NAIROBI, Kenya, July 2 – Kenya begin their post Steve Tikolo era with an Intercontinental Cup match against Ireland at Eglinton on Friday.
Tikolo who retired as captain after the 2011 World Cup qualifiers has been the heartbeat of Kenya’s most memorable performances since he made his debut back in 1996 and will now play his role as a bit part player.
Maurice Ouma will captain the side for the first time as they side seeks vengeance for its loss in the same fixture last October to the men in green.
That loss was also the last time Kenya played a three day match and it will be interesting to see if they can get their groove back in this format of the game after a long lay off.
Outgoing coach Andy Kirsten has opted for a settled and experienced team that includes Tikolo, deputy captain Jimmy Kamande and Collins Obuya.
Batting performance will also be of primary concern after it wilted against a strong Irish bowling attack at the Gymkhana.
With the burden of being captain of his shoulders, Tikolo is seen as the man to anchor Kenya’s batting order in a quest to put up more batting numbers as he heads into the sunset stage of his career.
Kamande, Thomas Odoyo and Hiren Varaiya make up the rest of the ensemble cast charged with shoring up their team’s performance at the crease while the development of Seren Waters and Alex Obanda will also come into sharp focus in Northern Ireland.
Ireland have been denied the luxury of fielding a full strength squad after three of their top players pulled out due to club commitments and injury.
Captain William Poterfield and Boyd Rankin will be playing for their counties while wicket keeper Niall O’Brien will not be seen behind the stumps for six weeks after injuring his ankle in the World Twenty20.
Irish coach Phil Simmons is banking on that campaign in England to give his team the edge over the 2003 world cup semi finalists.
“They may be a bit rusty as they haven’t played a lot of cricket since the World Cup Qualifiers in April. That will be a big advantage for us, but it certainly won’t be easy," said Simmons.
Kenya: Maurice Ouma (capt), Jimmy Kamande (vice-capt), Kennedy Obuya, Alex Obanda, Steve Tikolo, Collins Obuya, Thomas Odoyo, Nehemiah Odhiambo, Lameck Ngoche, Peter Ongondo, Hiren Varaiya, Rakep Patel, Elijah Otieno, Seren Waters, David Obuya
Ireland: Kyle McCallan (capt), Andre Botha, Jeremy Bray, Andrew Britton, Peter Connell, Alex Cusack, Trent Johnston, Kevin O’Brien, Andrew Poynter, Paul Stirling, Regan West, Andrew White, Gary Wilson (wk).