Immaculate Nakisuyi batting against Zimbabwe during the Tri-Series in 2019 Credit: John Batanudde

In naming my all-time Lady Cricket Cranes team early this week, I highlighted mostly players who featured for the national side at the start of international cricket for the Ugandan ladies.

While the men had featured on the international scene since the early 1980s, it was not until 2001 that the Lady Cricket Cranes got a taste of international cricket. The lack of international cricket meant many good girls were caught in the bubble of life, choosing to move with their lives rather than wait for cricket to offer choices.

The new generation, however, has been fortunate enough to get a lot of international cricket in ICC or Regional Events. It’s with this generation that Uganda was able to be the become queens of African cricket as they toppled other nations because of a vibrant school program for girls cricket.

Jinja SSS led the course for ladies cricket with Habib Mugalula helping many girls improve their skills and now, Soroti Academy is the resource in producing ladies’ talent.

Here are girls who have stood out in the new generation.

1. Immaculate Nakisuyi

Immaculate Nakisuyi batting against Zimbabwe during the Tri-Series at Lugogo Credit: John Batanudde

Nakisuyi has been the x-factor for the Lady Cricket Cranes for the last three years. Since she burst on the scene as a youngster with Jinja SSS, Nakisuyi established herself as a game-changer. Her ability to hit sixes – a rarity in the ladies’ game – gave her the x-factor needed to change a team’s chances from losing to winning. She is a handy bowler but her batting ability is what gets Nakisuyi ahead of her peers.

2. Susan Nampiina

Nampiina is the only leg spinner in the ladies game, a rare skill to master. Nampiina horned her skills under Habib Mugalula at Jinja SSS and she became the go-to wicket-taker for the Lady Cricket Cranes. She is also a very agile fielder for the team with a commanding presence at point. The shy Nampiina is also a reliable middle-order batsman who can hit the ball far, no surprises she is close to Immaculate Nakisuyi.

3. Rita Musamali

Rita Musamali batting for Aziz Damani Credit: Cricket Uganda

The top all-rounder for the Lady Cricket Cranes now opens the bowling for the team and is also among the top three batters for the team. The girl from the hills of Sironko is not afraid to put her body on the line for the team, always digging deep for her runs and also fighting hard in the field. Musamali is another of Habib Mugalula’s proteges and she has more than given her best for the team. A first-year student at University, Musamali still has some more years with the Lady Cricket Cranes.

4. Naomi Kayondo

Naomi Kayondo batting against Zimbabwe during the Tri-Series at Lugogo Credit: Cricket Uganda

Naomi Kayondo has fought a lone battle as an outsider given she’s not from a popular cricket school. She has worked hard on her game and is one of the finest batsmen for the Lady Cricket Cranes. A natural athlete, Kayondo is a marvel with the bat given her wide range of shot-making. She has also proven that you can have a successful career while also playing cricket at the highest level. An ECB Level 2 coach and the founder of Little Stumps Academy, Kayondo will clearly stay in cricket even after her playing days are over.

5. Janet Mbabazi

Janet Mbabazi Credit: Cricket Uganda

Janet Mbabazi is one of the first products of the Soroti Cricket Academy. Her all-round qualities have made her a reliable player for the Lady Cricket Cranes. She was able to fill the void left following the departure of Gertrude Candiru from the side. The multi-talented Mbabazi has also featured at the Softball World Cup and is also a fine footballer. She is also a very good leader of teams and knows how to read the game of cricket.

6. Rachel Ntono

Rita Musamali of Jinja SS fails to run out Rachel Ntono of Olila High in the final of the ladies T20 league. Credit: Courtesy

In the T20 era, every side needs a player like Rachel Ntono who has the ability to score runs fast in the power play. Another product of Jinja and Habib Mugalula, Ntono is always quick to get the team out of the blocks and she has become a reliable player for the side.

7. Damalie Busingye

Damalie Busingye batting against Zimbabwe at Lugogo Credit: John Batanudde

Damalie Busingye is one of the most technically gifted players in the ladies’ game. Busingye has a poise of a content batsman and she compliments Ntono’s power game when they open batting together. She has the knack to bat from the first ball to the last ball.

8. Joyce Mary Apio

A product of the Soroti Cricket Academy, very shy and humble, Apio only loses herself while bowling. She is fast enough to frighten fellow girls which gives her the edge to pick a lot of wickets. She is very down to earth girl, an attitude that has allowed her to improve her game since she came to study in Kampala.

9. Kevin Awino

Kevin Awino and Consy Aweko

The current captain of the Lady Cricket Cranes is ever-present on the field as a wicketkeeper. She is reliable behind the stumps a position she has made her own for a long time now. She is a very tidy batsman especially for her league side and sometimes for the national team once it is required.

10. Esther Ilokur

Ilokur is the future of the Lady Cricket Cranes from Soroti Cricket Academy. She captained the U19 side to a series win against Tanzania early this year and she is surely on the way up. Once Kevin Awino doesn’t have time to keep wickets for Uganda, Ilokur will surely do justice to the position. She won the young female cricketer of the year for 2018 and her star will definitely shine very bright.

11. Prosociva Alako

Proscovia Alako is one half of the record of the only 300 score in ladies’ cricket in T20 international cricket. Alako is a powerful hitter of the ball and although she is yet to feature for the Lady Cricket Cranes in an ICC event, she will definitely be an asset for the team in the future.

12. Leona Babirye

The twin is a fine accumulator of runs especially for her club Pioneer but a national team cap continues to elude her. However, she is a gifted batsman with impeccable timing due to her softball background.

13. Evelyn Anyipo

Evelyn Anyipo Credit: John Batanudde

Evelyn Anyipo is blessed with a height of a fast bowler and has used that reach to send down some fast stuff. Although she has not had a proper crack with the Lady Cricket Cranes, as long as she stays fit she cannot be ignored for long.

Other Prospects

There are some exciting girls coming out of the Soroti Cricket Academy and featured for the U19 girls’ team. Remember these names; Sarah Akiteng, Gloria Obukor, Kevin Amuge, Rachael Achan, Mary Akello and Christine Anayo. The other girls to look out for are; Maria Kagoya Nyende, Sarah Walaza and Susan Kakai, all from Jinja.

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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