Hesson's departure a big loss - Kenyan captain

BRENDON EGAN
Last updated 05:00 11/01/2014

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Kenyan cricket captain Rakep Patel has spoken fondly of Mike Hesson's influence and says he's gutted the Kiwi was unable to stick around as coach.

Hesson coached the Kenyan national team for 10 months between 2011 and 2012. He ended his two-year contract early after his young family fell victim to an attempted car-jacking and a grenade exploded near their house in Nairobi.

Hesson returned home and was subsequently appointed New Zealand coach a few months later, replacing John Wright.

He has polarised the public since he took over the Black Caps reins, most notably with the decision to axe Ross Taylor as skipper and appoint Brendon McCullum, but Patel said he had been a positive mentor to him and the team.

"He was a very good coach. His player man-management was very good. My batting has improved from him as well. He taught me a lot of new stuff and helped a lot.

"He tried to bring changes in the team and give new youngsters a go and give them freedom."

Patel believed Kenya were beginning to make inroads before Hesson left and said it was a shame.

"It was very disappointing as players because he was a very good guy ... but family comes first."

Patel and the Kenyan side will compete in the 10-team World Cup qualifying tournament in New Zealand, beginning on Monday. The two finalists will advance on to next year's World Cup, which will be co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand.

He said they had spoken to Hesson about what sort of wickets they could expect in New Zealand and hoped conditions would suit them.

Kenya player-coach Steve Tikolo, who has featured at the previous five World Cups, never played under Hesson, but said he was held in high regard.

"What I gather from the boys, they said he was a good coach and a nice bloke. They were starting to turn the corner under Mike."

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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