- Published in International Competitions
There was no wooden spoon for the Baby Cricket Cranes and more importantly no relegation to the Africa Division II as Uganda wrapped up its bittersweet campaign at the International Cricket Council (ICC) Under 19 Africa World Cup Qualifier in Windhoek, Namibia on Sunday.
The last three countries on the log; fiery West Africans Sierra Leone, neighbouring arch-foes Kenya, who were at the last World Cup in 2018 New Zealand and bottom finishers Tanzania will have to go through the ignominy of playing Division II qualifiers next year to earn the right to play at this level again, in 2021.
But that consolation didn’t suffice to the many fans that were pregnant with expectation that this particular generation of U-19s would halt the wait to appear in another World Cup since the 2006 crop that played in the Sri Lanka edition.
It was a little too late for Uganda, even after Uganda mauled Tanzania by 8 wickets with a 226 balls remaining in the last round of this tense, thrilling and action-packed showpiece.
Uganda’s top order batsmen struggled for rhythm early on in the tournament and even when they got starts, they were guilty of not converting.
The only time it happened against Tanzania, coach Jackson Ogwang’s boys steamrolled their opponents Tanzania; making a mockery of their set score of 144 runs by chasing it down in just 12.2 overs.
Zephaniah Arinaitwe, who was the only player with a senior national team cap, oscillated between mediocrity and flashes of brilliance.
A free-scoring stroke maker Arinaitwe primarily held Uganda’s key to progress because of his prior exposure.
When he muscled a 30-ball 69 against Namibia, Uganda were in dreamland but his dismissal at 74 runs in 7.2 overs signaled the end of Uganda’s hunt for the hosts set score of 250.
Against Tanzania in what the Ugandan contingent in Windhoek termed as their ‘grande finale’, Arinaitwe showed his well-documented destructive nature with a 40-ball 102 that was littered with six boundaries and nine beautiful sixes - an innings of super timing.
Uganda’s bowling which will hardly take too much blame on this particular trip; had earlier on held fort. Opening bowler Juma Miyaji returned stellar figures of 3 for 21 in 9.3 overs and captain Frank Akankwasa’s 10-over spell of spin prized out three scalps for a measly 33 runs.
There were more positives for the Baby Cricket Cranes as Tanzania’s batsmen; Ashish Shah (40 off 91) and Aahil Jasani (28 off 56) opted to build a wall of attrition with tournament debutants; Pascal Murungi (aged 14) and Edwin Nuwagaba (aged 15), who is Arinaitwe’s younger brother, respectively snared two wickets and bowled a maiden first over in international cricket with the opponents’ innings ending in 48.3 overs.
Such was Uganda’s final flourish but it was a little too late as it will be Nigeria going to first-ever U-19 World Cup.
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.
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.
Youngster Zephaniah Arinaitwe, playing with a stomach bug, threw caution to the wind and put on a batting masterstroke with a 51-ball ton of 107 runs to ensure Uganda started their three-match 50-over build-up for the International Cricket Council (ICC) World Cricket League (WCL) Division III scheduled for Oman in Novermber on a winning note by six wickets.
The 17-year-old complained of stomach pains in the first innings as he kept wickets - for the second time on this tour - after captain of the day Brian Masaba had lost the toss and been asked to have a bowl.
Arinaitwe handed over the glove-work duties to left-hand opening batsman Simon Ssesazi for the rest of the innings as the hosts Kwazulu Natal Inland Academy set a commanding 269 for 4 in the allotted 50 overs at the Pietermaritzburg City Oval yesterday.
But Arinaitwe returned after the lunch break to open the innings and he batted in a ruthlessness manner - hitting everything in his range enroute to 16 boundaries and four sweetly timed sixes, and by the time he fell Uganda was just 119 runs away from victory at 151 for 2 in 16.3 overs.
“I love scoring quick,” Arinaitwe, in his ever cheerful manner told Daily Monitor.
“Getting these centuries in quick time is what I would love to do for my country always. It gives me great joy to know that I can give my team a chance to win.”
It was St John SS Mukono student’s sixth century of the season that has also seen him notch 197 off 66 balls last month at the Hayer StarField Tournament in Nairobi and a double-century in the Schools Cricket Week Qualifiers - a couple of months ago.
Hamu Kayondo (78 not out off 78) and Riazat Ali Shah (53 off 39) got half centuries during the chase that saw Uganda keep the Academy Boys calm and it was fitting that captain Masaba (4* off 7 balls) got the winning runs.
At the weekend, Uganda wrapped up its Africa T20 Cup campaign with two sensational victories against Western Province and eventual ‘Pool of Death’ winners Easterns in Group A. The team takes some rest today and will be back into the mix for another build up tomorrow.
By Innocent Ndawula
From the highs of bossing the International Cricket Council (ICC) World Twenty20 Africa ‘B’ Qualifier held at Gahanga Stadium, Rwanda in July, the Cricket Cranes have been given a reality check here in South Africa.
Uganda lost only twice in six games at the four-nation showpiece in Kigali enroute to qualifying for the ICC World T20 Africa Qualifier next year then. Fast forward to Pietermaritzburg, Steve Tikolo’s boys had already lost twice from as many games after Day One of the expanded Africa T20 Cup, organised by Cricket South Africa (CSA).
In the 20-run loss to Kwazulu Natal Coastal, the Ugandans were guilty of throwing away momentum while chasing a manageable 163.
From 87 for 3 after 10 overs, Uganda collapsed to 117 for 6 in 16 overs thus managing 30 runs in 6 overs to ‘allow’ the hosts to bounce back into the match and forthwith win it.
In the afternoon game, Uganda suffered a huge 133-run loss to defending champions Kwazulu Natal Inland at the Pietermaritzburg Varsity Oval in what was a listless and insipid show.
Teenager Zephaniah Arinaitwe (35 off 20), on his competitive debut, was one of positive talking points for Uganda as he exhibited flashes of brilliance in an opening partnership with captain Roger Mukasa (24 off 21) of 72 runs in 7 overs.
Uganda will look to end on a high against legendary South African Paul Adams’ Western Province at The Oval in Pietermaritzburg.
KZN Coastal 163/5 Uganda 143/8
Uganda lost by 20 runs
KZN Inland 227/2 Uganda 94/10
Uganda lost by 133 runs
By Innocent Ndawula
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
Olayinka Olaleye was the star, as Nigeria sealed an unbeaten run in the ICC Under 19 World Cup Africa Division Two Qualifier tournament in Potchefstroom on Tuesday.
The opening batsman struck a majestic 110, as he and Samuel Mba 62 put on 148 for the first wicket, and pull his side clear in the final. That alliance was enough to put Nigeria out of sight, as Sierra Leone were overwhelmed by the opening stand, which lasted 34.1 overs. Beyond that opening partnership, only Segun Ogundipe made a meaningful contribution, as Nigeria’s total petered out to 242 for nine, assisted by 21 extras. In response, Sierra Leone served up their worst batting performance of the tournament. They were bundled out for just 105, with skipper George Ngegba fighting a lone battle with 31.
In the battle for the last qualifying spot in Division 1, Tanzania got the better of Mozambique, posting a testing 215 all out. At 89 for five, they had to depend on their middle-order to make the play, and 15 year-old Dhrumit Mehta and Kartik Sayal stepped up. Nigeria and Tanzania now join Uganda, Kenya and Namibia in Africa Division One, who will play their qualifier for the 2010 ICC U-19 World Cup early next year.
Nigeria’s qualification in particular was a reward for their early preparations that saw them camp in Uganda for 10 days despite losing the series 4-1.
DAY THREE RESULTS - SCW