x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

UAE cricketers in Kenya: Back to where it all started

The UAE national team will return to the country where they enjoyed the finest hour of their cricket history when they play their opening Intercontinental Cup tie in Kenya this month

The UAE national team will return to the country where they enjoyed the finest hour of their cricket history when they play their opening Intercontinental Cup tie in Kenya this month.

Back in 1994, the UAE beat the Kenyans in the final of the ICC Trophy in Nairobi, and thus earned qualification to play at the 1996 World Cup on the subcontinent.

That remains a lonely triumph for the Emirates, and the two nations have enjoyed contrasting fortunes in the game since.

Rare have been the times when the UAE have had the better of Kenya. Most of the time the UAE's amateurs have been left looking on enviously as the African side, with players on professional contracts, have played at every World Cup since.

In 2003, the Kenyans reached the semi-final, but their decline since has been marked. At this year's World Cup they were appalling. The team has now reached a new nadir, with several senior players - many of them survivors from 2003 - being jettisoned from the squad.

The fall out has been messy. "The move by [Cricket Kenya] is only fast-tracking the death of Kenyan cricket," Thomas Odoyo, the all-rounder who was one of the players to be binned, was quoted as saying.

Their squad for their opening game of the Intercontinental Cup, the four-day competition for the leading nations outside the Test sphere, will likely include a number of new faces.

Meanwhile, Kabir Khan, the UAE coach, has been busy putting in place the building blocks for a new future for the game here. His talented and experienced squad should travel to Kenya confident that the wheel of Associate cricket fortunes could be turning back their way.

 

pradley@thenational.ae