Women’s Cricket in Uganda started in the early 2000s with the Lady Cricket Cranes first international tournament played in 2001 in Dar es Salaam, and it featured Kenya, Uganda and hosts Tanzania.
Since then, the global growth of the game has ensured the development of the Lady Cricket Cranes with their highest success coming in 2017 when they were crowned African Champions in Namibia after defeating favourites Zimbabwe in the final.
However, for ladies, their longevity in the game is very short with life decisions especially family life cutting short their careers.
The jury is out on who would make the best XI to have played for the Lady Cricket Cranes and we shall focus more on past players.
1. Christine Jane Aryemo
Uganda ladies cricket G.O.A.T, Aryemo could do everything. She was a very strong batter, could bowl some spin and also keep wickets. She is famous for being the first lady to score a century in local cricket.
Aryemo was also the ultimate team player with team needs coming before her own success. Like most girls, it was impossible to find the balance necessary to keep playing while holding down a job and finding time for her family. Her experience would have been very important to the Lady Cricket Cranes in these competitive times.
2. Barbara Mukakunsi
If longevity in the ladies game was a person then it has to be Mukakunsi. While most players have not returned after having children, Mukakunsi once batted for her club (Pioneer) in a league game when she was six months pregnant. A batsman wicket-keeper, Mukakunsi has also captained the Lady Cricket Cranes on a number of occasions. She still plays for her local club (Pioneer) and is available for national team engagements when needed.
3. Stella Atim
Very few people know Atim only because she was very quiet with most of the talking done by her bat or ball. Atim is one of the best all-rounders to have featured for the Lady Cricket Cranes. Unfortunately, during her time there were very few international tournaments but she was reliable for the national team whenever they had engagements.
4. Gertrude Candiru
Candiru a more recent star was also one of the best all-rounders for the Lady Cricket Cranes. She used to bowl some gentle but effective medium pace but her biggest strength was her ability to close out games at the back end of innings. She had a wide hitting range with the ability to go big when necessary or find singles if the bowling is tight. In the 2017 swansong in Namibia, Candiru was voted tournament MVP and also won the 2017 Female Cricketer Of the Year as voted by USPA.
5. Franklyn Najjumba
Najjumba is still active with the Lady Cricket Cranes but we will talk about the Franklyn of yesteryears. Najjumba and Aryemo formed the backbone of the Lady Cricket Cranes for a long period of time especially before the evolution of the ladies’ game. She was very strong and pacey opening bowler but also a very powerful hitter down the order. The mention of her name always sent shivers down the spines of the Kenyan ladies.
6. Consy Aweko
Aweko is another active player but she has been around for a long time. The Franco of Ladies Cricket for not only having a similar style of bowling but also her efficiency. She has been the Lady Cricket Cranes go-to player for a long time and she will surely bowl dots for the team for a long time. She has with time improved her batting and can score some valuable runs down the order.
7. Flavia Laker
Another very good all-rounder, Laker was part of the successful Kololo SSS sides that dominated the Girls’ Cricket Week. She started out as a very mean medium pacer but would later work on her batting and turned into a reliable batter.
8. Carol Namugenyi
Namugenyi last featured for the Lady Cricket Cranes at the Global Qualifiers of the Women’s Cricket World Cup in the Netherlands but due to work commitments, she has not found time for the game.
Namugenyi was a mean machine with the ball in hand and hardly gave away anything. Her level of accuracy always gave the team the boost it needed at the start of innings as she created pressure that other bowlers exploited to take wickets.
9. Mary Nanderenga Makumbi
She was one of the pioneer Lady Cricket Cranes players and most definitely the finest wicket-keeper to ever play for the ladies. Nanderenga was gifted with great hands and a very natural style behind the stumps. Nanderenga complimented her wicket-keeping with runs as she was a very reliable top-order batter.
10. Mackenzie Ayato
With a spring in her run-up, Ayato had a swagger as a cricketer. Mackenzie was one of the fastest bowlers in the ladies’ game and she evoked fear in her opponents.
11. Justine Musubika
Musubika, a sister to famous cricket brother Charles Waiswa and Fred Isabirye, was a gem of a bowler. She was one of the girls who could swing the ball in ladies’ cricket and she was so accurate with her inswingers. Musubika was also a very reliable team member who made contributions in the field as well as with the bat.
12. Lydia Bakumpe
Bankumpe was the most conventional batter on the Lady Cricket Cranes. Blessed with a great technique, Bakumpe had the ability to bat for long – a rare trait among ladies. She later managed the Lady Cricket Cranes between 2017 and 2018.
There are players who didn’t get to play for the Lady Cricket Cranes or had short stints but are worthy mentions.
Jackie Nakitto: A product of Gayaza High School, Nakitto bowled with fire and was dead accurate. Unfortunately, there were limited opportunities for the ladies those days and the world missed her bowling.
Emily Nankumba: The fastest girl to ever bowl for the Lady Cricket Cranes. She was very fast for girls but also fast enough to trouble the boys.
Belinda Maska: One of the pioneers of the ladies game, Maska was an amazing player but spent most of her productive years playing for the Kenyan ladies.
Belinda Lutaaya: The first captain of the Lady Cricket Cranes was a very good all-rounder but was limited by opportunities to compete.