Kenya Under-19 cricket team coach Jimmy Kamande believes their chances of emerging as a top associate at the 2018 edition of the ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup are as good as any of the 16 teams that have converged in New Zealand.
The tournament bowls off today where the Kenyan team, making their maiden appearance at the event after 16 years, are in placed in a tough Group ‘A’ alongside champions at the previous two editions West Indies (2016) and South Africa (2014) as well as hosts New Zealand.
Kamande and his charges were supposed to wind up their preparations on Thursday with a warm up match against India but the game was abandoned without a ball bowled because of bad weather.
Kenya had earlier lost by eight wickets to Canada in their first warm up match on Tuesday.
But despite that, Kamande is still looking to build on the extensive preparations they have had ahead of the tournament with the hope of finishing as the top associate.
Kamande’s side have been in Australia for a two weeks and they are confident they have done well to acclimatise to the erratic weather conditions.
“We are ready to go. It has been a long wait but it’s finally here. The boys have worked hard and are ready to get to our target. Even though we have come to be competitive, we also have our top goal which is to finish as the top associate,” Kamande said.
Kamande said they are not losing sleep because of the high level competition they expect from group favourites who have sounded warning shots with big wins in their practice games this week.
By finishing as the top associate, Kenya will not have to go through the qualifiers again. Kenya has failed to go past the qualifiers since 2002 when they last played at the event, in New Zealand.
Kenya had taken part in the three editions of the event before being subjected to the qualifiers after poor show.
Kenya open their campaign against South Africa tomorrow before taking on the hosts on Wednesday. They will wrap up the group assignments against defending champions West Indies on January 20. At the 1998 World Cup in South Africa, Kenya defeated only Scotland in the group stage. In the plate competition, they won two more games against Ireland and Papua New Guinea to finish 11th overall.
At the 2000 World Cup in Sri Lanka, Kenya finished last in their group. They lost to Pakistan and newcomers Nepal while their match against South Africa was abandoned.
In 2002 in New Zealand, Kenya again finished last in their group. The opening match against Australia was one of the most shameful days in Kenya’s cricket history. Australia racked up 480/6 from their 50 overs, the highest total in World Cup history. Kenya were dismissed for 50 runs, to lose by a whopping 430 runs, another shameful record.