- CRICKET. As the fraternity counters some unusual divided attention, coach Steve Tikolo’s charges will bowl off action at the regional showpiece against neighbours Kenya at the Gahanga Stadium today in the double round robin tourney.
KIGALI. A year ago, Uganda’s national cricket teams could barely show face as they were critiqued left, right and center.
Uganda was still grappling with rare relegation to the International Cricket Council (ICC) World Cricket League (WCL) Division Four on home soil.
But how times change!
Now the Cricket Cranes are WCL Division Four Champions while the ladies hold Africa’s ticket to the ICC Women’s World Twenty20 Qualifier that bowls off in Netherlands today.
The men will equally be busier with a more similar task as they start their campaign at the ICC World T20 Africa Qualifier in Rwanda.
As the fraternity counters some unusual divided attention, coach Steve Tikolo’s troops pit their wits at the Eastern Africa regional showpiece against neighbours Kenya at the Gahanga International Stadium today.
Unlike before, this is a longer route for Uganda in quest for a slot at the ICC World T20 in Australia 2020, implying there must be no room for error. “Twenty20 cricket is viewed as our natural format of cricket because we like to hit the ball very hard,” skipper Roger Mukasa said.
“We have trained very well, the batsmen are in top form and the guys believe in their abilities. Like I promised before we travelled to Malaysia in May, I assure Ugandans that we shall qualify among the top two teams in Kigali and win the trophy, as well,” he added.
For the coach Tikolo, this is an emotional opener as he faces his own country Kenya that he led to the semifinals of the 2003 ICC World Cup in South Africa.
He even produced a man-of-match performance as Kenya buried Uganda at the 2014 ICC World Cup Qualifier in New Zealand.
Nonetheless, he will have to grind the changes in the different departments like batting where new faces Dinesh Nakrani and Ronak Patel in place of ‘unlucky’ Simon Ssesaazi and Steve Wabwose must convert their league form to the national colours.
For Kenya captain Shem Ngoche, who is a regular in the Ugandan league, he will have done enough homework about Uganda.
Kenya is in a crisis following relegation to the ICC WCL Division Three implying Ngoche, Collins Obuya and Rakep Patel’s experience together with new batting lynch-pin Dhiren Gondaria and company, a winning start, is a must.