Lawrence Mahatlane Credit: Edgar Hamala

There was no ball bowled for the 2020 National League for both men and women mostly due to reasons beyond the control of Uganda Cricket.

The ban on sports caught cricket offside as they were yet to start their calendar activities for 2020. Apart from the U19 girls’ tournament in Kampala with Tanzania and the men’s annual tour to India and Qatar, there was nothing much to write about cricket in 2020.

Uganda missed out on hosting two international tournaments that included the second round of the Challenge League B in August and the T20 finals qualifiers in November, both would have been great adverts for Uganda Cricket.

However, Uganda Cricket made a big effort off the pitch to make sure the game stays connected with its followers. UCA is one of the few sports entities that made sure its players are taken care of throughout the offseason with a monthly stipend paid to players both men and women as well as provision of food items to its long list of volunteers.

Online sessions were organized for players to educate them about financial management and career development. A month long session was organized for cricket officials and umpires on how to develop cricket careers as officials with one of the sessions being conducted by South African test umpire Alauddin Paleker.

Cricket Cranes head coach Lawrence Mahatlane during an interview with Kawowo Sports | Credit: Edgar Hamala

The Cricket Cranes also got a new coach in Lawrence Mahatlane from South Africa who started work with the side while away in South Africa, the former South Africa U19 coach flew into the country in October and has already started work ahead of a busy 2021. The goal is to achieve ODI status by 2023.

Uganda Cricket Association in one of its biggest scoops was getting in partnership with Equity Sports a partnership that has the latter offering mentorship and sports science services to Uganda Cricket. Edgar Kazibwe started working with the different national teams to prepare them mentally for the road ahead. In this part of the world sports science is still considered as an expense and sports organizations would rather save money than spend money on it. Partnerships like these go a long way and ensuring that sports organizations can prepare their players mentally for international sports that is cut throat.

Upon uplifting the ban on sports the men’s and women’s elite league took center stage, cricket was able to put off these two events within the new SOPs for sports with players put in a bubble for the duration of the tournament. Both events had a live stream something that shows that cricket is ready to live within the new normal.

There was little to see amongst the players for who stood out and who needs to improve their cricket but as we ease back into reality focus is on the cricket cranes, U19 boys and Lady Cricket Cranes. All three national teams have big qualifier events in 2021 that will determine the fate of cricket going forward.

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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