Mukankusi returns to Lady Cricket Cranes ahead of Africa Tournament

Barbara Mukankusi was one of the pioneer figures of the national women’s team in 2001 and actually is the last standing player from that first-ever assembled unit.
However, in recent years, nature’s call forced Mukankusi to sit aside and following the birth of her third child in 2017, she is back to the national fold.

The top-order batter was named among the 40-man squad that is set for early preparations for the ICC Women’s World Cup Qualifiers from May 8-13 in Zimbabwe. “Of late, I have been playing locally but internationally, I last played in 2016,” said Mukankusi.
The veteran’s basis for her selection is the decent batting figures she posted as Pioneer came close to a second Jazz Safari National Women’s League title last year.
“I wanted Pioneer to win the league last year and that’s why I played the way I did. I am only glad the selectors still see potential in me,” stated Mukankusi.

Mukankusi, led the teams for years, reckons there is work to do even if she has history and figures to back her up. “I played last season minus practice because of the busy work schedule and family and we had no coach (at Pioneer),” she said. “(Now) national team comes with full package, coach, I must attend training and so on. I will gain much from this and improve on my performance.”
The training sessions which commence on Monday will have two groups trained in Jinja by Habib Mugalula and at Lugogo by Micheal Ndiko.
The composition is eight from Sixes Challenge champions Olila High, Jinja SSS has seven in, League and T20 queens Aziz Damani have six players as is Soroti Challengers. Olila High School’s Damalie Busingye, too, returns after three-year lull.

FULL TRAINING SQUAD

Rita Musamali, Janet Mbabazi, Rachael Ntono, Immaculate Nakisuyi, Joyce Mary Apio, Stephanie Nampiina, Franklyn Najjumba, Gertrude Candiru, Kevin Awino, Consy Aweko, Carol Namugenyi, Patricia Malemikia, Esther Ilukor, Damalie Busingye, Evelyn Ayipo, Irene Alumo, Leona Babirye, Teddy Ayella, Maria Kagoya, Kevin Amuge, Barbara Mukankusi, Janet Nakiranda, Hope Wanichan, Claire Mushakamba, Mackenzie Ayato, Proscovia Alako, Gloria Obukor, Eunice Alungat, Brenda Nabisalu, Lynet Nakato, Patricia Munguryek, Maria Mwesige, Racheal Achan, Sarah Walaza, Sarah Akiteng, Susan Kakai, Saddick Shakira, Mary Akello, Charity Nyokaru, Eunice Kobusingye Coaches: Habibu Mugalula (Jinja), Micheal Ndiko (Lugogo)

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Omtex promise more support to Uganda Cricket Association

When Team Uganda made their first-ever trip to India in 2018, they knew nothing about Vijay Patel and his healthy-sport clothing company Omtex.
All they knew was Sanjay Farm’s Swetal Desai who had extended an Olive Branch to Uganda Cricket Association (UCA) through Roger Mukasa and Charles Waiswa whom he had seen playing their trade for the Nairobi Provincial Cricket Association (NPCA) XI in 2017.
The brand of cricket displayed by the two senior Cricket Cranes players while in Andhra Pradesh bowled Swetal, who asked the duo to extend a follow-up invitation to UCA.
But when Uganda made its maiden tour they won over more lovers, because of the fearless brand of cricket played with verve and skill, including Vijay.
This relationship between the two (UCA and Omtex) yielded quick fruits with the clothing company designing the current national stripe that is predominantly yellow, a warm-up kit that primarily red and black track-suit with red-stripes.

Good partnership
As a thank you, Omtex gifted UCA, 70 pieces of travelling shirts that national teams that have used as official wear since.
On Uganda’s second visit this year, Uganda has benefitted more from the partnership with Omtex, who provided a set of jerseys, sun-hats and caps for the team to use while on tour. Vijay also offered a set of fielding gloves and a coach from his set-up to tutor the team and six Under 19 players that stayed back in India for extra 15 days (Feb 24 – March 12) in a boot camp. 
“I want to do more to help Uganda develop as a cricket nation,” said Vijay Patel who also gave designer camouflage jackets to Uganda’s best performers on the tour including 16-year-old Juma Miyagi (18 wickets) and batsman Arnold Otwani.
“Maybe in future we grow this partnership to a level where we give you kits bags, fielding kits and training jersey as well as other equipment.”
On a light note, Vijay finished as the best bowler in a Mumbai Corporate League (Agent Jack’s Cup) that his club partakes in.
The six U-19 players in India are scheduled to return just in time for a flight to the World Cup Qualifiers in Windhoek on March 15.

Cricket Cranes to make light weather of Oman

Team Uganda have calmly settled into the Arabian Peninsula of Oman ahead of their International Cricket Council (ICC) World Cricket League (WCL) Division III campaign.

