40 not out: Odumbe walks back to the crease

Tuesday August 4 2009

Maurice Odumbe. Photo/FILE

Maurice Odumbe. Photo/FILE 

By RICHARD MWANGI

Maurice Odumbe begins his fresh innings on Wednesday after his five-year dismissal from cricket came to an end on Tuesday. Odumbe was banned for bringing the sport into disrepute by having contact with a known bookmaker.

He is now free to play the game again and, with some of his peers, including former skipper Steve Tikolo, still in the national team, the 40-year-old all-rounder believes he’s in with a shout.

“I am happy that the ban has finally come to an end. Even though a big chunk of my life has been taken away, I cannot be vengeful. I have forgiven the people who made me suffer,” Odumbe, who had several man-of-the-match performances in his three World Cup appearances, said.

“I will now go take out my kit from the store and clear the cobwebs.” Commenting on the end of Odumbe’s ban, Cricket Kenya chairman Samir Inamdar said: “Although he is welcome to play again, he cannot just walk in the national side; he has to come through his club like any other player.”

Play serious cricket

Inamdar added: “Odumbe has not played cricket for long. He has to play serious cricket for him to be selected in the squad.”

Tikolo, who played with Odumbe for several years, forming the best pairing the side has had for a long time, said: “It is okay for him to resume training. He could rejoin the squad if he works hard. All depends on his body.”

Tikolo said it has not been easy to get a replacement for Odumbe in the side as a spinner. He said Jimmy Kamande, an off breaker bowler, is the only one to come closer to fitting into Odumbe’s shoes with the ball.

Suffered immensely

Odumbe was banned by the Kenya Cricket Association in 2004. During the ban, he was not supposed to be involved in the game in any form in any way anywhere, and cricket being his sole source of income, the cricketer suffered immensely.

He was happy to hear that Inamdar had welcomed him back. “I could not have wished for more,” he said on Tuesday.