The Kenya Under-19 cricket team’s tour of Zimbabwe from August 2 to 8 was an eye opener for the boys on the kind of competition to expect in next year’s World Cup in New Zealand that will run from January 13 to February 3.
The team’s coach, Jimmy Kamande, on Saturday said the standard of their Zimbabwean hosts was higher than that of his squad. He said that they played four matches at Kwekwe Township, a three-hour drive from the capital Harare, where they lost all their matches.
“The boys now know the kind of competition to expect in New Zealand and, for that reason, they have, therefore, put extra effort in training,” said Kamande.
In New Zealand, the boys have been drawn against tough sides from Test-playing nations. They are set to play Canada in a warm-up game on January 9 and then face India two days later for the other two.
In the tournament proper, Kenya meet South Africa on January 14 and New Zealand three days later. They will complete their preliminary matches against defending champions West Indies on January 20.
Kamande projected that Kenya will be voted the best associate member of ICC in the World Cup.
The country will be making their second appearance in the prestigious tournament in 15 years. In the 2002 U-19 World Cup in Australia, Kenya got automatic qualification to the World Cup by virtue of the its One-Day international status.
Kenya qualified for the age-group event at the ICC Africa U-19 World Cup qualifiers in Nairobi in July that brought together four teams. During the qualifies, Uganda, Ghana, Botswana and hosts Kenya fought for the sole slot reserved for the continent in New Zealand.
Kenya caused a major upset in when they beat pre-match favourites Uganda in their last game at Nairobi Gymkhana to qualify for the World Cup for their superior net run rate after tying on points, 10 apiece.