With Uganda set to play its opening match on Friday (November 9), Uganda Cricket Association chairman Bashir ‘Badu’ Ansasiira worked his magic to send the Cricket Cranes for at least four days of acclimatization here in Muscat.

All seems to be going according to plan for the team based at the five-star City Seasons Hotel as the team continues with preparation and adapting programme.

“We are grateful to Mr Khimji Kanak the director of KR Group here in Oman who has hosted and ensured our desire to acclimatize becomes a reality,” said Jackson Kavuma, the Cricket Cranes Team Manager.

“He has taken care of a large chunk of our logistics to ensure that we have a decent place to put our heads and also access training facilities. This preparation is priceless as the team embarks on a tough but possible mission.”

The Cricket Cranes arrived in Muscat in the wee-hours of Monday morning, had a cardio session including gym, swimming and stretching at the hotel’s rooftop pool and did shake off the jet-lag proper yesterday with fully-fledged training session at OC Turf for two hours.

The season is winter here but doesn’t differ too much from that of Uganda with the conditions hot and air staying dry. The team will continue to adapt before taking on Denmark and USA on two back-to-back days (Friday and Saturday).

Acclimatizing. ItThe Cricket Cranes arrived in Muscat in the wee-hours of Monday morning, had a cardio session including gym, swimming and stretching at the hotel’s rooftop pool and did shake off the jet-lag proper yesterday with fully-fledged training session at OC Turf for two hours.

By Innocent Ndawula

Cricket Cranes give hope to kids in Mulago ahead of Mission Oman

The Cricket Cranes – Uganda’s national men cricket team – were this morning involved in action but off the oval as they indulged in some Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).
They made time for the disadvantaged with a visit to Mulago Hospital where they were welcomed with faces of gloom and doom as parents and guardians attended to their patients.
But it was at Jeliffe Children’s Ward 16 that the Cricket Cranes got a reality check when they saw hundreds of children of varying ages, some struggling for their lives and others only waiting for divine intervention to heal.

Mulago Hospital’s Customer Relations Officer Shaban Ssebuliba asked Cricket Cranes opening bowler Bilal Hassun to lead the prayers. 
As the players and team management comforted the sick, many couldn’t help but break down. The sad tales from the parents and guardians left others thoughtful but made them stronger and work with resolve as they thoroughly cleaned and polished not one but five wards in the Children Zone.
They also mopped the verandah of the 1945 establishment, swept the compound and wrapped it up by putting smiles on their hosts’ faces as they handed over an assortment of play toys, clothes, scholastic materials and home-care items.

Shaban Ssebuliba Customer Relations Officer of Mulago said; “What you have done is unbelievable. You have comforted us and left us with smiles. The lives of these sick children are going to be even better. Thanks for the love and time given to us. You guys are real Cricket Cranes and I know u will fly. We will follow you and support you from now on.”
There was also a moment of selfies at the facility for the Endiro Coffee-sponsored team that flies out to Muscat, Oman tomorrow (November 4) for the International Cricket Council (ICC) World Cricket League (WCL) Division III campaign.

The Cricket Cranes Team Manager Jackson Kavuma said; “We are privileged to be the first national team to do this here. We are very emotional right now. We hope the time we have shared with them will give them hope and belief. We will continue to pray for them.”
More than anything that the Cricket Cranes did, they gave hope to the patients and left a fresh aura of awe-inspiring belief.

By Innocent Ndawula

Tales of a Ug Cricket Fan Understanding the Big Leagues

You mean cricket has a world cup? Since when??

I wondered to myself a few days after the national men’s team - the Cricket Cranes - emerged champions in the just recently concluded Division four World Cricket League (WCL) tournament. I had just read an article in one of the dailies that mentioned how this particular victory marked the beginning of their dream to play in the world cup and I thought, hold up. How does that work? And with all the twenty something years I have lived on this earth, why I am just getting this information now? Some cricket fan I am!

The Cricket Cranes Pose With The WCL Div 4 Trophy In Malaysia

Obviously, the next question would be, how does Uganda qualify for the ICC World Cup?

I figured this simple question would have an equally simple answer, but because life has never been easy, this answer followed suit. Nothing prepared me (and accompanying reactions) for the answer I received! From confusion to surprise to shock and even anger at some point, this somewhat clueless fan embarked on a journey towards discovering what it would take for the Pearl of Africa to reach the ‘big leagues’, so to speak. And this seemingly innocent question opened my eyes, and maybe will open yours as well, to a whole new world of cricket that I never knew existed but first, things first…

Understanding the basics

Firstly, it’s the Cricket World Cup not the ICC World Cup. Are we clear? Good.

