Ugandan cricket keen to move on from 2017 horror

A n uncomfortable lull has settled over Uganda’s senior men cricket team. The Cricket Cranes are currently in Qatar figuring in only their second tour following last year’s astonishing relegation to the ICC World Cricket League Division Four.

The relegation was initially greeted in unsparing terms, but there has since been a sharp reversal in tone. Before departing for the tour, which will have stopovers in not just Qatar but also India, Cricket Cranes coach Steve Tikolo spoke candidly with local media. Tikolo said the preparations should be viewed more through the lens of an amplifier as opposed to clarifier. The Kenyan rang a slew of changes, with the pick seeing Davis Karashani, Arthur Kyobe and Lawrence Ssematimba overlooked.

While Karashani failed to extricate himself from academic duties at Makerere University where he is pursuing a Law degree, Kyobe and Ssematimba were in no uncertain terms deemed surplus to requirements. 
The trio’s absence has made for an increasingly feverish atmosphere in the sense that the spotlight has been put on the three crucial facets of captaincy, opening gambit and wicketkeeping.

If Zephaniah Arinaitwe attacks the new ball with the trademark aggression that continues to belie his teenage years, Kyobe’s epitaph will well and truly be authored. It will in all honesty be a tragic footnote for the left hander whose career has been dazzlingly complicated. And that is putting it mildly.

Not one to go gently in the fading of afternoon into evening, expect Kyobe to chime with renewed purpose regardless of how Arinaitwe fares on the slow wickets in Qatar and India. Kyobe is not one to cower easily and he will stake his pressing claim to relevance on everything and anything.

The Challengers opening bat doesn’t have to be at his zestful best to talk up his chances. Such is his belief; it often arouses a steely and unflappable temperament. However, like a double edged sword, the powerful strain of the belief can either be a source of happiness or unending frustration.

Mirroring the opening gambit is the question of the captaincy. The question wouldn’t arise at all but for a gruelling undergraduate degree programme at Makerere University’s School of Law. The programme has seen Karashani and the Cricket Cranes not gently bump against one other as much as clash. Owing to this, Karashani’s availability for the 2018 ICC World Cricket League Division Four tournament in Malaysia rests on a cornerstone of conjecture.

New captain?
It’s not clear whether the erstwhile Cricket Cranes skipper will be writing his exams when the tournament occupies the backend of April and first week of May. If the two fail to meet each other halfway, then a new captain will have to be named.

Such an eventuality will leave Uganda heavily depleted. Not only would Karashani’s off break thrive on the slow Malaysian wickets, but also the player has over the years retooled his game by infusing his batting with dogged determination.

The 30-year-old’s captaincy — typified by aggressive field settings — will also be sorely missed. Roger Mukasa, who was named captain for the tour of Qatar and India, may be a gung-ho batsman, but his field settings are a tad too conservative.

It is hard to tell whether an approach that entails playing safe and letting opponents make mistakes will bring vast rewards for Uganda. For now, many Cricket Cranes fans’ preoccupation is with how the captaincy will affect Mukasa’s performance with the bat.

Elsewhere, with Ssematimba out of the picture, the burden of keeping wickets in Qatar and India will be shouldered by Naeem Bardai and youngster Fred Achelam. The glovework of both players is decent enough. While Bardai contributes more than Achelam with the bat, the former’s intermittent availability doesn’t stand him in good stead.

Achelam kept wickets as Uganda lost its first match of the bilateral series with Qatar Thursday. Mukasa complained about the weather being “too heavy” and “the ball...not travelling as it does back home.” Chasing 131 for victory in a T20 match, Mukasa and Arinaitwe brought up their 50 partnership well inside 10 overs, but Cricket Cranes lacked much-needed firepower after the two explosive openers departed.

This along with other problems (a knee injury picked up by Lloyd Paternott) means — the lull, or be it uncomfortable one, notwithstanding — it is pretty much a case of back to the future for the Cricket Cranes.

