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Kenya deserve Test status: Tikolo

Steve Tikolo renewed calls for Kenya to be granted Test status on Saturday as thousands of fans welcomed his team back.

india Updated: Mar 22, 2003 22:02 IST

Captain Steve Tikolo renewed calls for Kenya to be granted test status on Saturday as thousands of fans welcomed his team back from the World Cup on Saturday.

"Barring certain things that must be put in place first, now is the time for Kenya to be awarded test status," Tikolo told Reuters.

"Of course we don't have a large player base to sustain test status. The sport must be spread all over the country and we must also play a more longer version of the sport to attract more sponsors.

"However, we have proved through our performance that we deserve test status. Now it is for the administration to do their part."

Traditional dancers, acrobats and beauty queens were among supporters who packed Jomo Kenyatta International Airport and lined the streets to cheer the team.

Kenya, knocked out of the semi-finals by India on Thursday, were the first non-test nation to get beyond the first stage of a World Cup. The team, greeted by Minister for Sport Najib Balala, are due to meet President Kibaki on Monday.

Kenya beat test nations Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe as well as Canada.

They were helped in progressing, however, by New Zealand's decision to forfeit their match in Nairobi on security grounds.

Kenya, with many players over 30, reached the latter stages ahead of West Indies, despite losing to them by 142 runs, and South Africa, who beat Kenya by 10 wickets.

The International Cricket Council, the sport's governing body, has been meeting in Johannesburg on Friday and Saturday. Kenya's claim to test status has been discussed. Any decision would be based on adequate facilities and domestic leagues as well as the national team's results.

Bangladesh became the 10th nation to join that elite in 2000 but have not won a test since, as well as not winning a one-day international for four years.

The team were driven to the Kenya Cricket Association headquarters through Nairobi's streets.

"Kenya did not win the World Cup but we certainly won many hearts all over the world. Steve (Tikolo) and the boys united the whole country," said Balala.

"We shall make cricket a bigger national agenda and we must move the sport to the countryside. We want to develop cricket from grassroots and we want to see a competitive league system in the country."

Tikolo said a few of his players had been approached by South African clubs.

Leg spinner Collins Obuya, who took five wickets against Sri Lanka, confirmed he would be returning to South Africa to complete negotiations with a club.

First Published: Mar 22, 2003 22:02 IST