Tikolo pleased with avalanche of match winners in Cricket Cranes squad

There were a few murmurs arising from coach Steve Tikolo’s final 14-man side that will represent hosts Uganda at the ICC World Cricket League Division Three tournament from May 23-31.
Tikolo admitted the difficulty in sieving out the required numbers from a pool of 20. Of course, he had worked with nearly 40 players over the past eight months in a bid to find the perfect blend ahead of the nation’s first international engagement in 20 months.

The recent 4-0 whitewash over Kenya in the Easter Series left not only fans but also Tikolo a rather more pleased figure. “Our cricket has grown in leaps and bounds in the last eight months,” he noted.

The Kenyan legend stated the team’s greatest positive from the Series has been in strengthening the depth of the squad. “We played as a unit. It was not a one-man show,” Tikolo said while highlighting the variety of match winners against the eastern neighbours.

“Whichever player is asked to go out and do the job for the team, they put their hands. Previously, we used to depend on one or two players (Roger Mukasa and Arthur Kyobe) in the batting department. Right now, we have about six or seven players we can depend on.”

Tikolo is vindicated by the figures as Kamal Shahzad has grown to maintain a slot in the top order as backed up by his 107 runs off 114 balls in 4 innings against Kenya.

“Before we used to depend on Davis (Karashani), Frank (Nsubuga) and Charles Waiswa in the bowling department but that has changed too. There is good competition in the team so it ensures the guys will not sit on their laurels and think they have automatic slots.” Tikolo added.

Left-arm orthodox spinner Henry Ssenyondo (7/79 & 2 maidens in 23 overs) and right-arm medium pacer Jonathan Ssebanja (5/83 & 19.3 overs) got bigger dividends than the trio in four matches against Kenya.

The final selection

Team Uganda
Davis Karashani (captain), Brian Masaba (vice-captain), Arthur Kyobe, Hamu Kayondo, Roger Mukasa, Arnold Otwani, Kamal Shahzad, Frank Nsubuga, Henry Ssenyondo, Charles Waiswa, Deus Muhumuza, Jonathan Ssebanja, Irfan Sahibzada and Lawrence Ssematimba
Reserves
Naeem Bardai, Lloyd Paternott, Emmanuel Isaneez and David Wabwire

Best bastmen

East cricket series statistics
Roger Mukasa (111 off 140 in 4 innings)
Kamal Shahzad (107 off 114 in 4)
Arthur Kyobe (84 off 96 in 4)
Hamu Kayondo (74 off 129 in 4)
Emmanuel Isaneez (56 off 88 in 2)
Deus Muhumuza (53 off 64 in 2)
Derrick Bakunzi (49 off 69 in 1)

Best bowlers

East cricket series statistics
Henry Ssenyondo 
(7/79 & 2 maidens in 23 overs)
Jonathan Ssebanja 
(5/83 & 19.3 overs)
Davis Karashani 
(4/95 & 3 maidens in 29 overs)
Deus Muhumuza 
(3/27) in 7.4 overs)
David Wabwire 
(3/70 in 10 overs)
Roger Mukasa 
(2/3 & 2 maidens in 4 overs) 
Frank Nsubuga 
(2/39 & 3 maidens in 14 overs)

By DARREN ALLAN KYEYUNE

Duo fired up on day Cricket Cranes are unveiled in non-national jersey

The national team, Cricket Cranes, are so fervent about the upcoming ICC World Cricket League Division III Tournament in Uganda they cannot wait to get started.

“This is it,” vowed opening batsman Arthur Kyobe at a news conference to unveil a 14-man squad and four reserves to represent Uganda.

The briefing was held at National Council of Sports (NCS) premises at Lugogo yesterday. “It’s got to be it. For eight months we have worked with coach Tikolo (Steve), who has been there, done it all. We strongly believe we have done enough preparations to finish in the top two.”

This historic tournament will be held at Lugogo, Kyambogo and Entebbe Ovals from May 23 to 30, with Canada, Malaysia, Oman, Singapore and the USA joining Uganda for the crack at balls with bats.
Division Two perks
Finishing in the top two will guarantee Uganda more matches, contract opportunities for players, and a chance to play the main World Cup Qualifier.

