It's January 2004, and cricket fans from around the world flocked to the Gymkhana Club in Nairobi to watch the newest Test nation, Kenya, take on the next newest, Bangladesh, in their very first Test match. In the recent World Cup, the Bangladeshis had crumbled to humiliating defeats against both Kenya and Canada, and they are still rebuilding.
Kenya will be led by Steve Tikolo, and his charges will include: Ravi Shah, Kennedy Otieno, Morris Ouma, Hitesh Modi, Maurice Odumbe, David Obuya, Thomas Odoyo, Collins Obuya, Martin Suji and Peter Ongondo. A reasonably strong eleven with three good seamers (Ongondo, Suji and Odoyo) backed up by Collins Obuya and the all-rounders, but much would depend on runs from the skipper and Ravi Shah.
The tourists were boasting a new look side as part of their youth policy. Led by Habibul Bashar, the side featured Javed Omar and Hannan Sarkar against the new ball, supported by Mohammad Ashraful, Rajin Saleh, Tushar Imran and Alok Kapali in the middle order. Khaled Mashud was be behind the stumps, and the bowling contingent will consist of Mushfiqur Rahman, Tapash Baisya, Mohammad Sharif, and Mohammad Rafique.
In my mind's eye, a packed Nairobi Gymkhana sees the first Test match for Kenya.
The Bangladeshis found resolve where the Kenyans did not. At five wickets down and still short of three figures, it could have been advantage Kenya but for a big partnership from Khaled Mashud and Javed Omar. Each hit centuries before Bashar made a sporting declaration just a shade past three hundred. It was a move designed to keep Kenya in the game but perhaps also swayed by the dark clouds rolling in. Before they could arrive and curtail the third day's play early, both openers were gone and Collins Obuya had been promoted to night watchman, although the term rain watchman might be more appropriate.
On the fourth morning, the somewhat toothless Bangladeshi seamers took some time to erode the hosts' batting, but eventually they did, leaving themselves a modest target to chase. Habibul Bashar and Rajin Saleh did their jobs with aplomb and consigned Kenya to their first Test loss.
I imagine that the Bangladeshi seamers might have found some rewards.
How much of that was apparent to the ICC in 2003/4? Probably none. But how much of it was avoided by not giving Test status to Kenya? All of it. I'm not exactly sure what my ramblings prove, if anything, but it was certainly the right call not to grant Kenya Test status, even if it was made for the wrong reasons. These self same problems appear not to be present in Irish cricket, which is a well-run organisation that focusses hugely on the grass roots, on the next generation. There is more to Irish cricket than short-termism. That, in my opinion, is why, to quote Faithless, "inaction is a weapon of mass destruction".