By Robert Madoi

Uganda on top after defeating hosts Kenya

There were no over-the-top celebrations as Uganda outmuscled Kenya by 69 runs in the highly-billed East African derby played at the Nairobi Jaffreys Sports Club Oval at the ongoing International Cricket Council (ICC) Africa U-19 World Cup Qualifier yesterday.

But no one should be fooled. The Baby Cricket Cranes know a thing or two about partying hard. But as the Kenyans jogged around the field for their warm down, skipper Kenneth Waiswa summoned the team for a huddle and quick prayer. They then sat on the oval infront of Uganda’s dugout for a team meeting to review the day’s performance with coaches; Franco Otieno, Jackson Ogwang, Steve Tikolo and David Obuya.

On their faces, it was visible they were happy they had got one over the old enemy but were not about to celebrate in the Kenyans’ faces because the job is only half done with another full round of fixtures to play starting today against Botswana, who suffered their third consecutive defeat after Ghana mauled them by six wickets at the Gymkhana Oval.

“It is not over,” said Otieno, a man who captained Kenya at the U-19 Level in 1998. “We have to remain calm and continue to do well over and over. There are areas we didn’t do well, when we panicked and where we failed to capitalise. We have to continue improving.”

Jittery moments
Indeed there were a couple of jittery moments in both innings. When Zephaniah Arinaitwe (42 off38) helped Uganda breeze to 55 inside 7 overs and then connived to lose three quick wickets to stay in a precarious situation at 85 for 3. 
The innings was revived by a 36-run fourth stand partnership between Steven Wabwose (44 off 59) and Waiswa (60 off 93) which was toppled by another one of 67 runs by the captain and all-rounder SirajeNsubuga (43 off 55) for the seventh wicket that ensured Uganda set 231.

Then although Kenya crumbled to 26 for 4 in the second innings. The 101-run partnership for the fifth wicket between Kenya captain Sachin Bhudia (52 off 66) and Thomas Ochieng (54 off 101) sent shivers down the Ugandan bowling’s spine and left the field in a disarray.

But Nsubuga (2/38 in 9.4 overs)’s clever dismissal of Bhudia (a caught and bowled) at 128 ignited Kenya’s collapse and the hosts were soon all out for 162 in 46.4 overs.
Today, Kenya run into a wounded Ghana whereas Uganda face Botswana looking to make it four not out as they chase the continent’s lone slot to New Zealand for the World Cup early next year.

By Innocent Ndawula

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UCA on road to conform with Sports Act

For the first time in the history of the Uganda Cricket Association (UCA), its elective assembly will take place after February.


And whereas such an occurrence has ruffled many feathers within the fraternity, outgoing UCA chairman Richard Mwami insists that they must look at the big picture.


“I am a busy man and I will be travelling a lot to help my company (EzeeMoney) grow as an entity. But we don’t want to hand over power when things are not right,” said Mwami, who has served as boss for the last four years.
“During our Special General Assembly on February 6 at Lugogo, we could not discuss any matter going forward because we are not legal. We are not aligned within the requirements of the 2014 National Council of Sports (NCS) regulations and we issued a notice of statutory change within 30 days as stipulated.”


Lawyers Dunstan Nsubuga Kamunvi, Fred Mpanga, Nicholas Kebba and Jeremy Kibuukamusoke, who is also the association’s secretary, averted any looming chaos by advising that UCA first sort out with NCS before the assembly can be held.


“It is a good thing that everyone in the assembly understands that we need to first be recognised by NCS,” says UCA CEO Justine Ligyalingi.


“Our learned friends (read lawyers) intervened and guided us there. Now the secretary has called for another SGM on March 12, which will be a vital step in our roadmap to ensure UCA conforms with NCS and set a date for the elective AGM.”


Previously, UCA was registered as a limited company and according to the new NCS Sports Act, it must either be a trusteeship or a non-governmental organisation body. 
“We have opted to register it as a trusteeship,” says Mwami, also a former national top-order batsman.
“After the SGM in March, we will provide for 21 days for the women clubs to pick their delegate to the board as well as the eight men’s clubs to appoint representatives to the new board from which the new chairman will be voted.” Each of the eight voting clubs will nominate one member to constitute the new-look board.

