Barry Silah @obel_barry
As days roll before Kenya’s under19 cricket team faces South Africa in Christchurch, New Zealand in the ICC World Cup, all eyes will be on mental preparedness. This is so because Kenya, which is an Associate Nation, is pooled in the Group of Death alongside test playing sides West Indies, South Africa and hosts New Zealand.
Their other Associate counterparts in the competition Ireland, Canada and Namibia are in more favourable groups in the championship slated to bowl off on the January 16.
However, pundits are in agreement that the lads can take the opportunity at the biggest stage to have fun. Former Kenyan skipper Aasif Karim has urged the juniors not to feel overwhelmed in the tournament.
“The boys are there on merit and so must maximise on the great opportunity. In this game, big names mean nothing so they need to go out and compete while having fun. Despite them not having quality preparations they need to believe and learn from the 1996 team which made history as debutants,” he said.
At the same time Nairobi Provincial Cricket Association Chairman who is a former international Tom Tikolo, has urged the team to carry the country’s mantle with pride.
“These are our ambassadors and we owe them support. All they need is strong character and compete so as to sell their names. There is no reason for fear because the difference between Associate nations and Test nations at this stage is minimal because individual talents are very similar,” said the former Aga Khan Sports Club player.
Meanwhile, national men’s team assistant coach Peter Ong’ondo has dubbed the chance as a learning curve that should be welcomed. “This is a big achievement and the boys need at least a win for morale.”