World Cup 2007, when they face Kenya in the opening official warm-up match today at the Trelawny Multi-Purpose Stadium.

On several fronts, this match will be extra-special for the two sides, but the Kenyans will forever remember February 29, 1996, and not just for the significance of the leap year.

Their stunning 73-run win over a fairly solid West Indies side on a steamy day at the Nehru Stadium in Pune, India, 11 years ago was their first ever in a One-day International, and it was the fourth by an ICC Associate side in a CWC match.

West Indies captain Brian Lara is the only surviving member of the West Indies side from that contest, and it will forever be etched in his memory, since a routine trip to the opposition dressing room to offer congratulations turned sour.

Some of Lara’s remarks were leaked to an Indian gossip magazine, and it almost created a diplomatic incident between the region and South Africa, when it was reported the West Indies batting star spoke about the defeat in racial terms.

“I have no lasting memories of that match in 1996, but we are not going to categorise teams and say that they are minnows, and we are not going to take them lightly,” Lara told CMC Sport yesterday.

“In one of the most crucial rounds of the CWC – the first round – we’ve got two teams of similar depth and experience as Kenya which is Ireland and Zimbabwe, so this match will be very important to us, particularly guys like myself, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, who have not played a lot of cricket recently.

“This might not mean anything to the CWC, but we starting our preparations and the successful run that we want, we want to go through the CWC winning every single match, and we do not want to start out rethinking our situation against a team such as Kenya.”

Apart from the CWC 1996 match, the presence of Roger Harper as Kenya coach is another link between the two sides.

It seems like eons ago, but Harper was West Indies coach between 2000 and 2003, and he quit following his side’s first round exit at CWC 2003 jointly staged in South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Kenya.

Harper complained about a lack of professionalism among the players and some of the players that were under his watch during that competition will want to show him that they have come a long way.

“Winning will come down to who performs best on the day, since at the end of the day, the coaches can only do so much,” Lara said.

“We have a lot of respect for Roger. He spent some time with us last CWC, and we know he is going to prepare the Kenyans very well. We, however, have our artillery, and our coaching staff, and we are very confident of everyone pulling through.”

Equally, Kenya will want to show that they too, have come a long way, not just in nautical miles, but they will also want to show that reaching the semifinals of CWC 2003 was no fluke.

"Kenya is supposed to be the top associate country as far as cricket is concerned," Kenya coach Roger Harper said.

"But it doesn't mean anything unless you show it on the field and we have demonstrated this. I think winning the WCL meant a lot to this team, for Kenya as a whole, and we hope to do the same in the CWC."

Harper noted if his side came to the West Indies to make up numbers, they would have come with beach towels and swim trunks, but they have not done this.

"We are here to play serious cricket and perform as well as we can do at the CWC,” he said.

”We are very excited about the opportunity to come here and play in the CWC and display the talents to show the world how good a team we are and we are looking forward to the competition.

"Our objective is to come here and play as well as we can play, and if we do that the results will take care of themselves.

“So we're focusing on working hard and trying to get the best out of ourselves individually, and collectively as a team we are looking forward to the challenge.”

Both sides are also looking forward to christening the Trelawny Multi-purpose Stadium which was built in partnership with the Chinese government at a cost of US$30 million, and will also be used to host the Opening Ceremony next Sunday.

The stadium is located on the coastline of the northern parish of Trelawny, and stands at the geographical centre of the thriving Jamaican tourist industry, within 40 minutes drive of Montego Bay to the west and Ocho Rios to the east.

It is one of a large number of infrastructural and investment projects undertaken by the Government in western Jamaica, and the facility will be used after CWC 2007 to host a range of events that will include traditional activities in sports, as well as entertainment to attract tourists and Jamaicans alike.

One of the features of the facility is its seats which have been arranged in the colours and the design of the Jamaican flag.

The nature of the pitch is a mystery, but Jamaica cricket officials hope they can replicate the hard, true conditions that prevail at Sabina Park, the island’s main cricket venue in the Jamaica capital of Kingston.


WEST INDIES (from): Brian Lara (captain), Ian Bradshaw, Dwayne Bravo, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Corey Collymore, Chris Gayle, Kieron Pollard, Daren Powell, Denesh Ramdin, Marlon Samuels, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Lendl Simmons, Devon Smith, Dwayne Smith, Jerome Taylor.

KENYA (from): Steve Tikolo (captain), Rajesh Bhudia, Jimmy Kamande, Tanmay Mishra, Collins Obuya, David Obuya, Nehemiah Odhiambo, Thomas Odoyo, Peter Ongondo, Lameck Onyango, Maurice Ouma, Malhar Patel, Ravi Shah, Tony Suji, Hiren Varaiya.
UMPIRES: Billy Bowden, Brian Jerling.