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The Rediff Cricket Interview / Steve Tikolo
Tikolo still cherishes six off Walsh
March 18, 2007
It's a pity that despite being enormously talented, Steve Tikolo isn't in a position to play Test cricket. No, not yet! The only reason is because he represents a minnow nation like Kenya, which has been granted only One-Day International status by the ICC. And since he is a part of the Kenyan team, he gets only limited opportunities to prove his worth even in the shorter version of the game.
One is convinced that Kenya's captain would have been playing regularly in the heavyweight division of cricket today had he been born in some Test-playing nation. Nevertheless, Tikolo has made the pundits of the game the world over sit up and take notice of his genius with the willow, which he wields just about as majestically as any star batsman in contemporary cricket.
The affable, unassuming Tikolo, who scored a solid 72 off 77 deliveries in Kenya's opening match of the ongoing World Cup against Canada, has accepted his fate, and emphasises that just playing for his country gives him immense pride. Excerpts from a candid conversation Haresh Pandya had with him some time back:
How has it been playing One-Day International cricket?
I feel it's good to play at the international level. I hope Kenya will get Test status soon. In cricket, you always learn something and we, too, are still learning a lot.
How do you assess your career so far?
Well, I'm pretty happy and satisfied with my overall performance. No complaints. I've, however, a feeling that I haven't done enough justice to my potential because of want of opportunities. I wish I had played many more ODIs than I have in my career.
Not getting sufficient opportunities must be frustrating for you, isn't it?
Not really. There is nothing we can do about it. The best thing is to accept the realities. We have to grab it whenever the opportunity arises.
How does it feel when experts rate you very high and even tend to place you alongside some master batsmen?
Well, I think it's a plus to me, because they appreciate what I've been doing on the field.
To what would you ascribe your success and reputation as a batsman?
I reckon it's my eye and reflexes that help me dominate on the field. I love to go for my shots; I especially enjoy playing them through the covers.
It isn't just the colour of your skin but also the way you bat that makes many compare you with West Indian cricketers. Have you ever noticed this fact?
Yes. In fact most of my heroes are West Indian cricketers. I admire Vivian Richards in particular a lot. I like Brian Lara, too. I've also held Steve Waugh in the highest possible regard.
Do you plan your innings before going out in the middle?
I think planning is also involved because I try and focus on the game well. I bat either one drop or two down. When the openers start the innings, I just try and watch the bowlers, how they're bowling, how is the field placing, and so on. By the time I get to the middle I've at least a fair idea of what the opposition is doing.
Does failure upset you?
It does, but I don't carry it with me. I try to forget it as soon as possible and think about the next day, the next game. But, yes, nobody can be happy with failure.
Could you single out one particular innings you played which gave you much satisfaction as a batsman?
Yes, the 96 I scored against eventual champions Sri Lanka in the 1996 World Cup in the subcontinent. It was the most memorable and satisfactory innings of my career.
How was the experience playing provincial cricket in South Africa?
I've played for Border and also played in the Transvaal league. It was a good experience because I got to learn more. In South Africa, they play cricket the hard way. It doesn't give you space to relax on your concentration.
What's your most memorable World Cup moment?
It has to be our upset win over the West Indies at Pune in the 1996 edition. Nobody had given us any chance and we humbled the mighty West Indies.
Did you or your team-mates expect such a sensational victory against all odds?
I don't think anyone of us expected such an upset win over the West Indians. When we came to participate in the tournament nobody knew about us, really. The boys just spoke about going out in the middle and enjoying the game. But we didn't really expect to beat the West Indies.
Which moments of that win in Pune do you still cherish?
When I hit Courtney Walsh for a six over mid-wicket; also the all-important wicket of Brian Lara.
In what way did that particular triumph prove beneficial to Kenya in general?
It did in the sense that a lot of people came to know about cricket in our country. When people follow the game, you start having more players playing the game. It also helped develop cricket in Kenya.
When do you expect Kenya to get the Test status?
It's a tough question. But it shouldn't be too long before we gain the Test status.
Would Kenya be able to field a capable side in Test cricket?
At the moment we've many youngsters coming through. There is no shortage of talent in Kenya. And there is no reason why we shouldn't be in a position to field a good Test side.
What's your advice to the budding Kenyan cricketers?
They must always be disciplined and try and stick to the job at hand.
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