Cricket Cranes coach Tikolo preaches belief

It has been eons since Uganda either last scored runs in the excess of 250 or chased down targets of 260 plus in a competitive game.
Uganda’s game, especially with the bat, was all about giving deliveries either a gung-ho or dead-straight bat approach.
In such a scenario, it was either hitting out of trouble and hope luck stays on your side or just playing delivers, especially those from spin bowlers, with a dead straight bat in fear of crumbling or losing wickets.
The art of grafting had been heard of but never applied because it wasn’t in Ugandans’ DNA. And local batsmen’s way of playing was suicidal and not productive over consistent games.

But on Steve Tikolo’s Second Coming as Uganda coach, he has worked overtime to find a formula to Uganda’s batting madness. And although the Cricket Cranes remain a work in progress, the results are starting show.
“We can compete with these sides (foreign franchises) on daily basis and even beat them if we believe in our process,” Tikolo told Daily Monitor after the Cricket Cranes picked up their third win - a six-wicket win over Kwazulu Natal Inland Academy - on this ongoing Tour of South Africa on Monday.

“We have the talent in our side to finish off games clinically with calculated risks. The guys have got to continue playing to their strengths and execute the game plans. Hard work is a must in this game of cricket.”
Uganda play their sixth game against KZN franchise today and will be eager to continue making hay as they prepare for the International Cricket Council (ICC) World Cricket League (WCL) Division III showpiece scheduled for this November in Oman.

By Innocent Ndawula

Tikolo focuses on death bowling, squad for Africa T20 announced

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 
Western Province.
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

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

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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Nairobi tourney chance for Tikolo to bond with Cricket Cranes

Since he took over as coach, Steve Tikolo, hasn’t had an opportunity to test his players in a highly competitive environment. The Four-Nation Quadrangular Series bowling off tomorrow in Nairobi gives a perfect chance. Nairobi tourney chance for Tikolo to bond with Cricket Cranes

Davis Karashani, Lawrence Ssematimba, Frank Nsubuga, Jonathan Ssebanja, Roger Mukasa, Arthur Kyobe, Charles Waiswa and Steve Tikolo are not new names on the international cricket scene.

Karashani is such a darling of many that even when he went into retirement prompted by a knee injury, many in the cricket circles continuously referred to him as skipper. 
The sextet of Ssematimba, Nsubuga, Waiswa, Ssebanja, Mukasa and Kyobe has been in and out of the national set-up, enjoying success and failure in equal measure.

From the days of Tom Tikolo in 2005 to the first stint of his younger sibling Steve as batting coach for the Cricket Cranes in 2011, the Tikolos hold a special place in the hearts of Ugandans; each of them is addressed as coach, irrespective of the dugout they are commanding.

Coach Tikolo and his players have been starved of international action and they feel only victory at the Four-Nation Quadrangular Series bowling off tomorrow in Nairobi will strengthen their bond.

“It is not about me,” Karashani repetitively told journalists at the team’s flag ceremony for the event involving unknown quantities Qatar, Saudi Arabia and host-nation Kenya, when he was bombarded with questions about his return from retirement at Lugogo yesterday.

“These guys (team) want to make up for the past near-misses and this tournament presents them a chance to show what they can do after two years of no action. They are starved and it is understandable that they are pumped up for this tournament.”

Coach Tikolo was speaking about team cohesion, too, ahead of the return to his motherland. “It is a chance for us to work on team camaraderie and composition,” said the 45-year-old Kenyan legend.
“Such build-up tournaments will help us gel.

We are looking to play a couple of more games against Zimbabwe’s Takashinga as we gear up for the Dicvision III ICC World Cricket League early next year.” Uganda opens its campaign against Saudi Arabia in the One-Day International (ODI) Series at Nairobi Gymkhana Oval tomorrow.

UGANDA’S FIXTURES
Four-Nation ODI Series
Sept.20: vs. Saudi Arabia
Sept. 21: vs. Qatar
Sept. 23: vs. Kenya
Sept. 24: Final
Four-Nation T20 Series
Sept. 26: vs. Saudi Arabia
Sept. 27: vs. Qatar
Sept. 28: vs. Kenya

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I am excited and anxious - Tikolo

 Kenyan legend Steve Tikolo described Uganda as his second home and Lugogo as its backyard on his second coming as Cricket Cranes coach.
Tikolo was in Uganda, Lugogo in particular, for 10 months in 2012/13 as an assistant/batting coach during a fairytale reign that saw Uganda win the T20 African Premier League (APL) in 2012 and also seamlessly sailed through to the World Cricket League (WCL) Division II after dominating proceedings in Bermuda 2013.