“And we don’t want to just finish in the top two” emphasised 28-year-old Kyobe, “We have been there before on four occasions but we have always come back down.

“Now we want to go into Division Two and just push on further. You never know what the opportunity could do for us as a country and players.

“You saw our performances against Kenya in the Easter Series (Uganda swept Kenya 4-0). The cricket we played shows you we are much improved now.”

Jersey fiasco, missing captains
Uganda’s middle order batsman Deus Muhumuza, 27, shares Kyobe and indeed his coach Tikolo’s clear sentiments of at least making the top two.

Muhumuza, also a bowling all-rounder, says “the major target is top two but of course we would also want to take the trophy.”

Yet it was not all gloss for Uganda Cricket Association (UCA) at the press conference, organisers choosing to unveil the team in Speed Blitz Blues jerseys, an Australian brand, instead of national colours.

“For this function,” explained UCA CEO Justine Ligyalingi, “We wanted to give mileage to our partners from Australia, but for our second, we shall unveil our uniform together with our partners.”

The unveiled team also appeared without captain Davis Karashani and vice Brian Masaba. “Our captain and vice-captain could not be here today because of their work engagements,” team manager Andrew Meya expounded.

By Andrew Mwanguhya

Cricket Cranes deliver knockout blow to win Easter Series 3-0

Deus Muhumuza wrapped up the stiff chase of 186 with an upper cut shot for six over the third-man region as Uganda delivered a knockout out blow to defeat Kenya by six wickets and go 3-0 in the Easter Series at Lugogo Cricket Oval yesterday. 
There is still a game to be played by the friendly foes at Lugogo today but it will be a dead rubber with Kenya only seeking to salvage their dented pride with a consolation win.
Bowling all-rounder Muhumuza (23 off 19 balls) may have hit the winning runs but if it had been a boxing match he could as well have been an undercard fighter on the day.

The two main antagonists that took the fight to the Kenyan bowling and successfully wrestled the match from them were stylish stroke-maker Roger Mukasa and left-hander Shahzad Kamal.
Mukasa opened up early cuts (read chinks) in the Kenyan bowling arsenal with a boundary-filled 30-ball 43 and was unlucky not to reach the half-century landmark after one delivery from Kenya skipper Shem Obado Ngoche (1/46 in 5) kept low and disturbed his furniture.

But by the time Mukasa walked back to the dugout, the scoreboard was reading 74 for 3 in 9.1 overs and he had set a very good platform for his teammates to smoother along without the pressure of a steep run-rate.
Kamal, who ended unbeaten on a matching winning 75 off 55 balls, dug deep with skipper Davis Karashani (19 off 25) running hard between the wickets and picking the odd boundary in sensible fashion to avoid a twist in the tail.
And even when Karashani’s powerful cut short was caught at point by World Cup hero Collins Obuya, it was a little too late for the Kenyans as Uganda needed 58 runs to win from 62 balls – but more importantly with at least a handful of power hitters yet to bat.
“Once again the guys have showed that they can execute what they do in practice,” said Cricket Cranes coach Steve Tikolo, who is coincidentally a Kenyan legend.

“We have been practicing situations like this. But to go 3-up in the series also shows that there is maturity in the side and the team is hungry to deliver and make the combinations work.”
Kenya assistant coach Peter Ongondo was full of praise for Uganda. “Before, Uganda used to play boundary cricket. But now their batsmen are willing to bat for long spells. We have also been awed by their togetherness and teamwork. We came here to teach the Ugandans but we are also learning something,” said the former Kenya opening bowler.
Earlier before the heavens opened, Kenya was coasting along nicely on 165/4 in 36.5 overs with Irfan Karim (65* off 116), Dhiren Gondaria (50 off 42) and Obuya (37 off 48) contributing handsomely.
The rain interruption, though, could not allow them to proceed with their innings and had the match umpires ask Uganda to chase 186 in 27 overs after Duckworth and Lewis Method (D/L Method) calculations – a test they duly passed with flying colours.