 

AGENDA - MARCH 12 
l Registration of delegates and determination of quorum. 
l Dissolution of Uganda Cricket Association Limited.
l Adoption of a trust complying with the National Council of Sports statutory requirements.
l Appointment of Trustees.
l Confirmation of Annual General Meeting date.

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Mukasa, Najjumba not about to rest on laurels

 When many consistently nodded their heads accompanied with several hand claps, it certainly felt right that all were worthy winners at the annual Uganda Cricket Association (UCA) Awards Gala on Thursday night.
This serene mood at Copper Chimney Restaurants hardly fluctuated as nine awards were dished out at the Castle Lite/Pepsi-sponsored event.


The evening climaxed with pundits’ favourite Roger Mukasa being announced as the 2015 UCA Male Cricketer of the Year in front of the elegantly dressed 200 guests. “I am extremely happy,” the smiling batsman told Sunday Monitor shortly after being crowned by chief guest Commissioner of Sports Omara Apitta.
“First, I dedicate this award to my fiancee Hajara Nabukenya,” he said while pointing at her. “Without her support, may be things would have been different. I also thank my friends, teammates and everybody who helped me got here.”

 

All-round performance
He beat three other nominees Hamu Kayondo, Irfan Afridi and Ivan Thawithemwira, having notched 797 runs in 13 innings, snared 12 wickets and clung onto 14 catches as his side Tornado Bee won their third successive National Men’s Division One 50-Over League title. 
Mukasa, also voted 2014 MVP, was also fourth best batsman with 85 runs as the Uganda’s senior national team finished fifth at last year’s ICC World Cricket League Div. II tournament in Namibia.

 

Three-horse race
Meanwhile, Franklyn Najjumba pipped KICC pair Gertrude Chandiru and Consy Aweko for the Female MVP gong. 
“Though I won this in 2010, I am really grateful to God for another award,” Najjumba said after receiving a standing ovation from her Pioneer teammates, the 2015 Women’s 40-Over League champions. 
“It was not easy. I was consistent throughout 2015 with bat (an average of 42 runs per innings) and ball which I think gave me the advantage. Hopefully, 2016 turns out even better,” she concluded.

2015 UCA AWARDS
Male MVP: 
Roger Mukasa
Female MVP: Franklyn Najjumba
Young Male MVP: Kenneth Waiswa
Young Female MVP: Ritah Musamali
Coach of the Year: Emmanuel Isaneez
Umpire of the Year: John Trust Mayeku
Best Volunteer: Ivan Thawithemwira
Best Groundsman: Julius Bukulu
Best Team Manager: Rita Tinka

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Pioneer remain on track with league victory over JACC

Pioneer skipper Justine Musubika struck a 68-ball 82 half-century to help her side beat hosts Jinja Association of Cricket Clubs (JACC) by 164 runs on Saturday.

“Like what any other leader would do,” Musubika said of her display. “Of course, those innings were very important to me and my team.”

The result was Pioneer’s seventh straight victory in eight ties and kept them top of the National Women’s 40-Over League log with 42 points, six clear of KICC and Tornado B. 
With six games to go, Musubika knows she and her teammates must keep performing to seal the title. 

“We don’t want to lose grip. We want to remain top of the table,” added the sibling of former Cricket Cranes players Fred Isabirye and Charles Waiswa.

With both sides arriving late due to unavoidable circumstances, Musubika won the toss and opted to bat.

Openers Carol Namugenyi and Lelia Namaganda fell early but Musubika restored parity with 10 boundaries in a 50-run partnership with Franklyn Najjumba (26 run-a-ball). Another 57-ball 40 from Betty Kalende led Pioneer to 231-5 from 32 overs. Despite Nuru Nakaziba (19 off 47) and Grace Nabasa’s (14 off 55) bravery, they couldn’t find their way past Pricco Nakitende (5/17) and Namugenyi (2/15).

Weekend results 
Pioneer 231/5 JACC 57/10
(Pioneer won by 174 runs)
Charity TF 154/7 Premier 84/5
(Charity TF won by 70 runs)

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Ochan, Mutyagaba back in Cricket side

 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.

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