The batting nightmares have lived with Uganda for eternity. Save for the fruitful campaign at the Pepsi Division III International Cricket Council (ICC) World Cricket League (WCL) in Kuala Lumpur last October, scores of 200 plus have largely remained a dream for the Cricket Cranes.
If they were four forward steps taken then, more than the same number have been taken trodden backwards now as Uganda failed miserably to string together any batting scorecard of 200 runs at the just-concluded global meet. The highest score for coach Peter Kirsten’s boys was 188 all out in the 111-run crushing defeat to Canada on January 21.
Pretoria-based Phillemon Mukobe was the hero in captain Frank Nsubuga’s spiritless batting arsenal with 188 runs at an average of 37. And the 28-year-old wicket-keeper’s decision to retire, because of work and family obligations later this year, will leave the team poor and hit its composition very hard.
Vice-captain Brian Masaba being second in rating to Mukobe with just 100 runs at an average of 20 per innings just continues to show how irresponsible the batsmen have been. A one-man or even two-man show was never going to be enough to pull Uganda through.
On Windhoek wickets largely tailor-made for batting but at times deteriorating fast because of new layers and offering some palpable assistance in the first and last hours on each day, discipline was demanded but the batsmen didn’t show enough of it. A display full of ghastly, ill-judged shots followed by glum expressions after dismissals with some horrific umpiring decisions is what was witnessed.
The tail-end of Patrick Ochan (64), Frank Nsubuga (38) and Jonathan Ssebanja (52) was always left with more than a half of the innings to counter – a tall order by any stretch of imaginations that equally left Kirsten with a strain and wry smirk on his face.
“I am at loss of words,” said the 59-year-old Gaffer. “The senior batsmen haven’t come to the party. There was no mental application and their shot selection has been poor. Considering the preparation we had, I am surprised and disappointed with our performances. It has not been a good show.” But if the batting woes deepened from bad to worse as justified by the 79 all out against Netherlands that was flattered by 22 extras, the fielding or lack of its proper execution left a bitter taste in the team’s contingent.
Ugandan teams were renowned for their exceptional catching and ground fielding but this side is letting those standards slide. Slow-left armer Henry Ssenyondo, the best bowler of the campaign with nine scalps, swallowed two stunning efforts off his own bowling in the nerve-wrecking two-run win against Nepal. Opening batsman Roger Mukasa then dived forward to his left in the mid-wicket region to spectacularly dismiss Canada skipper Jimmy Hansra on 31 off Ssenyondo’s bowling as the North Americans crumbled from 75 for 5 to 140 all out.
That reading makes attractive bookends to Uganda’s fielding in Namibia but bookends, most of the time, tell nothing. The most revealing material lies in the pages that sit in between and throughout the business end of the tournament Uganda’s fielding scripts made for poor reading.
Butter fingers were the order of the day and at least three catches were spilled per innings. Run outs were also missed and some ground fielding was suspect. Each of those misfields was punished as Nitish Kumar, dropped on 16, went on to make 104 for Canada – the only century of the tournament.
Against Namibia, Merwe Erasmus was dropped on 9 and he went on to blaze a match-winning 62, then Alex Obanda was put down on 0 against Kenya, the hard-hitting opener went on to score 32. The culprits were many including some of the team’s ‘best’ fielders.
“The difference between these teams and us is very thin. We belong in Division II and there is no doubt about it. We just have to rethink our strategies proper and fight the stage fright.”
And to think, the damage could have been limited will haunt the players for years to come as the team stays in Division III after a third failed attempt to make the Division II grade.
Uganda need to combat their batting fears, initiate a freewill spirit and starting exhibiting clinical shifts on a back-to-back basis as shown they can pull off in the easy 8-wicket win against Canada that helped them avoid the wooden spoon.
ICC WORLD CRICKET LEAGUE DIV. 2
Collated results for Uganda
Uganda 156/10 Nepal 154/10
Uganda won by two runs
Uganda 188/9 Namibia 189/6
Namibia won by four wickets
Uganda 129/10 Kenya 130/5
Kenya won by five wickets
Canada 293/6 Uganda 182/10
Canada won by 111 runs
Uganda 79/10 Netherlands 80/3
Netherlands won by 7 wickets
Fifth place playoff final
Canada 140/10 Uganda 144/2
Uganda won by 8 wickets
Final Team Standings
1. Netherlands (4 wins, 2 losses)
2. Namibia (4 wins, 2 losses)
3. Kenya (3 wins, 3 losses)
4. Nepal (3 wins, 3 losses)
5. Uganda (2 wins, 4 losses)
6. Canada (2 wins, 4 losses)
Top 4 batsmen
Phillemon Mukobe 188 runs
Brian Masaba 100 runs
Arthur Kyobe 99 runs
Roger Mukasa 85 runs
Top 4 bowlers
Henry Ssenyondo 9 wickets
Jonathan Ssebanja 9 wickets
Frank Nsubuga 7 wickets
Patrick Ochan 7 wickets