Barry Silah @obel_barry
Kenyan cricket witnessed mixed fortunes in 2017. From the highs of the Under-19 men’s team qualifying for the World Cup to the lows of the senior men’s side being relegated to the ICC Division 3, the year had it all.
In July, the Under-19 team coached by Jimmy Kamande, ended a 13-year wait by qualifying for 2018 ICC Under-19 World Cup set for New Zealand from January 3 to February 13 after an emphatic seven-wicket win over Uganda at the Nairobi Gymkhana ground.
The victory was enough to send the Kenyan lads to the World Cup on a superior net run rate. Uganda were unbeaten in the tournament and looked set to clinch the only berth reserved for Africa at the World Cup until they lost to Kamande’s charges. Batting first, Uganda were routed for a paltry 60 in just 17.1 overs of their allotted 50 overs.
Uganda’s batsmen failed to cope with Kenya’s stiff bowling and tight fielding and lost wickets at a more regular interval without posting meaningful runs on the scoreboard. With the juniors doing well, pressure was on the senior side to also put in exemplary performances in the World Cricket League (WCL) Division 2 qualifiers which saw Kenya play in South Africa, Australia, Nepal, Namibia and Dubai while hosting Hong Kong for important matches in a bid to qualify for the 2019 World Cup in Bangladesh. However, heavy losses to Holland, Scotland and Papua New Guinea saw them relegated to the ICC Division 3, putting their qualification for the 2019 World Cup on hold.
The Women’s team was also not left behind as they finished third in the ICC T20 World Cup qualifiers in August in Harare, Zimbabwe behind the hosts and eventual winners Uganda. Lameck Onyango’s team also went to Rwanda and won the Kwibuka Memorial tournament for the second year in a row.
In the Nairobi Provincial Cricket Association Premier League, Stray Lions made history when they successfully defended their title unbeaten while in the Rift Valley Cricket Association Championship, Pirates Sports Club claimed the 50 over title in a league that was fraught with logistical and organisational challenges. The year also saw Cricket Kenya boss Jackie Janmohammed elected president of the 22-member Africa Cricket Association.