England outlast brave Kenya|
John Houlihan - 18 May 1999
England disposed of giant-killers Kenya in the second match of their 1999 World Cup campaign, romping home to a convincing nine wicket victory after a rain affected day's play at the St Lawrence ground Canterbury in the Garden county of Kent.
After a delayed start, play eventually got underway an hour and a half late and England skipper Alex Stewart called his second toss of the tournament correctly and invited the Kenyans to bat. England made one change from the side which beat Sri Lanka with off-spinner Robert Croft replacing all-rounder Adam Hollioake in the starting line-up.
Darren Gough opened the bowling from the Neckington Road End in overcast but brightening conditions with England continuing their strategy of using Ian Austin as Gough's new-ball partner. Gough bowled with good pace and hit Ravindu Shah on the body in his second over, but both Shah and fellow opener Kennedy Otieno played straight, looked solid in defence and seemed to be negotiating the England bowlers' opening burst with comparative ease. Yet in only Austin's second over, Oteino nibbled outside off-stump, flicked a regulation edge to Graham Thorpe at second slip and England had their initial breakthrough.
Austin troubled new arrival Steve Tikolo with a huge appeal for caught behind, but Kenya's star batsman survived and the Kenyans continued their cautious approach until the seventh over, when Tikolo showed something of his class, driving Gough through wide mid-off to bring up the Africans' first boundary of the day.
England's in-form man Alan Mullally replaced Gough after ten overs and bowled a tight, controlled spell, passing the outside edge on a couple of occasions. Tikolo thumped Austin through the covers for two boundaries in the 12th over, which prompted a change to local favourite Mark Ealham which drew applause and appreciation from the partisan Kent crowd. The Kenyan batsman kept pace with each other, both moving into the thirties and continued to make steady progress during the first twenty overs, with Tikolo in particular growing in confidence and starting to play some attractive and forceful strokes.
The Kenyans fine partnership continued, with none of the England seamers looking particularly penetrative and Croft replaced Mullally in the search for the illusive wicket. Tikolo continued to flourish, lofting Ealham over mid-wicket to move into the forties and pulling and sweeping Croft to the point of distraction. Tikolo moved to a richly deserved fifty with a glance down to fine leg which prompted enthusiastic rejoicing from the Kenyan supporters ensconced below the press box. England's frustrations were beginning to show and Gough was re-introduced to immediate effect when he had Shah caught at the wicket for an accomplished 46 off 80 balls, to leave the Kenyans on 107-2.
Kenya's vice-captain Maurice Odumbe strode to the wicket and announced his presence with two audacious reverse sweeps, but was then bowled by a big in-ducker from Gough which cleaned hum up for a quickfire six and brought up Gough's hundredth ODI wicket. With Gough and Croft operating in tandem, England pressed for another wicket and the unfortunate victim was Hitesh Modi who was run out by a rapier-like direct hit from Neil Fairbrother at short fine leg and from a position of relative strength, the Kenyans suddenly found themselves at 130-4.
As the run rate slowed, the fixture looked to be reverting to form and Croft bowled the advancing Alpesh Vahder through his legs with the score on 144-5. Even Tikolo seemed to lose some of his earlier fluency, but Kenya posted their 150 in the 40th over, as Croft finished an impressive spell with figures of 10-1-32-1. Without further addition to the score, the Kenyan's suffered a massive body blow when their hero Tikolo departed to a false shot off Ealham, with Gough accepting the skier at mid-on with his customary huge grin. Tikolo had been the cornerstone of the Kenyan batting and his 71 from 107 balls had anchored the innings and resisted England's best efforts throughout the day.
With Thomas Odoyo joining skipper Aasif Karim, the seventh wicket pair looked for some power hitting in the final overs to advance their score with Odoyo in sparkling form spanking Mullally for a huge six over square leg. England made good use of the yorker at the death, with Ealham dismissing Karim for 9, and Gough producing a late in-swinger to snare Tony Suji for just 4, with the total on 186-8. Gough mopped up Mohammed Sheikh with a reverse swinging special in the penultimate over to finish with figures of 10-1-34-4 and Graham Thorpe ran out Maurice Suji with Odoyo finished unbeaten with 34 off just 32 balls.
England continued to open their batting with Alec Stewart and Nasser Hussain, while Kenya's attack was spearheaded by pace brothers Martin and Tony Suji. Neither batsman was in particularly expansive mood and Hussain survived a loud shout for lbw from a nippy delivery from Tony Suji, but the England pair continued without too many further alarms.
Kenyan skipper Aasif Karim brought himself on to try his off-breaks, but there were the first signs that the England captain was starting to cut loose with some powerful trademark shots square of the wicket. But in the ninth over, Odoyo's brisk bowling caught Stewart on the crease and rattled his off-stump which ended his innings for a well made 23 off 26 balls. England were 45-1, but their fifty soon came up in the 11th over with both Graeme Hick and Hussain taking Karim to task, which brought new life into the frozen home crowd.
The England pair continued to take a heavy toll on the Kenyan bowlers with Hick straight driving Karim for a massive six over mid-on in the 13th over. As the Kent faithful began a chorus of 'England, England' both batsman were scoring freely, placing the ball to evade the field and running hard to pick up some quick singles and as the fielding restrictions came to an end the England total had progressed to 73-1.
As a succession of Kenyan bowlers struggled bravely to make the breakthrough, Hick indulged in his usual eloquent strokeplay and Hussain was in punishing form, plundering singles and especially severe against anything loose. As they had threatened to all day, the heavens eventually opened again, but nothing could dampen the enthusiasm of England's Barmy Army who occupied the South Bank stand and sang and cheered as the Kenyans toiled away in the increasingly damp late afternoon. As the rain came down, the umpires eventually called a halt to play at six o'clock with Hussain on 30 and Hick on 21.
After a delay of forty minutes play resumed, England raised their hundred in the first over back and both Hick and Hussain didn't seem to want to hang around in the rain and took every opportunity to score in conditions which were eminently more suitable for fishing. The slightly sodden crowd cheered every run and boundary as both batsman approached their fifties and Hussain was first to the target, thrashing Odoyo through the covers to reach 51 from 88 balls in a bright innings which included seven fours.
With the England fans chanting ``We're so good, it's unbelievable'', Hick advanced to another effortless fifty, pushing Karim to mid-on for a single and with Hussain meting out further treatment to the tiring Kenyan bowlers, England pressed their advantage home. Hussain ran a cheeky leg bye in the 39th over to finish the game and record a convincing nine wicket victory for the hosts, with Hussain finishing on a potent 88 and Hick unbeaten on 61. But Kenya certainly played their part in an entertaining but rain-affected day's cricket and their contribution in unfamiliar damp conditions should not be underestimated.
Heard at the press conference after today's England-Kenya fixture ...
Darren Gough on his landmark
``I knew I was approaching 100 ODI wickets, so it was a relief to get there. I can now concentrate on getting past Ian Botham and Phil De Freitas as England's leading one-day wicket-taker by helping us do well in this tournament.''
``It wasn't playing on my mind but it was a relief to get there, just like a batsman in the nineties nearing a hundred. It's always been my ambition to get to 200 Test wickets and 150 ODI wickets so I'm heading in the right direction.''
``I felt I bowled well with the new ball against Sri Lanka, but then I didn't come back as well as I would have liked. But today was perfect; I felt I bowled well with the new ball, then came back well later on too.''
``Kenya were going well and I was brought back to get some wickets, which I did and that was pleasing. It's why I'm in the side.''