By INNOCENT NDAWULA & DARREN ALLAN KYEYUNE

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Steely bowling gives Cricket Cranes 2-0 lead in Easter Series

Team Uganda needed a touch of class with the ball to defeat Kenya by 27 runs and take a 2-0 lead in the Easter Cricket Series at Lugogo Oval yesterday. 
Defending their score of 199, the Cricket Cranes bowled out Kenya with 57 balls to spare, leaving the visitors in a desperate state with two matches left to wrap up the Series. 
"We are delighted with this win," said skipper Davis Karashani. "We showed a lot of character to claw back into this game. Kyobe (Arthur) showed maturity and awareness with that catch to dismiss Collins (Obuya). 
And the slow bowling department rose to the occassion to pile on the pressure and strangle the Kenyan batting. We have to continue improving though." 
Opting to bat first, Uganda had a unique brilliant start with openers Arthur Kyobe (30 off 41) and Hamu Kayondo (30 off 63) putting on 51 runs for the first wicket in 11.3 overs. 
Then Steve Tikolo's charges folded superfast to 91-5 by the end of the 23rd over with Shem Ngoche (2/25) and Nelson Odhiambo (2/38) doing the damage. 
However, the Cranes were back in the frame when Deus Muhumuza (30 off 45) and Emmanuel Isaneez (33 off ) put up 74 runs for the sixth wicket to help Uganda set 199 in overs. 
Kenya had a shaky start to the chase, losing Kaul Karan and Gurdeep Singh for 30 runs in the opening 5.1 overs. 
Then, two half-centuries from experienced lad Collins Obuya (50 off 54) and promising U-19 graduate Dhiren Gondaria (56 off 52) who combined for an 83-run third wicket combo got Kenya within victory range. 
But all crumbled when Kyobe threw the ball in the air for 12th man Brian Masaba, in for injured Frank Nsubuga, to catch Gondaria inside the circle. 
"It was an easy score to chase but we lost cheaply," Gondaria told Daily Monitor in a post-match interview. "I played a silly shot which cost us the match," the 22-year-old said.
Then skipper Davis Karashani (3/30) turned on the mojo to unscrew the wheels off the Kenyan ship, putting a cusp to Kenya losing seven wickets in a fast and furios mode when they needed 87 runs to win off 173 deliveries.
"My teammates did not apply themselves," Obuya noted. "We need to do better in the remaining two matches."
Notwithstanding dropped catches, Karashani rotated his bowlers and Roger Mukasa (2/3), who relinquished the wicketkeeping gloves to swing the match into his country's favour with two maiden overs including a wicket-maiden in his match-winning four-over spell.


EASTER CRICKET SERIES
GAME THREE RESULT
Uganda 199/10 Kenya 172/10 
(Uganda won by 27 runs)

By INNOCENT NDAWULA & DARREN ALLAN KYEYUNE

Kenya itching to renew rivalry with old enemy Cricket Cranes

Thomas Odoyo, Kenya’s coach, says it will be ‘business as usual’ when he leads his star-studded side in a five-match Limited Overs Easter Series against the Cricket ‘Cranes starting tomorrow.

The Kenya Simbas jet into the country aboard RwandAir this evening and Odoyo says his men will be bustling when the sun comes out for their series opener against the hosts at Kyambogo Oval on Good Friday.

“We have answered our brothers’ call,” said Odoyo, in a telephone interview with this paper after his team’s workout at Ruaraka Oval in Nairobi. “Uganda have an important tournament coming up next month and they wanted a strong team that will give them good preparation.

“Everyone is in and they should expect a good contest. For us, it is going to be business as usual.”

Uganda CEO Justine Ligyalingi wrote to Cricket Kenya (CK) requesting them to retain the squad that played against Nepal in the ICC World Cricket League Championship matches last month. And CK have duly obliged with an aim of helping their ‘younger brother’ Uganda get ample preparation ahead of the ICC World Cricket League Division Three tournament which the latter will host next month (May 23-31).

