Johannesburg: Kenya's cricket coach Sandeep Patil on Tuesday insisted his team was ready to step into the Test arena after producing its second giant-killing feat in the World Cup. Kenya, which upset the West Indies in the 1996 edition of cricket's showpiece, stunned Sri Lanka by 53 runs at home in Nairobi on Monday to throw open the race for the Super Sixes.
Patil, a former Indian Test batsman who has coached Kenya for the last five years, said the victory indicated his team was maturing to join the big league as the 11th Test-playing nation. "I think we are getting there," Patil said ahead of Saturday's game against Bangladesh at the Wanderers here. "To tell you the truth, if Bangladesh can play Test cricket, there is no reason why we can't. I think we are as good as them, if not better. Our time will come." Bangladesh, which was granted Test status in 2000, has been clearly out of its depth in the big league and many critics have questioned its elevation. The South Asian nation has lost 16 of the 17 Tests it has played, 11 of them by an innings.
The only escape was at home when rain denied Zimbabwe certain victory. Bangladesh has also lost 27 of its last 29 One-day Internationals, bad weather again preventing a clean sweep. The International Cricket Council (ICC), which is considering Kenya's application for Test status, does not want it to go Bangladesh's way. "The experience of Bangladesh has shown that we need to be very careful before admitting teams to Test status because it is totally different game," ICC's development manager Andrew Eade told BBC Online.
"When Bangladesh was admitted, all the indicators were there that they would quickly come up to speed. But we threw them in there a little bit early and it showed there is a big difference between Test and One-day cricket." Eade said it could take Kenya up to three years to gain Test status, and Patil was willing to wait patiently. "Let them take time, we'll use it to sharpen our game. We certainly do not want to have a start like Bangladesh.
When we get there, we should be able to compete well," Patil said. Patil, who starred in India's World Cup triumph in 1983, took a swipe at England and Australia for not doing enough to help Kenya's cause. "We will improve only if we get a chance to play on different wickets in unfamiliar conditions," he said. "I am not saying England and Australia should invite us to play their best team, but we could go there and play the second string sides. We make regular tours of India, but the boys need to get a feel of conditions in Australia and England."
Patil, whose contract with Kenya will be reviewed after the World Cup, believed the country had the talent to go far in cricket. "There is natural talent in Kenya. They are born athletes and strong physically," he said. "We have improved a lot over the years. Maybe we are not in a position to beat teams like Australia consistently, but which team does that these days. "The important thing is to hold your own against the big guns. I think we are capable of that." Copyright AFP 2001