Cricket Cranes have been relegated to Division 4 after the loss to USA Credit: © Kawowo Sports | AISHA NAKATO
[/media-credit] Cricket Cranes Credit: © Kawowo Sports | AMINAH BABIRYE

Oman emerged champions of the Division III World Cricket League that concluded on Tuesday evening at Lugogo Cricket Oval.

Uganda was hosting a tournament of this magnitude for the first time and kudos to the local organizing committee for having no security incidents.

The week-long tournament however didn’t go according to script for the Cricket Cranes. Before the tournament the Cricket Cranes were hailed as the kings of Division III and were seeded as the top team.

Their first 3 games were against some of the best teams in tour 6 nation tournament, lost two (to Canada and Oman) and won one. No surprises that Canada and Oman got promoted to Division II as runners up and winners respectively.

Uganda had 2 options to either gain promotion to Division 2 or at least remain in Division 3 but relegation was never an option. However, out of the 5 round robin games Uganda only won 2 games against Malaysia and Singapore losing to eventual winners Oman, runners Canada and the USA.

The huge crowds that followed Uganda no matter where they played were hugely disappointed especially after the USA game. Uganda conspired to lose a game they should have won failing to chase down 145 runs.

Chairman of the selection committee Benjamin Musoke has been under fire from all corners from the cricket fraternity and most were calling for his resignation. However, he urged the fraternity to be realistic in their expectation as most of the players on the 14 have been the best in our league in the recent past.

The harsh reality is Uganda was no match for the other countries especially Oman and Canada who seemed to be well grilled and prepared. The skill levels of these players was very superior to that of the players on the Ugandan team.

Most opening bowlers were fierce, hard bounce and the spinners were all very dynamic in their armory. The batsmen were able to bat to plans and also follow team strategy. On the other hand Uganda looked all over the place, failing to be consistent in team selection on match days, dropping catches and poor shot execution.

A lot of time has passed since the last Division 3 tournament in Malaysia, most of the competition is catching up with Uganda especially in terms of skills. Nearly all teams had non indigenous players with only Uganda having a majorly native team which might be some food for thought for the UCA hierarchy. Its about time we change with change before change changes us by force.

What went wrong?

Despite all these, Uganda has always found a way around these hurdles but now the mistakes made were too amateur. From a Uniform that failed to connect with the fans to questionable selection decisions. Arnold Otwani who looked liked the only top order batsman willing to score some runs was in and out of the team eventually going AWOL after the Malaysia game.

Uganda went into the tournament without a proper wicket keeper for a team that relied a lot on spin bowling. Otwani was penciled in for the first 2 games then Lawrence Ssematimba was recalled for the 3rd game but got injured halfway and Naeem Bardai was called to keep wickets in the last group game. Uganda has a history of producing great wicket keepers like Kenneth Legesi, Davis Turinawe, wicket keepers just like goalkeepers can win a lot of games for teams.

The team also lacked a proper number 3 batsman with Afridi tried on a couple of times as well as Brian Masaba, Roger Mukasa who has scored the bulk of Uganda’s runs in previous qualifiers never got going at number 4 as his natural attack instinct never kicked in. The batsmen always left a lot of work for the tail with only Roger Mukasa scoring a half century in the game against Oman among the top order.

Uganda’s bowling wasn’t typically bad  but it was never properly backed up in the field. Uganda missed a lots of half chances in the field especially behind the stumps.

Bottom line our inability to bat with responsibility cost Uganda its Division 3 status. If a team cant chase down 145 runs then there is something wrong. On various cricket groups people are asking UCA to fire the coach but it might not be a case of bad results that will lead to his dismissal but finances to keep him here.

[/media-credit] Cricket Cranes coach Steve Tikolo Credit: AISHA NAKATO

It might also mean the end of the end for some players with people asking for young players to be fast tracked into the national team set up. Most of the players Uganda has relied on for a long time didn’t turn up and this might have been an encore for them.

This tournament has given Uganda a rude awakening about the quality needed to succeed at the international level. The current set up cannot produce an international cricketer as the league is too amateur to help our players improve their skills.

The Ansasira led board will have a lot of soul searching to do as our current system needs a reboot. This will be the first test of their time in office as they forge a way forward for the cricket cranes.

How did the players rate in the tournament?

1. Hamu Kayondo 5/10

Hamu Kayondo was culpable for going for a slog in the game against the USA. Kayondo was playing in his first major tournament at home and he looked mature compared to his partner. He has a lot of potential and his brave knocks against Singapore and Oman are testament to this ability. Hamu has a very good brain and only needs to work hard on his skill set to survive at the top level. He played all five games for Uganda while opening the batting.

