- Published in International Competitions
Uganda cricket has consistently taken the stick since the nation suffered shock relegation to the ICC World Cricket League Division Three last month.
The interest for the gentleman’s game is not as huge as it was before May 23 on and off the oval.
And the tiring mental constructs will take a while to fade away, more evidenced by low batting totals in recent Jazz Safari National League ties.
The current senior men’s team generation has hinged on the class that partook at the 2004 and 2006 ICC U-19 World Cup tourneys.
The inevitable feeling is to have new blood take up the spots.
The nation has a chance to forget the misery should the current U-19 side beat the odds and qualify for next year’s ICC Youth 50-Over World Cup in New Zealand.
Unlike before, the Baby Cricket Cranes must finish top ahead of Kenya, Botswana and Ghana at the regional qualifier in Nairobi.
“This team bats deep and that should do the jugular for us,” team’s coach Francis Otieno told Daily Monitor following a series of training sessions at Lugogo.
Squad cut in size
Otieno and assistant Jackson Ogwang trimmed their squad from 25 to 14 while dropping familiar names like Joseph Byaruhanga, John Gabula, Ronald Kinene, Juma Miyagi and Collins Okwalinga.
Aziz Damani’s Kenneth Waiswa, who was dropped for the ICC WCL, is skipper and knows what’s at stake. “If we qualify for the World Cup, we can change the face of Ugandan cricket like it happened in 2006,” said the promising medium pacer.
Waiswa will be deputized by Zephania Arinaitwe and the pair has two trial matches against their seniors tomorrow and on Saturday at Lugogo Oval. “Giving Arinaitwe means he must play with responsibility.” Otieno reasoned.
By DARREN ALLAN KYEYUNE & INNOCENT NDAWULA
Patrick Ochan and Abram Mutyagaba have been recalled to the senior men’s national cricket team preparing for the Division 11 World Cricket League (WCL) tournament due next month.
Australia-based Ochan and Mutyagaba, who features for South African side Natal, last played for the Cricket Cranes in January when Uganda were relegated to the International Cricket Council (ICC) Division Three.
But recent consistent displays have now earned the duo call-ups to the national squad for the January 17-24 tournament. They are replacing Indian-born Suleman Sharif and UK-based wicket-keeper Naeem Bardai, who Uganda Cricket Association (UCA) considered surplus to requirements in the 14-man squad.
“I believe their (Ochan and Mutyagaba) return will bear fruit in Namibia,” Cricket Cranes skipper Frank Nsubuga welcomed the changes before speaking about the fixture line-up. “The fixture line-up is tricky. But knowing that every player selected knows what is at stake, we’ll try take it one game after another,” he added. “Ochan has been playing against some very good players in Australia lately and we hope his bowling can give us an extra punch.” Three months ago, dread-locked seamer Ochan turned down the call to represent Uganda in Malaysia because UCA had requested his club to release him on short notice.
“This time, UCA wrote to my club in time. My boss and I will be able to come to Kampala in a few days,” Ochan, the second best team bowler with six scalps when Uganda suffered relegation in New Zealand, said on phone from his base in Adelaide.
Uganda will open their account against WCL Div.3 champions Nepal at the Wanderers Affies Oval.
“The fixture line-up is tricky. But we are here to represent our country and want to do so well. We will fight to the end in every match,” he said.
Ochan is expected to improve coach Peter Kirsten’s pace-bowling options that include Jonathan Ssebanja, Deus Muhumuza and Danniel Ruyange..
Mutyagaba finished as Uganda’s best batsman in New Zealand with batting figures of 61 off 93 deliveries against Kenya enroute to a total tally 130 runs from six innings.
“His contribution to the top-order will be vital if we are to achieve our batting aggregate of about 270 runs per match,” Nsubuga said.
Uganda will hope to finish among the best four countries; hosts Namibia, Kenya, Netherlands, Canada and Nepal.