- Published in National League
Uganda are setting out on a mission to enhance their reputation as real African giants.
Yesterday, a 16-man contingent led by coach Habibu Mugalula and manager Harriet Nanziri departed for Kigali in attempt to reclaim the Kwibuka Cricket For Peace Women’s Twenty20 Tournament title.
But unlike other teams, Uganda have thrown their young girls - The Schools Select XI - into the deep end against national teams of Rwanda, Zambia and Kenya to fight for honours. Mugalula takes the best players selected from the just-concluded Pepsi Girls Schools’ Cricket Week won by his Jinja SS last month.
“This is another chance for the youngsters to grow as we have done for their seniors,” acting Uganda Cricket Association (UCA) CEO Martin Ondeko said before the team was flagged off by National Council of Sports General Secretary David Katende in Lugogo on the cold morning. And the intent is clear for June 7-10 event at the Gahanga Stadium. “We are going to bring back the trophy,” said assistant captain Immaculate Nakisuyi after receiving the flag.
Nakisuyi is selected alongside Jinja SS teammates captain Rita Musamali and Stephanie Nampiina.
The trio is also part of the senior team preparing for the ICC T20 World Cup Qualifier in Netherlands next month.
KAMPALA- Players’ faces were evidently weary following an unexpected non-stop schedule and inevitably, joy was only confined as Team Uganda returned from Malaysia as ICC World Cricket League (WCL) Division Four champions yesterday.
After a two-hour journey from Entebbe Airport to Kampala, team captain Roger Mukasa and company would later free up after relaxing during a luncheon in company of Uganda Cricket Association by National Council of Sports at Café Javas in Kamwokya.
“The boys played world class cricket,” Mukasa told Daily Monitor. Coach Steve Tikolo’s side had only travelled back hours after defending 90 runs to beat Jersey by seven runs in the final match in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday.
Close shaves punctuated Uganda’s success with the 1-run win over Denmark standing out most. Victory over Jersey was the fourth in a row as the East Africa nation responded to the opening 9-run loss to Malaysia.
“We give it all to our fans and we urge them to keep supporting us. In sport, you win and lose,” Mukasa said.
“The wickets were spinning as we expected and it means the trial games we had in Rwanda, Qatar, India and against Saudi Arabia really helped us a lot.”
Spinner Muhammad Afridi was the best bowler having taken 15 wickets and 15 maidens from 55 overs in the competition.
There is no much time to celebrate as Team Uganda will play at two continental Twenty20 events in Rwanda and Kenya next month before the WCL Division Three falls in.
Division Three which comprises Oman, Kenya, Singapore, USA, Uganda and Denmark is more crucial.
“We’ve beaten all those teams before. We play never-say-die cricket until the final ball. So we shall not lay our hands down, we are going to work on what did not go right in Malaysia.” added Mukasa before the tired batch parted ways at dusk.
From the look of things, Uganda Cricket Association vowed to never take things for granted after the country got relegated at the ICC World Cricket League (WCL) Division Three championship last May.
Today, nearly all teams are accorded more attention by UCA than usual ahead of international engagements. The feeling of not enough done is still abound the senior men’s national team at it prepares for the ICC WCL Division Four championship in Malaysia next month.
After recent visits to Rwanda, Qatar and India in the last six months, the Cricket Cranes will now host the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in a nine-day Bilateral Series in Kampala.
“We did a lot of purifying in Qatar and India,” said Cricket Cranes’ captain Roger Mukasa. Uganda lost 3-2 in the Qatar Series but was much better with a 7-1 win in the Tour of India.
Top-order batsman Mukasa reckons preparations for the April 28 - May 5 trip to Malaysia still need a test from the Saudis.
“We are not resting,” the Tornado Bee player stated ahead of the four limited-over matches and one T20 tie at Lugogo and Kyambogo starting tomorrow throughout the Easter weekend. “We needed some trials games to help players polish up a few things at individual level.” Mukasa added.
His coach Steve Tikolo does not differ much. “We achieved what we wanted to in (Qatar and India) but the way forward is simple, we have to keep training,” the Kenyan legend said in a recent interview.
BILATERAL SERIES ITINERARY
March 28: Saudi team arrival
March 29: Rest day
March 30: 50-Over Match (Kyambogo)
March 31: T20 Match (Kyambogo)
April 1: 50-Over Match (Lugogo)
April 2: Rest Day
April 3: 50-Over Match (Lugogo)
April 4: 50-Over Match (Lugogo)
April 5: Departure
By Darren Allan Kyeyune & Makhtum Muziransa
UGANDA’S TOUR OF INDIA
Seven Match Series in Chikhil
Surat City – Gujarat State
Summary For Twenty20 Match – Feb 16
Uganda 129/6 beat ND Warriors XI 75/9
by 54 runs (with 32 balls remaining)
*Man Of Match: Deus Muhumuza
Summary For Twenty20 Match – Feb 16
Skipper XI Gujarat 108 all out in 19.2 overs
lost to Uganda 112 for 4 in 17.3 overs by six
wickets with 15 balls remaining.
