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

Cricket Cranes just returned from a seven-day residential camp in Entebbe with all 26 players leaving an impression on head coach Laurence Mahatlane.

The camp was used to come up with team culture and understanding the purpose of playing for the badge.

Former Cricket Cranes skipper Roger Mukasa and batsman Shahzad Kamal missed out due to work commitments, but Hamu Kayondo and Saud Islam were available for the camp.

The first headache for Mahatlane will be sorting out the top order with most of the batsmen in fine form. The competition comes from Emmanuel Hasahya and Simon Ssesazi who were outsiders, but have been the biggest scorers in the intrasquad trial games.

Brian Masaba Credit: John Batanudde

Roger Mukasa has shown his class with the bat, with flashes of the old Mukasa despite not being full-time with the team now. Ronak Patel who was prolific with the bat in Oman in 2019 will be joining the squad soon, throwing another spanner in the works.

Zephaniah Arinaitwe another top-order batsman is currently out of favor due to a lack of runs but once he finds his form, it’s impossible to leave him out. Based on his previous form and the growth he has shown, only Vice-Captain Arnold Otwani should be confident of a place in the final 14.

Riazat Ali Sha Credit: John Batanudde

The other department that needs panadol extra will be the all-rounder slots. The Cricket Cranes have had some incredibly talented all-rounders in the side with Deus Muhumuza, team Captain Brian Masaba, Riazat Ali Shah, Frank Akankwasa, Kenneth Waiswa, Dinesh Nakrani, Rogers Olipa, Frank Nsubuga, Derrick Bakunzi all looking for a slot in the final 14 man side. It is safe to bet that the only assured person here is Captain Brian Masaba.

The fast bowling options are not so many. With the unavailability of the experienced Charles Waiswa, the burden will have to be on the shoulders of the youngsters Trevor Bukenya and Cosmas Kyewuta. The left-arm option comes from Jonathan Ssebanja whose edge over the others is his ability to strike some blows at the end. Bilal Hassun will be joining the training squad soon and that should add to the migraine for Mahatlane.

Frank Nsubuga

The slow bowling options are pretty much obvious with the experienced Frank Nsubuga leader of the brigade with Henry Ssenyondo. Gerald Mubiru has greatly improved his skills since his U19 debut and he can make a case for his selection. The slow department has been the go-to bowling option for Uganda and has won a lot of games for Cricket Cranes, with the famous one-run win over Denmark in Malaysia the most recent.

With the team leadership sorted – Masaba and his deputy Otwani – there are 12 more slots up for grabs and it will be interesting to see which combinations Mahatlane goes with in hisfirst final 14 for the tour to Namibia.

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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