I just finished watching the famous “Last Dance” documentary about the successful Chicago Bulls team led by Micheal Jordan. MJ, as he is popularly known, had standards so high that he had no limits. Once he got going, Jordan wanted nothing less than being the best. It reminded me of my personal cricket GOAT, Kenneth Kamyuka.
I joined Busoga College Mwiri in 1999 and I found out cricket was the most popular sport at the school, not the usual football. I like football but cricket grew on me and from Senior One, I was among those kids who hang around cricketers. Our main job was to pack the kit after the big boys were done, carry the mat to the middle of the wicket, put in the stumps and watch practice.
At that time, some of the best cricketers in Uganda – Junior Kwebiiha, Kenneth Legesi and Richard Kaijuka – were still in Mwiri. However, everyone kept telling us to wait for the real deal, Kenneth Kamyuka, who would be joining in Form 5 and when he joined, we realized why everyone was waiting for him.
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Myuks, as he was popularly known, was the ultimate crowd puller like Kevin Pietersen was for England. It doesn’t matter what kind of cricket, Myuks playing would always draw crowds. Whether he was playing “wembley” for his house presidents or representing the school team, Myuks was a marvel. I think he also loved the attention and that spurred him on to do well and like a true legend, he was leading from the front. In simple games, he would ask all junior players to be on his team while the more senior players play against us. His instructions to us were always simple and crystal clear; “make sure you only run twos”. Once you get tired, he would ask another person to come. Our innings would end when he is out so most times in a total score of 90 he would have scored 89. When we would take the field, he would bowl out the other team all by himself and the only runs they would get would be from another bowler.
The first time we saw Myuks playing for the school team, his brother Ivan Kamyuka led Kiira College Butiiki to the hill. That same day we were doing an Agriculture test in the dinning but kept an eye on proceedings on the ground, we mumbled through the test until Kamyuka walked on to bat. He hit his first ball for six and that was signal for time for the whole class. We ran out of the dinning hall to just make sure the ball is returning quickly when its hit to the bush. Myuks scored a glorious 99 if I remember correctly, and ofcourse Butiiki lost terribly with Myuks among the wicket takers.
From the time I was in school, I remember Myuks as a real hard nut but he loved the underdogs. We benefited from being on his team winning games we should have not but because of him, we did. One of the things that turned him off was mediocrity, Myuks hated average skills and everyone had to raise their game if you were to play with him. Just a sign to show poor running between wickets was enough to send you off. His all or nothing attitude made sure the team was always performing at its best.
When he left Mwiri, he went on to be a star for the Cricket Cranes scoring the fastest century in ICC events for Uganda against Malaysia in Canada in 2001. That 100 off 53 balls will live long in the memories of many. We were privileged that he coached us in 2003 and 2004 winning the Cricket Week both times as his captain. I collided with him once before a game against Jinja SSS when he asked us to bat but I felt we should have fielded 1st. I was angry when I went out to bat and I lost my wicket on the first ball to Charles Waiswa but due to weather factors, we actually lost that game, a thriller of a game. So I guess I was right? It was the only game we lost for those two years but that was a lesson for me as well.
His attitude was fearless. At a very young age, Myuks knew what he wanted and he was a super confident person. Even with all his talent, Myuks was a hard worker, he would never ask of you what he couldn’t do. He also respected those in authority everyone knew him in school but he would tuck in his white shirt and attend class. He never asked to bowl to him when it was class time, even if he barked at you during a game, he was cool immediately. A candid man as a coach, he served only raw sauce and truth. He boldly told you if you were not good enough or needed to improve somewhere. A real gem of a cricketer, we didn’t see enough of his shine due to factors out of his control but a wonderful mate.