- Published in General News
Aziz Damani Cricket Club is intent to defend their Jazz Safari National League title in style.
It is a priority that has been followed up by three opening wins of the season against Strikers, Kutchi Tigers and Premier.
The latter 262-run victory last weekend was spiced up by an 80-ball 102 ton by Saud Islam in Kyambogo.
“So far, so good,” Damani all-rounder Brian Masaba said. “It’s a good start. But we don’t want to leave any room for complacency. We want to do it better than we did it last year,” he said.
Now Damani heads to Lugogo Oval today to face a stubborn Ceylon Lions that has blown more cold than hot in their first three matches.
“We should be doing better,” their opening batsman Simon Ssesazi said. Last weekend, the left-hander made just 15 runs but those double figures marked an improvement considering he struggled with just single digits. “I feel better than when I was in Malaysia. Now facing Damani which has coach Steve Tikolo and seven other national teammates, I know a thing or two and try out for a big score.”
By DARREN ALLAN KYEYUNE
At the back of the minds of the senior national team players, the clock is ticking fast to the ICC World Cricket League Division Four Championship.
That imminent showpiece comes April 28 - May 5 in Malaysia and each second counts for coach Steve Tikolo’s charges.
The Easter weekend will see his side physically and mentally away from their families as Team Uganda fine-tunes preparations for the Asia mission with a Bilateral Series against the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
The five-match Series begins today when Uganda faces the men from the Middle East in a T20 blitz at the University Oval in Kyambogo.
“Our target is to win here as we prepare for our next tournament in Kuwait,” captain Muhammad Afzal said, as his coach Liaquat Ali translated, at the Series’ launch in Lugogo yesterday. “The weather is quite pleasant and we believe we shall put up a challenge,” added Afzal.
Their Pakistan-born coach Ali played for Pakistan Islamic team from 1986-1988 and has coached in Saudi since.
“The Saudi tour gives us the opportunity to work on areas such as team strategy, plans and combinations and look to perfect them before Malaysia,” Tikolo told Daily Monitor following a lengthy selection meeting on Wednesday night. Key is how skipper Roger Mukasa consolidates the batting unit that comprises of experienced Hamu Kayondo and Shahzad Kamal as well as youngsters Simon Ssesaazi, Zephaniah Arinaitwe and Simon Ssesaazi.
There should also be a final toss of the coin between wicket-keepers Fred Achelam and Arthur Ziraba.
Spinners Irfan Afridi, Frank Nsubuga and Henry Ssenyondo will need company of seamers like the Waiswas Charles and Kenneth, Deus Muhumuza and Brian Masaba.
The East African nation last sat on a cricket table with the Saudis back at the Four-Nation Series in September, 2016. “I wish to state that they are a good team. I believe we are up and ready for the challenge at hand.” Tikolo recalled the previous meeting in Nairobi. “When we played them in Nairobi, they seemed a balanced side with a strong batting line up, two good opening bowlers and some good spinners. An area that they lacked a bit in was their fielding.
That might have changed since it’s about 19 months now since then. We just need to focus on our game, make sure we back ourselves and play good cricket.” Tikolo added.
SAUDI ARABIA TOUR OF UGANDA
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
Friendly tours are not all about winning. But in sport, winning is, most of the time, everything. And if results are anything to go by on this Bilateral Cricket Series, Uganda can count themselves victors since they have triumphed over the senior men’s Qatar side twice after four games.
The East Africans blemish has been the two losses to the Qatar President’s XI – a mixture of the emerging players, senior squadsmen and those yet to make the grade to represent the gulf nation.
But in all four games played, Steve Tikolo’s boys have acquainted themselves well and run the opposition close even the lost matches as justified by the 13-run and 12-run loss in Game One (Twenty20) and Game Four (45-Over rubber) respectively.
Brand of cricket
Captain Roger Mukasa and his brigade have won over some local fans along the way for their never-give-up attitude and brand of cricket.
But all that could count for nothing in the eyes of the partisan fans back at home if the Cricket Cranes don’t seal the initiative in the tour-ending Twenty20 match at the Asian Town International Cricket Stadium today.
“We want to win,” said Mukasa without thinking twice. “But even if we lose, we want to do so after doing the basics right and playing to the team strategy. We have a big squad here and the coach wants everyone to put in a good number of games under their belt.”
Qatar National Sports Day
The series decider happens on a public holiday for the natives dubbed – The Qatar National Sports Day – held annually on the second Tuesday in February, with the main objective of promoting a healthy lifestyle among its population and celebrate the Qatar’s bid that earned the right to host the Fifa 2022 World Cup.
“Expect a good crowd at the stadium and expect fierce competition from us. We want to show our crowd that we can do well in the ICC World T20 Regional Qualifiers scheduled for Kuwait in April,” said Qatar captain Inam Ul-Haq.
KAMPALA. A busy schedule looms for the Cricket Cranes and Uganda Cricket Association (UCA) have opted to take the bull by its horns in preparation for the International Cricket Council (ICC) World Cricket League (WCL) Division IV in Malaysia as well as the Africa Twenty20 Cup in Rwanda.
To get the preparations started, a provisional squad of 17 will tour Qatar and India for invaluable match practice and exposure as they try to execute what they have been doing in training, thanks to UCA’s partnership with Cricket Sanjay Farm’s Swetal Desai.
On the backdrop of Roger Mukasa and Charles Waiswa’s involvement with the Nairobi Provincial Cricket Association (NPCA) Select Team that toured India last year, Desai was overwhelmingly impressed by the pair’s talent and pledged to support the development of cricket in Uganda.
UCA chairman Bashir Ansasiira travelled to India for a special meeting with Desai on December 26 last year and the two high caliber personalities fixed the tour for next month (February 17-23).
Cricket Cranes Team Manager Jackson Kavuma, who alongside CEO Justine Ligyalingi and Operations Manager Martin Ondeko finalised the tour arrangements, said the purpose of this tour was not only to test the team’s potential.
“We are indebted to Cricket Sanjay Farm and Desai who are going to facilitate a bigger portion of our budget,” said Kavuma.
“The purpose of the tour is to also unleash cricketing skills in the remote part of South Gujarat and it will also hopefully open new dimensions for Uganda cricket.”
Before heading to India, coach Steve Tikolo and his men will camp in Qatar for a series of T20 and 50-over rubbers against the national side that is littered with classy players from India, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
SQUAD TO QATAR, INDIA
Batsmen: Roger Mukasa, Hamu Kayondo, Zephaniah Arinaitwe, Simon Ssesaazi, Shahzad Kamal, Lloyd Patternot
All Rounders: Deus Muhumuza, Brian Masaba, Frank Nsubuga, Kenneth Waiswa, Irfan Afridi Riazat Shah
Wicket-Keeper: Fred Achelam
Spinner: Henry Ssenyondo
Pace Bowlers/Seamers: Charles Waiswa, Trevor Bukenya, Bilal Hassan
Reserves: Emmanuel Isaneez, Steven Wabwose.
By INNOCENT NDAWULA
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