In December 2017, all eyes were on Uganda as world cricket stars jetted into Kampala for the Afro T20 Cricket Festival.

A brainchild of Australian based Indians, the T20 league had attracted Test Players such as Pedro Collins from West Indies, Saed Ajmal from Pakistan with some other top players such as William Perkins, Hassan Raja from Pakistan, and UAE’s Abdul Shakoor who is currently playing in the Abu Dhabi T10.

The local talent was not left out with all top players given franchise sides each place in a franchise coming with a good payday.

However, the local players who were anxious to see some action were only limited to the warm-up games with the main event stopped in its tracks due to lack of No Objection Certificates (NOC) from the international players. It’s a very important requirement that ICC gives the blessing to any tournament that attracts more than three international players.

Roger Mukasa batting during a warm-up game Credit: Eddie Galiwango

The failure to get a single ball in the main event hurt players a lot considering the quality of talent that had been assembled.

Kenyan international Gagandeep Singh who was also the captain of the Roaring Lions narrates the missed opportunity.

“We missed a world-class event that was similar to IPL and other big leagues around the world,” Singh told Kawowo Sports.

“It was a platform where East African talent would have risen and made a name. I was looking forward to taking my team to victory and learn from the other international players that were present at that moment.

“I was looking to grab this opportunity with both hands so it would open doors for other franchise teams to pick me and other East African players.”

Gagandeep Singh

The tournament had four franchise sides, carefully selected to make sure there is a balance amongst the sides to allow the event to flourish.

Supersport had been shipped in to televise all the games live with the top cricket commentators also in town.

The organizers might have been dragged back by regulation and with the holidays fast approaching they had to cut a $490,000 loss before they dug themselves a deeper hole.

Gagandeep Singh believes lessons have been learnt and very soon another Cricket Festival will be in Kampala.

“I shall keep working hard for these kind of opportunities that come my way. After AfroT20, I was drafted in CPL 2019. If the league would have taken place, East African talent would have been picked by other leagues.”

Such pop-up T20 tournaments have led to the explosion of the shortest format of the game given their impact especially since the IPL started 11 years ago. The events have also helped expose associate players to better competition as well as provide them with a decent payday.

We hope the Cricket Carnival that never was sails into Kampala very soon.

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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