It takes a great level of keenness to notice sweet emotions flying all over the senior national men’s cricket team camp.
And they are all coming at a time after fixtures for the ICC World Cricket League Division Three due November 6-21 in Oman were released on August 22. That very day was Cricket Cranes’ captain Roger Mukasa’s 29th birthday.
On the next day, coach Steve Tikolo celebrated his 21st marriage anniversary in an emotional post on his Facebook account. So howzat!
One underlining factor is that there is no fear or pressure ahead of this crucial showpiece for Team Uganda. The vibes in the non-residential camp are getting better ever since they won the ICC WCL Division IV title in Malaysia back in May.
“After Malaysia, we have added a few players like Ronak (Patel) and Dinesh (Nakrani) and we have continued with our normal progress,” Tikolo told Daily Monitor yesterday.
“Division III is important for us to progress to Division II and it is coming in six months which is not bad in terms of team momentum.”
But the Kenyan legend further warns; “We don’t want to get ahead of ourselves, we still need to do the basics right and we cannot be complacent.”
Like the rest of the team, Tikolo is sparing more time to think on how to tackle the humid conditions of Oman and pass the five-match puzzle at the six-nation tournament.
“The Oman conditions are no different from those of Malaysia and that is in the sense of the same sub-continent type of wickets. We did not see too many in Malaysia but Uganda is one of the few teams that averaged 200 runs.
From what we saw in the ICC World T20 Africa B Qualifier in Rwanda, Ronak and Dinesh have brought in some good morale but batting is an area that we need to work on and as well as tighten the death bowling.”
Speaking of bowling and spin-favouring wickets in the Arabian Peninsula, Tikolo interestingly has more medium pace bowlers (Charles Waiswa, Bilal Hassun, Riazat Ali, Deus Muhumuza, Jonathan Ssebanja and Nakrani) than spinners (Irfan Afridi, Henry Ssenyondo, Frank Nsubuga plus part-timers Brian Masaba and Mukasa) in the team. But he sees things differently.
“Let’s not look at one side of the pace bowlers’ game. Don’t forget that Dinesh, Deus and Riazat can get you runs,” Tikolo argued.
“As a technical bench, we will not assume anything. We shall do our ground work and hopefully be in Oman at least three days before the tournament.”
Paying back the faith
On Tuesday, Tikolo repaid the faith in teenage batsman Zephaniah Arinaitwe who has been scoring centuries for fun over the past three months.
He is into the team selected by the UCA Selection Committee that will represent Uganda at the Cricket South Africa (CSA) hosted Africa T20 Tournament due September 14-16 before taking part in three 50-over warm-up matches against Kwazulu-Natal Inland and the South Africa Academy teams set for September 17-21. But Ronak is unavailable, Jonathan Ssebanja has again been overlooked whereas Ssenyondo joins his little brother Simon Ssesaazi in the reserves of the notable selections and omissions made to the Rainbow Nation.
Then after the buffer month of October, Uganda will start its quest for Division II cricket against Denmark and USA on November 9 and 10 in Muscat but the gaffer hasn’t put much focus onto the itinerary that has three reserve days and as many off-days.
“At the end of the day, the rest days will be a benefit for all teams unlike the previous WCL tournaments where there are back-to-back games which take a toll on the players,” concluded Tikolo.
TEAM TO SOUTH AFRICA FOR T20s
Players: Brian Masaba (vice captain), Fred Achelam (wicket-keeper), Zephaniah Arinaitwe, Roger Mukasa (captain), Hamu Kayondo, Dinesh Nakrani, Muhammad Irfan, Frank Nsubuga, Charles Waiswa, Kenneth Waiswa, Deusdedit Muhumuza, Bilal Hassun, Riazat Ali Shah
Reserves: Henry Ssenyondo, Simon Ssessazi, Emmanuel Issaneez
Officials: Jackson Kavuma (Manager), Steve Tikolo (Coach), Jackson Ogwang (Assistant Coach)
POOLS - AFRICA T20 CUP
Pool A - Pietermaritzburg:
KwaZulu-Natal Inland, Easterns,
KwaZulu-Natal Coastal, Uganda and
Pool B – Oudtshoorn:
South Western Districts, Free State,
Gauteng, Northerns and Zimbabwe;
Pool C – East London:
Border, Eastern Province, Kenya,
Mpumalanga and Namibia
Pool D – Paarl:
Boland, Limpopo, Nigeria, Northern Cape
and North West.
By Innocent Ndawula & Darren Kyeyune