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Tikolo: We need quality exposure

Colombo: Kenya need more exposure to top-class cricket to develop into the next Test-playing nation, captain Steve Tikolo said Wednesday.

The Africans gave the West Indies a tough examination before losing by 29 runs in pool three of the Champions Trophy Tuesday.

If they fail to beat South Africa in their next match on Friday, Kenya will be knocked out of the tournament. They have just a handful of matches against top-class opposition before next year’s World Cup.

Tikolo says that is not enough cricket to allow his players to advance their case to become the 11th Test nation, a status he is convinced they deserve. “We’ve improved quite a lot but the only hindrance is we don’t get to play more often,” he said.

“From here we go to India to play state teams, then from India we go to Nairobi to play Namibia in one-dayers. After that we go to Zimbabwe for five one-dayers ahead of the World Cup.

“When you play a lot of games you improve, but I mean a lot of games at the highest level. If we play at the highest level I think our team will improve.”

Tikolo performed superbly with the bat on Tuesday, making 93 from 91 balls to lead the pursuit of the West Indies’ 261 for six.

The captain lacked support, with no other player reaching 50, but remains convinced he and his players have what it takes to step up to full international status.

“Personally I feel Test status is not far away from us, from a player’s point of view,” said Tikolo.

“I know we have players of ability who can play at the highest level, but it is in the ICC’s hands.”

One area Kenya will have to improve on in order to compete against senior international sides is fielding.

Their display in the field against West Indies was woeful, with Brian Lara being dropped three times on his way to 111. Shivnarine Chanderpaul was dropped twice and there were numerous misfields and overthrows.

“Those chances should have been taken, I don’t see why you should put down those at this level,” added Tikolo.

“It’s probably down to the different conditions, but it is back to the drawing board to work on our fielding. We’ll try our best and see how it goes.”

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