The last time Kenya played Uganda in September, Uganda carried the day with a two-wicket win at the Nairobi Jaffrey’s Academy Oval in the same format (50 overs) that will be played over the entire series. The Cricket Cranes opposition for the two slots at stake, to earn promotion to the coveted Division II, include United States of America, Oman, Singapore, Canada and Malaysia.

Uganda have been quietly under-going non-residential training under the tutelage of Kenyan tactician Steve Tikolo at Lugogo and Kyambogo Oval, and will be itching to show their ‘old enemy and big brother’ that they are a much improved outfit from their last meeting.

TEAM KENYA
Nelson Odhiambo, Dhiren Gondaria, Pushpak Kerai (Kanbis), Shem Obado, Collins Obuya (Stray Lions), Nehemiah Odhiambo, Elijah Otieno, Alex Obanda (Swamibapa), Karan Kaul, Lucas Oluoch, RushabhVadrhan Patel (Nairobi Gymkhana), Gurdeep Singh (Nairobi Sikh Union) Eugene Ochieng (Kongonis) and Irfan Karim (unattached).

Coach: Thomas Odoyo Assistant Coach: Peter Ongondo Physio: Moses Ndungu Batting Coach: Maurice Odumbe

EASTER SERIES ITINERARY 
LIMITED OVERS (50) CONTESTS
Today: Kenya arrives
April 14: Match vs Kenya
April 15: Practice/Rest day
April 16: Match vs Kenya
April 17: Match vs Kenya
April 18: Practice/Rest day
April 19: Match vs Kenya
April 20: Match vs Kenya
April 21: Kenya departs

By INNOCENT NDAUWLA & DARREN ALLAN KYEYUNE

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More tours for Cricket Cranes before WCL

The visiting Takashinga franchise from Zimbabwe came and took the inaugural Uganda Quadrangular Series trophy at the expense of their fellow rivals from Uganda and Kenya.

But despite the absence of a podium moment for either of the Ugandan teams, there were more than a handful of positives to pick from the eight-day tournament that saw every team play each other twice in the round-robin like league format.

Aside Ugandan fans getting a taste of international cricket for the first time in more than four years, a hatful of previously ignored players grabbed the opportunity with both hands and reminded the selectors what they are capable of.

Left-hander batsman Shahzad Kamal, all-rounder Daniel Ruyange and lively bowler Trevor Bukenya showed that they were not out of place at the big stage whereas youngsters Derrick Bakunzi, Arnold Otwani, Siraje Nsubuga and Lawrence Ssempijja continued to make hay after some naysayers had previously written them off.

The old guns nicknamed generals after they returned from self-imposed retirements led by skipper Davis Karashani showed that they are fully back, experience translates into class and belong to the big time.

Opening bowlers Charles Waiswa and Emmanuel Isaneez were a fresh breath of air to their respective teams whereas wicketkeeper Lawrence Ssematimba and Frank Nsubuga showed they still have some fire in their belly with steely displays.

“This tour has been all the worth it,” said Uganda Cricket Association (UCA) CEO Justine Ligyalingi. “Thirty of our players have got game time against opposition of international quality. And one of our sides came within a whisker of winning the trophy. We are grateful to Kenya and Takashinga. We now want to make this series a permanent fixture.”

Ligyalingi added that the UCA is keeping in line with Project 2017. “We are going to offer two more tours to the team, one at home and another away, to continue preparing them for the International Cricket Council Division III World Cricket League that we shall host in May.”

Cricket Cranes coach Steve Tikolo, too, underscored the importance of the players to keep their feet grounded and urged UCA Board to continue selflessly supporting the team’s progress.

“We cannot rest on our laurels,” said the 45-year-old Kenyan legend. “The hard work must continue. Whoever puts up his hand and delivers will be picked. There is no landlord on the team. Our goal is 2017 and shall leave no stone unturned in preparation.”

