Sunday 25 March 2007 

Tikolo Demands More Games For Kenya

Kenya captain Steve Tikolo must be bored of the sound of his own voice.

After Saturday's seven-wicket defeat by England which knocked Kenya out of the World Cup, Tikolo repeated for the umpteenth time his call for Kenya to be given more one-day international opportunities to improve.

"I've been saying this since time immemorial -- more games," he told reporters.

"Between now and September there is nothing for us. If you want the associate members to come up you need to give them more games."

Their surprise run to the semi-final of the 2003 World Cup may have given a false impression that Kenya were part of the full cricketing fellowship but Tikolo said nothing could be further from the truth.

More matches against the best teams could help them develop top class players, and on the evidence of this World Cup, Tikolo is the only one they have at the moment.

His battling 76 in the seven-wicket defeat to England on Saturday showed why he has been good enough to play in four World Cups.

But at the age of 35, the chances of him making a fifth showpiece look remote.

"We'll see how my body goes. I want to still play for Kenya for the next few years," he said.

Without Tikolo, Kenya would be like a pride of Masai Mara lions without a roar.

There is some hope though. Spinners Jimmy Kamande and Hiren Varaiya looked superb against Canada in their opening Group C win and although they were less effective in the defeats by New Zealand and England, they showed enough guile.

Maurice Ouma is also a decent opening bat, although he let himself down with the odd piece of sloppy glovework behind the stumps.

Ravi Shah, who hit a confident 71 against New Zealand, is the best batsman after Tikolo but he is 34 while Thomas Odoyo has decent pace and 93 one-day caps to draw on at only 28 years of age.

But it is Odoyo's team mates who need more games at the highest level and until Tikolo's appeal is heeded by the International Cricket Council, Kenya will continue to struggle.

© Reuters 2007.
By Mark Meadows - Analysis

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