The pain after the 13-run defeat to USA at Entebbe on May 29, 2017 enroute to relegation during the ICC World Cricket League (WCL) Division Three tournament still haunts Uganda.
There has been little or no recovery for the fraternity even if the Cricket Cranes won the Cricket Builds Hope T20 tournament during the opening of the Gahanga Cricket Stadium in Rwanda last October.
But this senior national team is minding less. Preparations for the ICC WCL Division Four due April 28 - May 5 in Malaysia are in high gear.
Yesterday, coach Steve Tikolo’s charges flew out for 16-day build-up trips to Qatar and India as the Cricket Cranes aim to build momentum enough to flip to a new page.
“We began on September 19 last year,” Tikolo said of Uganda’s preparations for Malaysia. “These are very important trips to Qatar and India with players together as a team and they give the squad confidence.”
The East African nation will now have to play three T20’s and two ODI’s (50-over games) against the President XI and Qatar from February 8-13. On Valentine’s Day, the team will be in Bombay, India for five ODI encounters from February 16-22 on a visit to cricket-mad nation orchestrated by Sanjay Cricket Farm. There have been some brave yet expected changes to the squad that featured at the ICC WCL Division Three with skipper Davis Karashani, left-hand opener Arthur Kyobe dropped. Further experience in gloves man Lawrence Ssematimba, Arnold Otwani and Jonathan Ssebanja were not included.
“Cricket will move on. It’s about the guys there at the moment to deliver.” Tikolo said of Karashani and Kyobe’s absences. Instead, Kenyan legend Tikolo has opted for fresh blood in Zephaniah Arinaitwe, Kenneth Waiswa, Trevor Bukenya, wicket-keeper Fred Achelam and Simon Ssesaazi, all graduates from the last two U-19 sides.
“The five youngsters you see have been performing well. It is a good blend as the youth bring in exuberance.” he added.
The task for Roger Mukasa goes beyond pursuing big scores with the bat to leading the team while Riazat Shah and Bilal Hassan await debuts, and Lloyd Patternot, who watched the May ship sink on the sidelines, is included.
“All the boys are happy to have this tour before Malaysia. We have experience and youngsters and I think we will blend well,” Mukasa said. Batting all-rounder Steven Wabwose and experienced Emmanuel Isaneez will join the team in India.
THE CRICKET TEAM TO QATAR
Roger Mukasa, Hamu Kayondo, Zephaniah Arinaitwe, Simon Ssesaazi, Lloyd Patternot, Deus Muhumuza, Brian Masaba, Frank Nsubuga, Kenneth Waiswa, Irfan Afridi, Riazat Shah, Fred Achelam, Henry Ssenyondo, Charles Waiswa, Trevor Bukenya, Bilal Hassan
CRICKET CRANES SCHEDULE
Feb 6: Departure to Doha, Qatar
Feb 7: Arrival/Press Conference
Feb 8: T20 Game
Feb 9: 50-Over Game
Feb 10: T20 Game
Feb 11: 50-Over Game
Feb 12: Rest Day/Site Touring
Feb 13: T20 Game
Feb 14: Fly to Bombay, India
Feb 15: Arrival India
Feb 16: Two T20 Games
Feb 17: 50-Over Game
Feb 18: Charity Work/CSR
Feb 19: 50-Over Game
Feb 20: Touring/Rest Day
Feb 21: 50-Over match
Feb 22: 50-Over match
Feb 23: Return To Uganda