UPCOMING TOURNAMENT
Name: Division III ICC WCL
When: May 2017
Where: Uganda
Venues: Lugogo, Kyambogo & Entebbe
Teams: Six (USA, Canada, Oman, Malaysia, Singapore, Uganda)
Benefit: Top two teams progress to ICC WCL Division II

By INNOCENT NDAWULA

Tikolo leaves door open for Cricket Cranes hopefuls

Coach Steve Tikolo issued a ‘come convince me’ statement to the national team hopefuls when he named the two sides (Uganda XI and Uganda Select) that will represent the country in the Quadrangular Series that bowl off this weekend.

Uganda is preparing for the International Cricket Council (ICC) Division III World Cricket League (WCL) that will be hosted here and Tikolo showed his desire to ensure every impressive player gets a chance to stake his claim during the build-up series that will be hosted at Lugogo and Kyambogo Oval.

The released squads to be captain by Davis Karashani (Uganda XI) and Brian Masaba (Uganda Select) boast of some exciting talent that had previously not been considered in the provisional 31-man squad.

The notables includes include Challengers all-rounder Daniel Ruyange, Damani’s left-hander Shahzad Kamal, lively paceman Trevor Bukenya, Nile wicket-keeper Ashraf Ssenkubuge plus Charity siblings Simon Ssesaazi and Lawrence Ssempijja.

“This is a clear indicator that I have not closed the door on anyone,” said Tikolo after yesterday’s morning training session in the middle at Lugogo.
“I have been monitoring these players’ performances in the domestic competitions.

And whoever shows that they can deliver, will get his chance. I am looking at the big one – Project 2017.” But there were also some omissions from the squads including contracted Emmanuel Taban and Charity’s Singh brothers Varinder and Narinder.
“Taban has not performed to the standards I expected him as a left-hander and there are also other discipline issues involved.

For Varinder, he has not made himself available as he says he has a back problem whereas Narinder has not been convincing in his role as a batsman. But they must continue to work and improve,” added the 45-year-old Kenyan legend.

Takashinga’s contingent will be captained by international Forseter Mutizwa whereas bowling all-rounder Emmanuel Bundi will lead the Kenya side in the 10-day tournament.

TEAM NEWS
Uganda XI
Davis Karashani (captain), Arthur Kyobe, Hamu Kayondo, Zephaniah Arinaitwe, Roger Mukasa, Shahzad Kamal, Lawrence Ssematimba, Deus Muhumuza, Frank Nsubuga, Charles Waiswa, Jonathan Ssebanja, Henry Ssenyondo, Ashraf Ssenkubuge, Lawrence Ssempijja, Emmanuel Hasahya Officials: Steve Tikolo (coach), Jackson Ogwang (assistant), Andrew Meya (manager).

Uganda Select
Brian Masaba (captain), Arnold Otwani, Abdallah Lubega, Aneef Shah, Ivan Thawithemwira, Daniel Ruyange, Derrick Bakunzi, Irfan Afridi, Fred Achellam, Emmanuel Isaneez, Abraham Oduch, Siraje Nsubuga, Simon Ssesaazi, Trevor Bukenya Officials: Michael Ndiko (coach), Emmanuel Isaneez (assistant), Alvin Bagaya (manager)

Takasahinga XI (Zimbabwe)
Natsai M’Shanwe, Forster Mutizwa, Tinashe Kanhukamwe, Roy Kaia, Tapiwa Mufudza, Charles Kunje, Richard Ngarava, Blessing Muzarabani, Tendai Maruma, Innocent Kaia, Wellington Masakadza, Westone Masakadza, Tafadzwa Kamungozi, Tymcen Maruma Officials: Eric Chauluka, Tafadzwa Madoro, Emmanuel Dube, Percival Sizara

Kenya XI
Emmanuel Bundi (captain), Pushpak Keri, Kavi Dosaja, Karan Patel, Peterson Kamau, Martin Mworia, Joseph Owino, Abraham Vadada, Adarsh Sawjani, Thomas K’Ochieng, Raul Seedhar, Aveet Desai, Aman Gandhi, Subham Patel Officials: Jimmy Kamande (coach), David Asiji (manager)

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