Patil wants to quit on a high note
Sandeep Patil’s face is normally inscrutable when his wards are playing, and most of the time he has no reason to be chuffed. Kenya were not the greatest side to coach, as they were easy meat for all the teams. Even during the league phase of the World Cup, Patil sat quietly as the boys took Sri Lanka apart at Nairobi.
But on Wednesday, he couldn't hide his emotions after Kenya thrashed Zimbabwe in Bloemfontein and made the semi-finals of the World Cup.
He threw up his hands in a celebration of success and then went down to greet the men who had done the impossible.
The former all-rounder, who was part of the 1983 World Cup-winning Indian team, also thought this was the right moment to bid adieu to Kenyan cricket.
He stated on Wednesday that he would step down as Kenya coach at the end of the World Cup.
"I signed a four-year contract just after the last World Cup which ends at the conclusion of the tournament," Patil said.
"I have decided to return to India. I don't have a position to go back to but Mr Dalmiya, the Indian board president, has shown an interest," he said. However, it could not be ascertained what this "interest" entailed.
Patil would love to score a win over India here before he quits. "India are a great side. Our aim was always to reach the Super Six," he said. "But if we play good cricket anything is possible."
Patil said that all the credit for Kenya's win over Zimbabwe, their first in 15 one-day internationals against the rivals, belonged to the team and captain Steve Tikolo. "I'm delighted but all the credit belongs to the players. We had some great bowling at the start with Martin Suji and our spinners bowled well.
"Steve has led from the front. He hasn't been at his best with the bat but you can't keep a good batsman down and I'm sure a big score is just around the corner." Patil has been vocal about Kenya's merit as a Test-playing nation. "If Bangladesh can play Test cricket, so can Kenya," he had stated after the win over Sri Lanka, and now there can be few doubts about that claim.
He reiterated the claim on Wednesday, saying that he hoped the International Cricket Council (ICC) would recognise Kenya's performances when in future deliberations over Test status.
In response to this statement, 2003 World Cup Executive Director Ali Bacher expressed his appreciation for the Kenyan success.
"I am happy that they have made the semi-finals," he said on Thursday. "What makes this success more important is that they have done this with indigenous talent."
Bacher stated that ICC Development International (IDI), the parent body's arm dealing with spreading cricket, had approached the Kenyan authorities and sought their views on granting of Test status to the Kenyans.
However, the authorities in the African nation had said that they needed about two more years to set up infrastructure before Test status could be thought about.