2. Arthur Kyobe 4/10

Arthur Kyobe talks a big game but a big knock for Uganda has eluded him for a long time. Kyobe had a poor tournament. He was supposed to be the mature one of the opening pair but he failed to live up to the occasion eventually losing his place in the side.

3. Roger Mukasa 6/10

Roger Mukasa is supposed to be the poster boy of the team but he always looks over whelmed by the baggage. He pops up everywhere on the field if he isn’t bowling he is saving a boundary plus he has to score runs for the team. He made crucial break through with the ball and his half century against Oman while wickets fell around him was a class act. However, a lot is expected of him especially from his bat but the inability of our top order to give him good starts meant that he had to score runs even for those that have failed.

4. Shahzad Kamal 6/10

Shahzad Kamal was very average largely due to fitness. He looked very unfit and would tire while in the middle. However, his fate was the same as that suffered by Roger Mukasa as they always had to dig deep and score runs for a top order that would never hold. He showed glimpses of his quality with the partnership with Irfan Afridi and his 46 against Singapore.

5. Davis Karashani 6/10

Davis Karashani as a player did what was expected of him. Karashani was tidy in his bowling and he batted okay. However, his role in team selection is the key question regarding how much influence he had in it. The jury is out on whether he will stay on and play but he didn’t give away much in the press conference about his future.

6. Brian Masaba 6/10

Brian Masaba raised some doubts among the fans in regards to why he didn’t play the first 3 games. He was a straight shoot out with Deus Muhumuza for the all rounder slot but even when Muhumuza didn’t play Masaba never got a chance. When he did, he showed why he should have played as he bowled a tidy spell against Malaysia and took a blinder in the USA game.

7. Frank Nsubuga 4/10

Frank Nsubuga, one of the longest serving players on the national team, was as expected a great bowling asset. He was also very handy in the field cutting off boundaries and taking catches. However as a an all rounder Franco failed with the bat, his slog against USA summed up the loss of his prowess as a slogger. Uganda needed Franco in that game but he never showed up.

8. Charles Waiswa 6/10

Wai as he is popularly known did as expected of him. Waiswa was one of the most fired up players for the tournament and he gave his all. It might not have been enough but Wai showed effort. He was okay with the ball despite a few misplaced balls but in all he gave his best effort.

9. Jonathan Ssebanja 4/10

Ssebanja missed out on the first 2 games because of team combinations but when he got his chance he was way below par. He hardly hit a ball and when he did he could only manage a catch against Oman when he scored 9 off 60 balls. His last over against USA propelled them from 120 to 145 as Hutchinson hit him all over the park. With his potential Ssebanja can tear a cricket ball but he never showed any of that in the tournament.

10. Deus Muhumuza 5/10

Deus Muhumuza played only two games in which he did no damage to his reputation. He will be haunted by that dropped catch against Canada but he had actually taken the catch. Only the technical committee can explain his exclusion for the rest of the games but his agility in the field was missed in the other games.

11. Henry Ssenyondo 7/10

Henry Ssenyondo was exceptional with the ball. He was vvery tidy in his spells and if it wasn’t for lack of a wicket keeper he would have picked up more wickets. He was culpable on a couple of occasions for dropping catches but none the less he fulfilled his role on the team.

12. Arnold Otwani 7/10

Otwani will only be judged as a batsman, wicket keeping wasn’t his duty as most times he looked like he was running out players and not stumping them. He scored a brisky 47 against Singapore and also batted well against Malaysia but somehow he was never a starter eventually missing out the whole tournament because of disciplinary issues. Otwani is one for the future but he needs to look after himself well to last long in the game.

13. Lawrence Ssematimba 4/10

There were doubts about his fitness and it showed when he pulled something in the game against Malaysia. His glove work was tidy but for a man with huge potential Ssematimba is better than 1 run in 2 games.

14. Irfan Afridi 8/10

The only good thing in a poor campaign, Afridi became the poster boy of the Cricket Cranes scoring an unbeaten century against Malaysia. He picked 2 Man of Match awards in both games won by Uganda. He gave skipper Davis Karashani a different dimension while bowling and also stood up when asked to bat high up the order for the team.

15. Naeem Bardai 5/10

Naeem was brought in as a late replacement for Lawrence and with Otwani AWOL the team needed a wicket keeper. In the one game he played he scored 32 and was okay with the gloves. It will be harsh to judge him based on one game.

Denis has represented Uganda in international cricket events including the World Cup. He is currently the captain of Wanderers Cricket Club.

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