For a country that rose to such dizzying heights, the decade since has been meteorically disappointing. While the 2007 World Cup campaign was given an air of respectability thanks to a trampling of a distinctly Jurassic Canadian team, the 2011 tournament could hold no such positives. A clean sweep of defeats to the full members was backed up with a defeat to a Canadian team that didn't once use the same opening partnership for consecutive matches, such was their disarray. This led to the sacking of most of the old guard, not least Jimmy Kamande, whose persona at press conferences (slouched back and grinning) was a shocking reflection on the team ethic, not least from the man who was meant to be leading them.
This clear-out gave plenty of young players the chance to show what they were worth, but the only one to have really stood up to be counted thus far is Irfan Karim, son of Aasif, who recently hit his maiden ODI century. As a team, though, Kenya are plumbing new depths. Two recent victories over Canada have kept the Kenyans in touch with Scotland and Afghanistan in the mid-table of the WCL Championship, and a win over the same opposition in the Intercontinental Cup has had the same effect. However, the World Twenty20 qualifiers were frightening for Cricket Kenya. The former World Cup semi-finalists finished ninth in the tournament, behind both Nepal and Papua New Guinea, teams that ten years ago they wouldn't have been pitting their A-team against, let alone losing to.
When they lost Steve Tikolo, Kenya seemed to lose an entire era of success.
Collins Obuya sits amidst a very competent batting unit for Kenya. Alex Obanda and Tanmay Mishra are both capable of scoring runs, while the aggressive Rakep Patel is slowly coming of age. The skipper, Obuya, has been his team's best batsman of late, and he is capable of batting the overs should it be necessary. With Irfan Karim having already shown his worth, Duncan Allan showing plenty of promise, and Ragheb Aga back from England, while it may not be raining runs, they ought at least to come from somewhere.
There is a distinct lack of penetrating seam bowlers for Kenya at the moment. Where Rajab Ali and more recently Peter Ongondo were able to produce quality deliveries, the new crop of Nehemiah Odhiambho, Nelson Odhiambho and Elijah Otieno are somewhat less incisive. Indeed, much of the bowling depends on the finger-spin of Hiren Varaiya and the two Ngoches: James and Shem. What Kenya need is either a genuine paceman or an accurate, consistent seamer.
Kenya's biggest weakness is that nobody falls into this category. Collins Obuya is the most resilient batsman, but an average of 26 with no ODI centuries is hardly world-beating stuff . This is the category that used to have a small plethora of names to fill it, and picking just one of Tikolo, Shah, Odumbe, Karim and Odoyo would be the challenge. One little bit of star quality could spark a much needed revival of Kenyan cricket.
This is the scariest area of all for Kenya. While the national team was living it up in the glory days in 2003, little thought was given to where the next lot of glory days would come from. Now, cricket grounds are falling apart, and the grass on them can be as long as six inches or more. There is little club cricket, and participation is plummeting. Hopefully, the East Africa competitions will be able to breathe a new lease of life into these crumbling venues, and get cricket in the public eye again.
Apart from the lack of a cricketing pyramid, the corruption, the lack of star quality, the internal disputes and the transient officials, the biggest threat facing Kenyan cricket is that Twenty20 isn't really their game. The 2012 Twenty20 Qualifier showed that while their batsmen are competent, they are not particularly explosive. As the ICC looks to shut the world out of everything but that format, Kenya will need to sharpen up that side of their game if they are to keep from falling still further off the radar.
With a team that is geared towards longer formats playing in an environment geared towards the shorter ones, Kenya are going to find the going to be increasingly tough. Next week, I'll look at a team that has looked to county cricket for its next lot of talent: Scotland. Until then, have a good week.