Saturday, April 18, 2009

Kenya skipper Tikolo’s takes a bow after brilliant innings

Kenya's Maurice Ouma (L) and captain Steve Tikolo run between the wickets in a past match.  Photo/FILE .

Newly appointed Kenya captain Maurice Ouma (L) and captain Steve Tikolo run between the wickets in a past match. Ouma’s face a huge task of trying to rally the team for a win in the Intercontinental Cup match against Ireland. Photo/CHRIS OMOLLO Photo/FILE . 

By RICHARD MWANGI

The end of the 2011 World Cup qualifiers will also mark the termination of the brilliant cricket career of Kenya captain Steve Tikolo who will lead Kenya out for the last time against Netherlands on Sunday in Potchefstroom, South Africa.

Tikolo told James Fitzgerald of the ICC that he would not be around for the fifth World Cup.

 “My legs are going now and I’m getting a little too slow. I think it’s time to let the youngsters come through,” said 37-year-old Tikolo.  

He added: “I will probably play until the end of this season but I will not be around for the next World Cup. There is plenty of young talent coming through in Kenya so I think the time is right for me to step down. I am very happy we qualified.”

The other senior players in the squad who could also miss the 2011 event are Kennedy Obuya (37) and Lameck Onyango (35). However, Thomas Odoyo (31) who at 17 year-old was the baby of the 1996 World Cup, will likely take over the mantle of leadership from Tikolo. Odoyo has been vice-captain since 2002.

Qualifying duty

Tikolo has played for Kenya since the 1994 World Cup and has been captain for the past seven years. The contest with the Dutch will be Tikolo’s last World Cup qualifying duty for the skipper.

The fight for the coveted trophy will be between Ireland and Canada at the Centurion in Johannesburg.

The four teams have already qualified for the World Cup to be jointly hosted by India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

This was Tikolo’s third ICC World Cup qualifier. He made his international debut in the event held in 1994 in Nairobi where Kenya lost to United Arab Emirates in the final. The two finalists were joined by the Netherlands in the 1996 World Cup jointly held by India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

The second time Tikolo played for Kenya in the World Cup qualifying rounds was in 1997 when in Malaysia when Kenya lost to Bangladesh in a closely contested final but still qualified for the 1999 World Cup in England

In July of the same year both Kenya and Bangladesh were accorded one day international status and three years later Bangladesh was elevated to Test as Kenya was accorded automatic qualification to the 2003 World Cup jointly hosted by South Africa, Zimbabwe and Kenya.

Tikolo was captain when Kenya sensationally reached the semi final of the 2003 Word Cup in South Africa. Kenya’s splendid performance in 2003 earned them another automatic qualification to the 2007 World Cup in the Caribbean although Kenya did not perform as well as in 2003 going in the preliminary rounds.

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