David Obuya, born August 14, 1979, was a wicketkeeper and top-order batsman for Kenya. He hailed from a family of cricketers and was part of the highs and lows of Kenyan cricket. Shrikant Shankar looks back at his career.
Kenyan cricket is synonymous with certain names — Tikolos, Odoyos, Odumbes, Sujis, Otienos and Obuyas. The last on the list includes multiple cricketers. Collins Obuya is the more famous name. The other is David Obuya. David is almost two years elder to his brother Collins. David was born in Nairobi, Kenya. Along with Collins, he grew up with Kennedy Otieno, who was the oldest in the family of cricketers.
For a long time, David had to wait patiently in the wings as Kennedy was the first choice in the wicket-keeping department for the Kenyan national cricket team. He made his debut on August 15, 2001, against West Indies in the first One-Day International (ODI) of a three-match series in Nairobi. Brother Collins also made his debut in the same match. He got his chance as the wicketkeeper as Kennedy missed the series altogether. Later on Kennedy decided to play club cricket in Australia which made David an automatic first-choice wicketkeeper. While it was a forgettable debut for David (scoring seven of 28 balls), it was rather enjoyable for the West Indies fans. Chris Gayle smashed a 150-ball 152 as the team from the Caribbean won by 106 runs. After scoring 11 runs as an opener in the second ODI, which Kenya lost by six wickets, David made a good contribution of 34 runs with the bat in the third ODI. He also got his first two scalps behind the wicket in the third ODI. First Gayle was caught of the bowling of Steve Tikolo and then Marlon Samuels was stumped of the bowling of Jimmy Kamande. His efforts went in vain as West Indies won the match by seven wickets.
David was then selected in the Kenyan team for a tri-series in South Africa involving India as well. He scored an important 26 and was involved in two India wickets as Kenya shocked India in a group match, winning by 70 runs. He enjoyed a good run with the team for the next two years. In the 2003 World Cup, Kenya surprised many by first beating Sri Lanka by 53 runs thanks mainly to Collins’ heroics with the ball. David, however, did not play in the match. Kenya reached the semi-finals of that World Cup which they lost to the eventual runner-ups India. This was definitely Kenya’s greatest moment in international cricket.
He finally got his first half-century in a quadrangular ODI series against Zimbabwe. His 57, though, came in a losing cause as their African counterparts won the match by five wickets. This was followed by a very lean patch in David’s career. He was dropped after that series and did not make the team till three years later. When he was recalled in 2006, David performed relatively better with the bat and ensured a good run with the team. He then scored his second half-century (73) in ODIs against Scotland. Kenya won the match by 190 runs. That was followed by a rich vein of form showed by David. He then notched up his third half-century (74 not out) against Bermuda. Scores of 37, 34, 30, followed. David then recorded his highest ODI score till date, again against Scotland. His 93 helped Kenya beat Scotland by eight wickets in the final of the ICC World Cricket League Division One tournament.
The 2007 World Cup was a quiet period for David. Kenya failed to impress and were knocked out in the group stages. He failed to find form till 2009. He got starts during the tour of Zimbabwe in October 2009. Scores of 49, 56, 49 and 27 were the high points in a rather poor series for Kenya. They lost 4-1 in the five-match ODI series. In 2010, he played in a handful of matches for Kenya.
David played in the ICC Intercontinental Cup in 2010. This was a First-Class tournament. In a gruelling match against the Netherlands, David shone with brother Collins. David scored 115 in Kenya’s first innings and added 203 runs with Collins for the second wicket. Kenya posted a total of 433 in response to the Netherlands’ 385. Then the Europeans scored 367 for six in their second innings, setting a target of 320 for the Africans to chase. David scored an important 58 as Kenya won the match by five wickets. In total, David scored two First-Class centuries and six half-centuries.
Later that year, Kenyan cricket was involved in controversy relating to a tour to the Netherlands for the ICC World Cricket League Division One tournament in July 2010. Contract related issues resulted in many key Kenyan players threatening to boycott the tournament and the short tour of England before that. David missed the tournament through injury.
He was selected in the Kenyan squad for the 2011 World Cup in the sub-continent. His first match was against co-hosts Sri Lanka in Colombo. He scored a timid 51 off 106 balls, scoring three fours. He shared a 94-run partnership with brother Collins, who scored 52. Once the partnership was broken, Kenya could not handle the might of the Sri Lankans. This was the match that saw Lasith Malinga take his second World Cup hat-trick. Sri Lanka won the match won the match by nine wickets. That innings and partnership also saw David break a few records. David and Collins’ partnership was the fourth-highest for Kenya for the third wicket in World Cup matches. David’s strike-rate of 48.11 is the third-lowest in an innings above 50 and below 100.
The rest of the World Cup yielded only 14 runs in total for David. He only played another three ODIs for Kenya after that as his last match was against Ireland in Mombasa on February 20, 2012. Ireland won the match by 117 runs. In total David played 74 ODIs for Kenya scoring 1,355 runs at an average of 19.35. He scored six half-centuries with a highest of 93.
In Twenty20 Internationals, David played 10 times for his country scoring two half-centuries. In his career he saw Kenya achieve their greatest highs. A short while after that their status was reduced from an international side to an Associate member of the International Cricket Council. That was their deepest low.
(Shrikant Shankar previously worked with Mobile ESPN, where he did audio commentary for many matches involving India, Indian Premier League and Champions League Twenty20. He has also written many articles involving other sports for ESPNSTAR.com. You can follow him on Twitter @Shrikant_23)