The 44-year-old also has fond memories of Lugogo having stroked a superb ton of 149 at the home of cricket in Uganda as Kenya (32 points) batted Uganda (15 points) out of the Intercontinental Cup in 2005 and he meant every bit of the phrase about Lugogo and Uganda. “I am not a stranger in Uganda,” Tikolo spotting a straight face told journalists at a function held to unveil a galaxy of coaches appointed by Uganda Cricket Association (UCA) to spearhead the ambitious Project 2016/17.
“I have been here several times. This is my second home and I will be comfortable. I am excited and anxious in a positive way.”

Challenge ahead
Tikolo also spoke about the challenge ahead. “Our immediate target is to qualify back to Division II. The training is open to all players who believe they have what it takes to play for Uganda. I will also monitor the league and see whoever is performing. Then in July, I will name a provisional squad of 30, he said.
“I am determined to achieve the targets before me and I believe the boys have it in them to bounce back. I am a man of few words and my work will speak for itself.”
Michael Ndiko will serve as Tikolo’s assistant on a one-year renewable contract whereas UCA development manager Henry Okecho takes over the mantle as both U-23 and U-19 national men’s teams head coach. His assistants are Emmanuel Isaneez and Jackson Ogwang.

“The two teams at my disposal are very significant to the future of the game in Uganda. They bring together players that are closely aged and both teams will offer platforms for the players to express themselves before playing for the national team. The U-23s will sort of be like our Uganda A side.”
John Tumusiime and Emmanuel Kamya are in charge of the national U-15 side whereas celebrated Habibu Mugalula is the new tutor of the National U-19 girls’ team in what promises to be both an exciting and crucial period for the game in Uganda.

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Legend Tikolo back as Cricket Cranes coach

The search for a new gaffer by Uganda Cricket Association (UCA) is as good as over.

Initiated in Nairobi soon after being sacked by Cricket Kenya, brokered in Zimbabwe where he was Team Manager for the Kenya Ladies at the just-concluded ICC Africa Women World T20 Qualifier, legendary Steve Tikolo flies into town today to put pen to paper and take over as Cricket Cranes coach on a one-year renewable contract.

Daily Monitor has learnt that UCA zeroed down on Tikolo after a vetting process that started in April involving a handful of renowned tacticians from India, South Africa, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe among others.

This will not be Tikolo’s first time to tutor Uganda after he sat in the dugout as Martin Suji’s assistant/batting coach when the Cricket Cranes won the Pepsi T20 African Premier League (APL) in 2012 and sailed through seamlessly to earn ICC World Cricket League Division II qualification in Bermuda 2013.

He also steered local franchise Rwenzori Warriors to the defunct East Africa Cricket League title after beating Kenya Kongonis during his tenure. But being head coach this time round, the 44-year-old has his plate full with a bumper schedule awaiting him.

After meeting the UCA Board on Thursday, Tikolo is expected to meet all the players vying for national team slots before embarking on a tedious project of scouting for new talent across the country. He will then select a provisional squad basing on the players’ performances in the league and net sessions he will have conducted in Jinja and Lugogo.

Uganda is eager to rub shoulders with the ‘big boys’ again when the ICC WCL Division III – a tournament UCA has already bid to host, takes center stage in January 2017.

Selected former coaches 
Aug 2014- Jan 2015: Peter Kirsten 
April 2014–Aug 2014: Davis Turinawe
July 2013 – Feb 2014: Johan Rudolph
May 2013 – July 2013: Henry Okecho

Tikolo at a glance

Name: Stephen Ogonji Tikolo (44 years old)
Place: Nairobi, Kenya
Nationality: Kenyan
Nickname: Gunnzie
Batting style: Right-handed
Bowling style: Right-arm off spin
Role: Batting all-rounder
ODI debut: February 18, 1996 vs India
Last ODI: Jan 23, 2014 vs. Netherlands 
Teams coached: Kenya, Kenya U-19, Kenya Women, Uganda, Rwenzori Warriors (Uganda), Southern Rocks (Zimbabwe).

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