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Jimmy Kamande: Kenyan medium pacer turned off-spinner

Jimmy Kamande © Getty Images
Jimmy Kamande © Getty Images

Jimmy Kamande, born on December 12, 1978, was a medium-pacer who later became an off-spinner for Kenya. Not only that, but he was fairly useful with the bat as well. Nishad Pai Vaidya reviews Kamande’s career.


Kenyan cricket was on the ascent in the early 2000s. With good players such as Steve Tikolo, Kennedy Otieno, Ravindu Shah and Maurice Odumbe to name a few, they promised to become a new force and were a budding side. The 2003 World Cup was their pinnacle of success, but all went downhill from there on. One often wonders what might have been had they maintained their internal structures and were administered well.


In the process, many players lost out on the chance to carve out successful international careers. One of them was James Kabatha Kamande, or Jimmy. Kamande was born on December 12, 1978 in Muranga, Kenya. He was picked for the Kenyan side for the under-19 World Cup in South Africa in 1998. It is interesting to note that he was initially a medium-pacer. In four matches in the tournament, he picked up three wickets.  By 1999, he was a part of the senior Kenya side.


Kamande made his One-Day International (ODI) debut during the 1999 World Cup in England. His first game was against Zimbabwe, and he bowled nine overs and went wicket-less for 38 runs. His next game was against Sri Lanka, when he picked up his maiden international wicket; that of Upul Chandana.


Initially, Kamande was at the centre of the storm as his bowling action came under scrutiny. From 1999 to 2006, he only appeared in a handful of ODIs for Kenya. Thus, he missed a major part of their quick ascent, and was sadly a part of an era that saw their downfall. He only played 16 ODIs spread over the seven-year period and didn’t do much of note in that interval.


However, Kamande battled the hurdles and was determined to make a mark as a cricketer for his country. He changed his style to off-spin and this time there were no questions about his bowling action. Also, he was quite useful with the bat as well. As Kenya planned for the 2007 World Cup, he became a crucial part of their setup.


In 2006, as Kenya played a few series against the other Associate nations, Kamande was promoted to No 3 during a series against Canada. In the first game, he scored a stable 68 that laid the foundation of a 108-run victory. Thereafter, he didn’t bowl as much as one would have expected and there were only a few highlights here and there. Against Ireland in 2008, he delivered a spell of three for 32. His best score with the bat came against Zimbabwe in 2009, when he scored a fighting 74 off 86 balls, but could not help his side win. Another crucial innings was a knock of 58 lower down the order against Netherlands during the World Cup Qualifiers in South Africa, in 2011.


In October 2010, Maurice Ouma resigned as captain and Kamande was given the reins of leadership. Ouma had called it a day as Kenya were beaten comprehensively by Afghanistan during an Intercontinental Cup game. It was a very challenging task as Kenyan cricket was only going downhill, as internal problems were like a banana skin. They kept slipping time and again. Thus, when Kamande led the Kenyan side to the 2011 World Cup in the sub-continent, little was expected of them.


To say that Kenya’s form was poor is an understatement. They lost all the games comprehensively and were outclassed by all the oppositions. Kamande’s own form was dodgy. He scored only 27 runs in the five games he played, and picked up only three wickets. Two of those wickets came during the game against Australia. His spell of two for 46 was a good performance considering the fact that Kenya conceded 324. He did not play the last game against Zimbabwe, and Steve Tikolo captained in his place.


The 2011 World Cup drew curtains on Kamande’s international career as he hasn’t played since. He has continued to play in the Kenyan circuit, but hasn’t donned the greens for his nation. However, one can never say what may happen in Kenya. After all, they recently recalled Tikolo to rescue them. The 42-year-old untiring servant of Kenyan cricket returned to the international scene. There still is hope for Kamande.


(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and anchor for the site’s YouTube Channel. His Twitter handle is @nishad_44)

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