During the 2017 World Cricket League in Kampala, Deus Muhumuza celebrated so early after taking a catch and unfortunately, it dropped down and the carnage Rizwan Cheema served after deflated the whole Cricket Cranes squad, ultimately losing the game and thereafter Uganda never recovered from that loss the whole tournament.
Muhumuza still gets stick for that catch from fans but I felt for him. Most of those things happen to us but unfortunately for him, it was in a very packed Lugogo Cricket Oval. As a player, I would not throw shade to Deus considering what happened to him could easily have been myself especially since they had to face back to back games and he needed to have a shoulder to lean on.
Cricket is such a mentally draining game that your head needs to be in the correct mindset to perform optimally. Imagine you are facing a terrifying fast bowler, you have to worry about your feet if they are moving correctly, you owe the landlord two months’ rent and your girlfriend isn’t replying to your text messages. These are kinds of battles that go through the minds of batsmen and without the proper mental preparation for games, they will fail to perform.
As natural athletes, we always think we are strong enough to survive anything but that is not the case in the long run. Losing a crucial game affects each one of us the same, and the difference is always in mental preparation.
Former Cricket Cranes Captain Davis Karashani always said the moment Uganda loses the first game in a tournament, the ability of the team to bounce back from a defeat is nonexistent. For a long time, we could never defeat Kenya even when we seemed to have a better team than them, there was a time when Ugandan teams would crumble under a spell of spin bowling.
These are areas where a team psychologist comes into play. We once had a chat while in Namibia with a Sports Psychologist who said we spend 5 days of the week working on 10% of the game but just one day on the 90% of the game and the results will be obvious.
The mental preparation of players is now a necessity and not a luxury. For teams like the Cricket Cranes that compete in the World Cricket League for a chance to play in the World Cup, every game they play is like a final and a single loss can take them back light-years.
We have a very gifted team in terms of natural talents and mental preparation should help them excel more at the world stage. I may have spoken only from the boys perspective but this cuts across to even include the girls.
The partnership UCA has forged with EquitySports is a genius move in helping players excel. The demands on them from fans are unforgiving with WhatsApp groups very alive when the team loses.
Player health in the modern day has gone past just good feeding to now include taking care of players’ state of mind. Edgar Kazibwe will have his hand full putting in place a sports science structure but he should know he is walking into a place that is desperate for his services so he will have a lot of goodwill.