It has been a fairytale year for Robinson Obuya who has impressed the selectors to get a place in the Cricket Cranes’ final 15-man squad for the T20 World Cup Qualifiers.
Obuya made his debut for the Cricket Cranes early this year in Kenya during the Continent Cup T20, scoring 102 runs in 8 innings at a healthy strike rate of 112. Despite being on debut he showed a lot of courage batting at the top of the order something that must be swayed in his favour ahead of the others.
Obuya missed the second edition of the East Africa T20 Cup in Rwanda and maybe thought he had lost his place but the selectors have kept faith with the young man from Jinja. He shares a name with the famous Obuya family from Kenya but there is no relation, born and bred in Jinja Robinson honed his skills on the carpet at the Jinja SSS Cricket Oval and on that surface courage is a better skill than a picture-perfect cover drive.
The times he spent with Habib Mugalula taking advice and throwdowns has earned him a place to compete with the best. His playing chances might not be a given but who knows, the heat in Namibia might conjure a date with Blessing Muzarabani bowling to him from one end. For now, he might be content with those ahead of him but he knows once the chance avails itself, he has to be ready to show what he has got.
The rest of the team features the usual suspects with not a lot of change from the team that featured in Rwanda.
Ronald Lutaaya and Pascal Murungi make way for Riazat Ali Shah and Dinesh Nakrani. The youngsters are victims of experience rather than inability. Lutaaya has a healthy strike rate of 128, scoring 319 runs in his 18 innings and has been impressive since he burst on the scene last year in Rwanda. Murungi, on the other hand, has shown signs of being brave at the back end of things whenever required but the return of Riazat Ali Shah who is the man for the job for Uganda in those moments means he has to wait a bit more.
Jonathan Ssebanja and David Wabwire are the need-for-speed options in the absence of Juma Miyagi and Cosmas Kyewuta who are still recovering from similar injuries. The missing duo has not been risked back early in anticipation of what lies ahead for the Cricket Cranes as their value is greater ahead rather than now.
Riazat Ali Shah and Dinesh Nakrani have been the go-to players for Uganda in T20 cricket in recent years and every time they do well, the team inevitably does well.
Brian Masaba will lead the team at the big stage having missed out last year in Zimbabwe due to a freak injury and he has the wise heads of Roger Mukasa, Frank Nsubuga and Ronak Patel for assistance.
Nsubuga is not showing signs of slowing down even at 43 and he will share the slow overs with the two lefties Alpesh Ramjani and Henry Ssenyondo.
Kenneth Waiswa, the MVP from the EA T20 Cup in Rwanda, will be desperate to shine on a big stage. He was captain during the Global Qualifiers in Zimbabwe last year but now he will have to fight for a place in the starting XI.
The 15-man squad will leave Kampala on Thursday night and spend 10 days in Zimbabwe before settling into Namibia for the big dance.
1. Brian Masaba (C), 2. Riazat Ali Shah, 3. Kenneth Waiswa, 4. Ronak Patel, 5. Dinesh Nakrani, 6. Simon Ssesazi, 7. Henry Ssenyondo, 8. Frank Nsubuga, 9. Robinson Obuya, 10, David Wabwire,11. Jonathan Ssebanja, 12. Roger Mukasa, 13. Bilal Hassun, 14. Cyrus Kakuru, 15. Alpesh Ramjani