Kolkata: Steve Tikolo has seen the highs and lows of Kenyan cricket in the last 15 years. Sadly for him, his last international match was forgettable.
Tikolo, lured back from an earlier retirement for this World Cup, was unable to change the team's fortunes even in the last match against Zimbabwe after destiny willed that he lead the team.
The 39-year-old all-rounder had to stand in for injured captain Jimmy Kamande but it wasn't a fairy tale finish, with Kenya losing by 161 runs to stay in last place in Group A.
Tikolo said Kenya could not make progress after 2003 because of a dearth of matches.
But Tikolo can take pride in the much better times of his peak, when Kenya reached the semifinals of the 2003 World Cup.
Tikolo, who finished with 3,421 runs and 94 wickets in 134 limited-overs internationals, said Kenya was more competitive when it more exposure to international matches.
"In 2003, we had a team that had been together since 1996. We gelled well as players, knew each other's strengths and weaknesses. We had been playing good cricket all along then and had fought well against top teams," said Tikolo, who was among the top performers for Kenya during the World Cup qualifiers in 1995.
Kenya produced a shocking win over West Indies in the 1996 World Cup and also won a few other international matches of not, including against India, in subsequent years.
Tikolo said Kenya could not make progress after 2003 because of a dearth of matches despite what should have been a growing status in the international arena.
"We've hardly been playing. The last we played Pakistan before this World Cup was in 2004; Australia in 2003," he said about two top teams that Kenya went down tamely to in Group A.
"Even against Zimbabwe we have not played much. We played them in 2010, but before that it was only in 2006, so we really lacked chances. When you meet test playing nations in big tournaments, it does not do any good to your confidence," he said.
Tikolo said he was unhappy after the team failed to raise its game against Zimbabwe after five consecutive losses in the league stage, including to Canada.
"We are disappointed because we wanted to put up a good performance. But some players made their debuts in this World Cup so it was difficult to expect much this time," he said.
Tikolo, who is looking at coaching as a career option in the coming years, said the domestic structure in Kenya needed to be improved.
"Back at home, we need to revamp the local structure. Youngsters need to play three-day and four-day cricket. I would definitely like to give back to the game in whatever way I can," he said.
Retirement, he decided, was for practical reasons.
"I am 39, can't go on forever," he said. "There are no emotions as such, one just has to get on with life and give others a chance."