Secondly, do you know that cricket is probably the second most popular sport in the world? With populous countries like India, Australia, and even Pakistan being so obsessed with it – it’s not difficult to see why. (And yes, soccer is probably the most popular) so it is only plausible that it would have world a tournament of its own that features the world’s top national teams. But I asked myself, why have I never heard of it until now? And more importantly, has my beloved Uganda ever featured in it?

Clarke and McCullum Pose With The 2015 Cricket World Cup

Thirdly, ‘ICC is to cricket as FIFA is to soccer.’ The International Cricket Council or ICC for short, governs cricket all over the world and their headquarters are based in the luxurious city of Dubai, UAE.

Last but not least, the Cricket World Cup much like the FIFA World Cup, takes place every four years and within that period are a series of qualification tournaments that cricket nations participate in order to make the cut. But like most things, the devil is always in the details. I was in for a rude awakening.

The qualification process                                    

Whereas the FIFA has continental tournaments, where a particular number of the best in each of the six continents are selected to participate in the world cup, the ICC has two major qualification tournaments that cricket nations can participate in to possibly make it to the Cricket World Cup namely, the ICC ODI Championships and the World Cricket League.

ODI is short for One Day International, a format of limited overs cricket played between cricket nations with international status where two teams face a fixed number of overs normally fifty. It’s like a verification badge on twitter; if you don’t have it, then the limited overs matches you play are not recognized as international. Out of the 107 cricket nations world-wide, only 16 nations have this status and no, Uganda is not one of them.

 

Nepal, Along With Afghanistan, Netherlands and Ireland Got Their ODI Status in 2018

Why? Because, 12 of the 16 are Test nations and thus have permanent ODI status. The remaining four join this league of elite based on their performance at the preceding World Cup Qualifier, but unlike the 12, these four get temporary status for a period of four years or until the next world cup tournament.

I know what you are thinking, what about the rest? Well, the other 92 try their luck in the next qualification process which you’ve come across here often; the World Cricket League or WCL for short. It consists of five divisions having the grand total of 24 participants (I sense another question, but hold your horses), who have to compete amongst themselves to be promoted or at the very least keep from being relegated from the league. So again, what about the rest? It seems the ICC ranks all the cricket nations based on their finishing position in the most recent qualifying tournament and only 24 get to be in the league of which Uganda is among! Exclusive, right?

Team Uganda In A Recent Match Discussing Strategy

And exclusivity seems to be one of ICC’s strongest features when it come to the World Cup. While other world cup tournaments for sports like soccer have up to 32 participating nations, golf with 28, volleyball with 24, rugby with 20 and even netball with 16 nations and so on ICC only allows tenparticipating nations.

Wait, what?!

Ten nations! The entire process of qualifying for the Cricket World Cup is akin to carrying out a sieve analysis on 20 kilograms of sand using a 0.045mm sieve – annoyingly slow and so selective! And that is not even the half of it. One would assume that, like in Religious Education, participation in the qualification tourneys is either one or or the other. You lose out in one, you try again in four years but it surprisingly doesn’t work that way. Remember that elite group of 16? Those who don’t qualify in the first round actually get another opportunity, while the rest get theirs a lot later – four years later to be exact. Why? How? Maybe looking at how Uganda would qualify could help explain things.

The journey - hypothetically

Uganda is unfortunately out of the running for the next Cricket World Cup, which will take place in 2019. But with the next one being in 2023, the journey has to start now, because as you have probably seen, the competition is stiffer than a board!

Image result for cricket world cup 2019 logo

Important to note, however, is that out of the ten available spots in the Cricket World Cup, eight of them automatically go to the host nation and the seven best teams in the ODI Championship. The remaining four then proceed to the World Cup Qualifier, waiting for the six representatives from the ICC World Cricket League, to compete for the two remaining spots.

Lacking the ODI status, Uganda’s best alternative for qualification would have to be through the World Cricket League but the team has to get to the qualifiers first.

World Cup Qualifiers

Composed of five divisions, only the top four nations in division one and top two in division two of the World Cricket League get to progress into the World Cup Qualifiers. But with Uganda in Division three, the Cricket Cranes have to play through their division’s tournament and emerge in the top two in order to be promoted to Division two. (You can actually catch this particular tournament from 9th – 24th November 2018, in Oman or you can follow @CricketUganda for updates and news regarding this on their social media platforms.)

Coach Jackson and The Boys in Preparations For The WCL Div 3 Spectacle in November

Uganda and the other nation it would be promoted with, say Kenya (EAC patriotism, right?) would then compete with the four teams from the preceding ICC World Cricket League Championship, who are also the top four in Division one, to determine the final two spots in the 2023 World Cup Qualifier. Basically, 24 teams compete for only two World Cup Qualifier spots and aiming for one of two remaining Cricket World Cup slots that they may not even get because four of ODI status nations who already had a chance before, are also gunning for the same!

