The Cricket Cranes team is in a phase as one generation of superstars is starting to give away for another.
Roger Mukasa, for a long time, has been the leader of a generation, a burden that has weighed so heavy him. Mukasa has done justice to his talent and has given everything for the yellow and red Cricket Cranes jersey.
Mukasa is a role model for many in the new generation and we profile some of these rising stars of the Cricket Cranes.
Zepha, as he is popularly known by his peers, is one of the most naturally gifted players. He grew up with a tennis racket in his hands and was destined for the top as a tennis player but fell in love with cricket. Zepha is blessed with natural clean hitting ability. His love for scoring big runs has seen him dominate his generation as the best batsman and the go-to man for runs. He has hard a few chances with the senior side but is yet to show his talent at the highest level. For him to fulfil his potential, he will need time to allow him to make a few mistakes and learn from them. He is also a very good fielder and can bowl some tidy off-spinners.
Akankwasa is the standout leader of the next generation. His ability to think about the game compliments his skills as a bowling all-rounder. He has captained the U-19 side at a major tournament and the sky is the limit for him. He did well on his debut tour to Qatar and India showing his full skills as a reliable bowler and finisher of games.
A gem out of the rough, Bukenya has masted an art that is lost on many upcoming young fast bowlers. Bukenya is a gifted swing bowler who has perfected the art in conditions that don’t give him an advantage. His progress was hampered by school responsibilities but now that he is done with his high school studies, he should be able to continue his progression. He will definitely be a star for the team in the future.
The quiet youngster didn’t earn the nickname ‘Olipa’s Killer’ for nothing. He goes about his business in a quiet manner but he is one of the best all-rounders of his generation. He’s a very tidy medium-pacer who has the ability to move the ball both ways, mixing it up with slower balls. His greatest attribute should be his calmness and his influence on a group makes him a very addition to any team.
Agamire burst onto the scene in a scene at the first round of the Challenge League in Oman but he had been putting in the hard yards. He worked on his game to improve his accuracy as a front line bowler and someone who can be relied on to bowl in the death overs. He got his opportunity with the senior side and took it with both hands showing that he has the attitude to belong with the big boys.
Left-hand players are a rare breed and Wabwose just needs the opportunity to step up from just being average. He is a natural wicket-keeper and a terrific top-order batsman. He only needs to find a team where he takes most of the responsibility to help him develop his game. His left-hand option can be a great addition to the Cricket Cranes.
Watuwa is one of those talents out of Jinja. He is a very good batsman and off-spinner. Since he moved to Kampala for his undergraduate, he has trained with the national team that has helped him improve on his skills. If he can stay long in the national team set up he can become a reliable player for the side.
Kiiza converted to cricket from baseball a few years ago but his progression has been fast. He used his baseball skills to turn into a hard-hitting batsman and a medium pacer. His dedication to the game earned him a call up to the senior side on the tour to India.
Nicknamed “The President” by his peers, Baguma is one of the talents coming out of the Nyakasura conveyor belt. Baguma is a very competent off-spinner with a big heart for a man his age. A fearless youngster, he also bats in the top order and fields within the inner ring.
Murungi is another one from the Nyakasura conveyor belt. He is very accurate as medium-pacer and also a decent batsman. He has had the opportunity of having good people around him especially Ivan Thawithemwira to guide his development.
Nuwagaba was clearly influenced by his elder brother Zephaniah Arinaitwe to pick up the game. He is a very good all-rounder who bowls off-spin and also bats in the middle order. Nuwagaba and Baguma are the future and it won’t be a surprise for them to team up in the future, bowling for the Cricket Cranes.
Wazombe has the character to face hostile bowling attacks as an opening batsman. He has an appetite for big runs a character trait that should help me develop as a player.
Kakuru improved his cricket when he went to Busoga College Mwiri. He is a batsman wicket-keeper. He is a little rough around the edges but has something a coach can work with.
Another gem out of Jinja, Obuya is the definition of hard work pays. He worked hard on his game and his change of address from Jinja to Kampala exposed him to coaches that have helped him advance his game. He is a typical batsman which is a rare skill in a generation full of all-rounders.
Wabwire was the quickest bowler in Ugandan cricket and if it wasn’t for medical school, the Cricket Cranes would have a potent opening bowler. His studies have stopped his development and you wonder if he will still be good enough once he is done with the medical school in a few years’ time. He is a big lover of the game and if he looks after himself, he should be able to give a few more years of cricket left in him.
There are other youngsters who deserve a mention such as Collins Okwalinga, Ronald Opio, Ramathan Ochimi, Simon Oketcho, Innocent Mwebaze, and Joseph Byaruhanga.