Africa’s underdog serves notice of future glories, in this week’s Better Than Sex.
To beat a West Indies side boasting the likes of Richie Richardson, Brian Lara, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Courtney Walsh, Curtly Ambrose and Ian Bishop would be a good result. Period. It became a headline-grabbing world event when international minnows, Kenya, rolled over the giants during the 1996 World Cup.
Playing on the world stage for the first time, Kenya’s collection of part-timers proved a team to be reckoned with over the course of this and subsequent World Cups. Led by skipper and allrounder Maurice Odumbe, and possessing a world-class batting talent in the form of right-hander Steve Tikolo, the Africans managed an unimposing 166 when asked to bat. Extras, 35, top-scored with Tikolo adding 29 with the bat. In the context of Tikolo’s career, it was a modest contribution, but never more significant. The future captain went on to post match-winning innings in three subsequent World Cups.
West Indies’ 93 all out reply was their second-lowest score in ODI history at the time, and marked their first ever defeat at the hands of an associate nation. More significantly, it was Kenya’s first ever official ODI victory. Speaking after his side’s lap of honour, skipper Odumbe said, “It’s like winning the World Cup. It’s a dream come true. The West Indies are our idols, and to beat an idol is a great thing.”
The West Indies captain was less effusive with his match appraisal. The defeat prompted Richie Richardson to walk out of the post-match media conference after issuing the tersest of statements: “My congratulations to Kenya for winning a very important match. We did not play the way we should have. I am very, very disappointed. I have nothing more to add.” His team-mates, somewhat ill-advisedly, posed for photographs with the victorious Kenyans in their dressing-room.
In the days that followed, there were calls for Brian Lara to be sent home after it was alleged he had told the Kenyans that he didn’t mind losing to them as much as a white team like South Africa. Lara claimed his comments were taken out of context.
While the Caribbean media went into a feeding frenzy over their stars, the Kenyan press now had some of their own to champion.
Kenya 166 all out (Tikolo 29, Harper 3-15, Walsh 3-46) beat West Indies 93 (Chanderpaul 19, Odumbe 3-15, Rajab Ali 3-17) by 73 runs