Dar es Salaam. Kenyan coach Steven Tikolo - who guided Uganda Cricket Cranes to the ICC World Cup three years ago - is ready for a new challenge in his highly successful managerial career.
The newly-appointed senior national cricket team coach has been asked by the Tanzania Cricket Association (TCA) to help turn around the team’s fortunes in major international competitions – a feat he achieved with Cricket Cranes.
“I am here for only one thing - and that is to propel Tanzania’s national cricket team to higher levels of success,” Tikolo said in his first press conference as team coach yesterday.
Tikolo - who has signed a two-year contract with TCA - said he was thrilled by the quality of players who are at his disposal.
He is confident that the team can perform impressively in both the 2020 Africa T20 in Nairobi, Kenya, and the 2017 ICC World Cup qualifiers.
“I am looking forward to this job. I know there are many talented players who have the potential to excel internationally,” he said.
“And that’s why I am here. I know it is not easy but I am ready for the challenge,” he added.
According to him, lack of an international exposure is one of the major factors behind Tanzania’s to qualify for the World Cup.
Tikolo, who played for Kenya at five World Cup tournaments, said apart from his own technical staff, he would also like to work closely with cricket stakeholders.
“I like to work together with the local coaches. It is sometimes good to start somewhere where you don’t know everything,” he said.
For his part, the TCA chairman, Premji Pindoria, said: “This is the start of a new era for Tanzanian cricket.” “We have given our objectives and goals to the new coach. I wish him all the best. I hope the future will be brighter,” he added.
Tikolo, who parted ways with Uganda Cricket Cranes last year, has been the face of Kenyan cricket right since the neighbouring country arrived on the international circuit during the 1996 World Cup.
He kick-started his One-Day International (ODI) career against India in Cuttack. He top-scored with a promising 83-ball 65 and at no point in his innings did Tikolo look uncomfortable.
One of the most celebrated moments in the annals of Kenyan cricket history is their victory over the West Indies in Pune in the 1996 World Cup.
Tikolo was the top-scorer with 29 runs and Kenya posted 166 – which proved to be decisive in the final analysis.
Kenya bowled out West Indies for 93 which was one of the biggest World Cup upset for the two-time World Cup winners.
His 96 off 95 balls against the eventual World Cup winners, Sri Lanka, in Kandy showed his class.
He was often a one-man army and Kenya heavily relied on his batting ability to guide them.
Tikolo was not a purist by any stretch of imagination. His batting relied on timing and power. He was equally competent against fast bowling and spin.
Whenever any opposition played Kenya, Tikolo’s wicket was prized for 15 years since he had the propensity to construct big innings.
In 1998, Kenya played a tri-series in India which also included Bangladesh. Tikolo made 77 against India in Bangalore and 65 against Bangladesh in the next game in Chennai. He also picked up two Bangladeshi wickets and earned his first man-of-the-match award in ODIs. Against India in Gwalior, Kenya shocked the hosts beating them comprehensively by 69 runs.