Baby Cricket Cranes after the game against Ghana in the World Cup qualifiers Credit: © Kawowo Sports | AISHA NAKATO
[/media-credit] Steven Wambose batting Credit: © Kawowo Sports | AISHA NAKATO

Uganda was by far the best team at the just concluded Africa Region U19 Cricket World Cup qualifiers held in Nairobi, Kenya.

Uganda scored the most runs of all team totals with a team high of 331 in the first game against Botswana but also registered the lowest total of 60 all out in the second game against Kenya.

The Baby Cricket Cranes survived cold weather to be able to pick up 5 wins out of their 6 games only being edged out at the final hurdle by Kenya on Net Run Rate.

Going into the final game, Uganda had a superior NRR to that of Kenya and the noisy neighbors needed a big win to overcome that deficit. As had been the norm in the previous 5 wins Uganda won the toss and chose to bat first a decision that will forever haunt the young lads.

Ronald Opio went back on a full ball and was trapped LBW for zero Uganda was quickly 3/1. Wambose stuck around with tournament top run getter Zephaniah Katungi but they both looked to survive than score runs before Zephaniah was trapped LBW by the left arm medium pace of Maxwell.

[/media-credit] Ronald Opio Credit: Aisha Nakato

3/1 quickly became 12/4 after Eddie Agaba played one onto his stumps and the reliable Kenneth Waiswa edged to the keeper while trying to run the ball down third man.

In a change of batting order, Nsubuga Sirajje came before the big hitters which seemed a wise move as he dispatched the first ball he faced for 4 with a delightful cover drive.

As Nsubuga looked composed wickets fell around him with Wambose edging behind,  neither Fred Achelam nor Frank Akankwasa troubled the scorers both falling in quick succession.

When Sirajje edged behind for 17 Uganda was stranded on 33/8 but with Richard Agamire and Trevor Bukenya still to bat and all capable with the bat. Rogers Olipa needed able partners and he found one in Richard Agamire and together they dragged Uganda to 60 before Agamire guided one to the man at slip. Olipa didn’t trust his partner and went for a wild swing being the last man out leaving Bukenya stranded one end.

For Kenya to win they needed to get 61 in 9.2 Overs and they did so in 8.3 Overs.

Despite the bowling efforts of Trevor Bukenya and Captain Kenneth Waiswa, they couldn’t stop the Kenyans from going after them. Kenya snatching a win they least expected.

Uganda missing out on its 3rd U19 World Cup appearance after featuring in 2004 and 2006 editions.

Tournament in numbers

Kenneth Waiswa walked away with the MVP Award for his 249 runs and 11 wickets while Zephaniah Katungi was the best batsman after piling up 281 runs which included 34 fours and a six.

[/media-credit] Kenneth Waiswa receiving his MVP Award. Credit: © Kawowo Sports | AISHA NAKATO

Trevor Bukenya was the best bowler for team Uganda picking up 14 wickets. He sent down 35 Overs the most for any of the bowlers and if it wasn’t for the hip injury which meant missing the Botswana game he would have walked away as the best bowler.

Rogers Olipa had a tournament high of 9 sixes and also the highest strike rate of 132. He scored 126 runs in 3 innings and his fireworks helped Uganda reach 60 in the final game.

All in all Uganda had 8 half centuries with Kenneth Waiswa contributing 3 of those, Ronald Opio faded in the latter stages but scored 2 half centuries with Olipa, Eddie Agaba, Stephen Wambose and Frank Akankwasa scoring one each.

Uganda scored a total of 1233 runs with Zephaniah Katungi with a top score of 139 off 127 balls. Uganda also picked up 47 wickets out of an available 60 wickets in their 6 matches. Uganda also bowled out all its opponents in 5 games and only failing to bowl out Kenya in the final game.

[/media-credit] Zephaniah Katungi receiving the best batsman award at the U19 World Cup Qualifiers closing dinner Credit: © Kawowo Sports | AISHA NAKATO

Reaction from the Captain

Kenneth Waiswa spoke to Kawowo Sports about what exactly happened, how the team moves on, his MVP award and the future with national team.

I couldn’t even believe till now that we didn’t make it to the World Cup yet we were almost there. I can’t tell what happened that day with the boys I really can’t tell.

Yes, I think it wasn’t our time to go and play in the World Cup yet we had all what we needed to go there. The boys played good and fantastic cricket, they wanted what they were doing and that made things go the way we wanted in the first five games of the tournament.

This has shocked us, broken us because we had put in all our best and played our hearts out but miracles do happen… Kenya now believes that miracles do happen after that.

We played cricket which I haven’t seen before at our level – U19 level. Playing out the 50 overs comfortably and putting on good scores this made me happy and I know if we keep working hard and listening to instructions, we gonna play cricket more that this time to come for Uganda. We missed a life time opportunity but I think it wasn’t our time to go to the World Cup.

Most of the boys will be available for the next qualifiers and it’s unfortunate that I won’t be part of that team.

I know what they have gone through it has given us a lesson and we have carried the positives from this tournament and also the negatives going to work on both of them to perfect where we went wrong and strengthen where we did good.

It means a lot to me coming out of the tournament being named player of the tournament. I am happy for that but I would be more happier if we came back champions. It’s my first international trophy and it means a lot to me and it will keep me working hard looking to having more of those when time comes for the national side.

I am ready to be up there and rock shoulders with the big boys and am not going to sit back and relax am going to work hard than ever before so that I earn a call for the national side.

[/media-credit] Kenya surprising qualified for the U19 World Cup ahead of Uganda Credit: © Kawowo Sports | AISHA NAKATO

Uganda finished second to eventual winners Kenya, Ghana was 3rd and Botswana finished in 4th place.

Uganda will have to wait another 2 years before trying again for a chance to represent Africa at the Junior World Cup.

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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