*Man Of Match: Simon Ssesazi
CHIKHIL. India and Qatar are worlds apart in every inch of the phrase. Whereas Qatar remains on track of becoming a first world country, India is gnawing as a third-world nation.
But the latter make up for what they don’t have in infrastructure by being the No.1 cricketing nation in the world, something Qatar may never achieve in eons.
The Cricket Cranes, too, are gradually taking the baby steps and showing that they can adapt and survive in both worlds – the high-end of Doha and lowlife in Gujarat.
From an impressive shift on the national team’s maiden visit to the oil-rich nation, Steve Tikolo’s troops have showed no signs of fatigue after settling into the remote but beautiful Sanjay Farm in Chikhil which is 225 kilometers from the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport in Mumbai.
Two games down the road, the Cricket Cranes have not only excited the locals with a free-spirt brand of cricket as justified by the numbers that keep trickling in to watch but have also picked up satisfactorily if not convincing victories. All-rounder Deus Muhumuza mixed hard-running and clean hitting on his way to a Man of Match (MOM) innings of 35 runs as Uganda breezed to a 54-run win on the Tour to India’s opening Twenty20 match against ND Warriors XI.
Uganda set 129 and then bowled out the hosting side for 75 thanks to a brilliant spell of 3 wickets for 5 runs in 4 overs from debutant Dinesh Nakrani.
In the afternoon on Friday, Simon Ssesazi flourished with a chanceless half century of 51 as Uganda secured a six-wicket win against Skipper XI Gujarat in the second Twenty20 match at the Shri Mohanlal Desai Cricket Ground (Sanjay Farm).
The 21-year-old left-hand batsman featured in a 44-run match-changing partnership with Nakrani (15) as Uganda chased down 107 and duly deserved his MOM award – the second on this 16-day long tour.
“The guys are starting to realise their roles,” said coach Tikolo. “But we are still not yet hitting our set targets. We were ran close in these two games and I have told the guys that we can do a lot better. We need to pump ourselves for the remaining games.”
By press-time Uganda were taking on a much-polished Surat Cricket Association U-19 side, whose players feature for the Gujarat State U-19 side – a straight feeder to the India U-19 outfit that has just won the ICC Junior World Cup down under in New Zealand.
The team will play three more Limited Over matches and one Twenty20 before they return home on February 23.
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.
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
Game 1: Uganda vs. Tanzania
Game 2: Uganda vs. Tanzania
Kampala. Ordinarily, there is a hangover that breeds after one attains an achievement.
But for the Uganda national women’s cricket team, it must have been a brief one after they garnered the title at the ICC Africa Women’s Twenty20 World Cup Qualifiers in Windhoek, Namibia last September.
In December, victorious coach Grace Mutyagaba and his superior Francis Otieno embarked on preparations for the ICC Global T20 Qualifier which bowls off July 3-14 in Netherlands.
The team broke off for the festive season on December 22, resumed training on January 8 and yesterday, the selected 14 players flew out to Dar-es-Salaam for a build-up tour against hosts Tanzania.
“This gives players a different challenge,” coach Otieno explained the importance of the trip to the coastal city moments after the team had been flagged off by Uganda Cricket Association (UCA) administrator Martin Ondeko on Friday.
The team will play six T20 matches against Tanzania beginning today until Wednesday. Normally, Uganda tours Kenya, so why the change?
“We played Kenya before Dubai (2016) and Namibia (2017) trips. So this is a change is menu for the players. And besides, Tanzania is such a strong side that they have something we can pick from them,” Otieno said.
Four players who were part of the Africa T20 triumph including tournament MVP Gertrude Candiru (malaria), Carol Namugenyi (work), Naomi Kayondo (school in UK) and Joyce Mary Apio (form) miss out.
But their voids will be filled by returning Claire Mushakamba as well as eager and enterprising debutants Irene Alumo, Evelyn Anyipo and Esther Ilukor.
In July, Uganda will be featuring at the Global Qualifier alongside Thailand, UAE, Scotland, Papua New Guinea, Ireland, Bangladesh and the Dutch for the first time.
By Darren Allan Kyeyune & Innocent Ndawula