Just let that sink in for a minute.

With the ten nations determined, the teams would be split into two groups of five each, playing a round robin match. Uganda would then have to finish amongst the top three in their group to be able to proceed to the next round of play known as the Super Six whereby results, net run rates as well as the points attained for the progressing teams are carried forward. The ‘super six’ then play the qualifiers from the other group while those of the bottom two teams in each group are discarded, instead playing for the remaining positions seven to ten. The teams unlucky enough to emerge in the bottom two positions are relegated to WCL Division 2. Imagine having your ODI status stripped away like that - embarrassing.

With the two remaining spots going to the best two teams in the Super Six, of which one would have to belong to the Cricket Cranes. And that friends, is how Uganda would qualify for the Cricket World Cup. But despite all this I found myself down the proverbial rabbit hole, puzzling over some things like, why the rigidity and small numbers at a World Cup? Maybe I will have my answers next week, in my quest to understand the big leagues more.

 

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

Teenage centurion Alungat dreams of playing for Lady Cricket Cranes

For a cricketer, a century is a big milestone for a batsman as is a hat-trick or maiden career wicket for a bowler. At Soroti Light Secondary School, Eunice Alungat is on cloud nine after her first ton.

The teenager now regrets less about giving cricket time after she made 114 runs not out as her side Soroti Challengers bossed opponents JACC enroute a 259-run victory at Jinja Oval on Saturday.
“I felt good,” the 17-year-old said. “…because it had never happened in life to me as a batter,” the right-hander offered.

Alungat only began playing cricket in Senior Two (2015). And that’s the last time a century happened in women’s cricket.
There will be little wonder if Alungat pursues a cricket career after she has completed her Geography, Economics and Art studies next year. “My dream is to play for Uganda’s national team as I am inspired by Joyce Mary Apio and Naome Kayondo,” she says. Kayondo is one of the nine other lady cricketers to ever score a ton in Uganda’s history.

Now opener Alungat will feel she is on the right track after she made 14 boundaries in her knock off 110 balls in 40 overs. “I was patient,” she said. Alungat is the only non-national team player to score a ton, much to her coach Ivan Kakande’s delight.
“She is one of the talented girls in the set-up and a good listener who enjoys the game,” Kakande said of the gem.

 

ALUNGAT AT A GLANCE 
Full name: Eunice Alungat
Date of birth: December 18, 2000
Age: 17
School: Soroti Light SS
Club: Soroti Challengers
Class: Senior 5
Combination: GEA/ICT
Started playing: 2015
Batting style: Right-hand
Bowling: Right-arm slow
Best batting figures: 114 runs not out

By DARREN ALLAN KYEYUNE

Global star Tarrus Riley new Uganda Cricket Ambassador

For American-born Jamaican Tarrus Riley, cricket flows in his blood. Even before he could say anything, the Reggae Artiste was visibly excited to catch some action as Uganda’s African champions played out in a duel dubbed ‘Tarrus Riley Cricket Carnival’ at Lugogo yesterday.
His attention was undivided at the boundary as he got animated between the beautiful shots played and animated wicket celebrations by the girls. And Riley welcomed the appointment as Uganda Cricket Association (UCA)’s new global brand ambassador.
“It is part of me to support young guys and give them a chance and inspiration,” Riley answered when asked on his unrelenting role to lend a hand to several charitable causes across the globe.
“Music and sports rhyme along together. It is a good feeling being in Uganda. Watching the girls play makes me feel joy and for the girls to know someone like me is cheering for them makes them work harder to achieve success. Uganda is just like home and I am having the time of my life.”
Jazz Safari’s Tshaka Mayanja, whose brand sponsors the Men and Women’s National League for the last five years, said Jazz Safari was intent on promoting talent with a special attachment to women’s cricket. 
“We are going to be here for long time in the future and Tarrus (Riley), too.

He is willing to lend a hand in whichever way he can. Uganda cricket can bank on him as they continue to strive for success. We urge you to give back in equal measure by turning up in droves for the Swangz Avenue Concert of The Year here on Friday,” said Mayanja.
UCA Board Women’s Representative Mary Makumbi handed over to the 39-year-old superstar with a Lady Cricket Cranes cap and jersey emblazoned with No.1 for his new role. And then captain Kevin Awino and assistant skipper Janet Mbabazi presented to him the two trophies Uganda won in United Arab Emirates and Windhoek, Namibia, where they won the African title last year.

By INNOCENT NDAWULA & DARREN ALLAN KYEYUNE

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