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Long road for Kamande

NAIROBI, February 4- For a man who has known no other passion than to play cricket, Jimmy Kamande's rise to the Kenyan captaincy has not been all smooth sailing.

Ten years ago, his promising career was nearly nipped in the bud after he was accused of throwing during the 1999 World Cup in England.

And on his return home, things went from bad to worse for the young seamer when he was discarded by the national association.

"I felt very discouraged that I considered quitting. I did not bowl for two years," said Kamande.

Any youngster would have packed their gloves and walked away from the game altogether, but it took the encouragement of former Indian star batsman, Sandip Patil for Kamande to rekindle his interest in the sport.

Patil, the then Kenya coach, who steered the team to the semi-finals of the 2003 World Cup in South Africa, saw the potential in the player.

"I owe a lot to Patil. He saw the ability in me, and he pushed me to start playing again," said Kamande.

But he feels another reason for the turn-around was due to his youth.

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"I was still young. I knew that I still had a long time to work on my game," he added.

Having transformed himself into an off-spinner, Kamande successfully worked his way back into the team to become one of the most dependable players.

He was named the deputy captain after a new team leadership was announced by the Cricket Kenya (CK) selectors in mid-2009 following the retirement of long-serving skipper, Steve Tikolo.

He took over the reins when Morris Ouma resigned as skipper in October 2010.

Like his mentor Tikolo, Kamande, who has grown to establish himself as a great fielder, shows a tendency to play controlled knocks in the batting line-up and has often being counted upon to score the runs.

He is now relishing leading the team back to the subcontinent, where the East Africans will start as one of the minnows in the 14-team competition.

"It is a dream for everyone to captain his side to the World Cup. I know it is going to be challenge, but I hope we shall be able to reach the second round," said Kamande.

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