KAMPALA. Not all is well in the fraternity after hosts Uganda yet again capitulated in front of their own faithful at ICC Africa Men’s Twenty20 Cup that climaxed eight days ago.
Uganda finished fourth at the six-team tournament, clearly distant from the coveted top positions that Namibia and Kenya took to represent the continent at the ICC Global T20 Qualifier due October in UAE.
Two wins against Botswana and Ghana couldn’t do much to take away the pain of a 42-run defeat to Namibia but more importantly, the one-run loss to Kenya.
Cricket Cranes’ players were left crestfallen by that slim defeat and fans were agonized by an unexpected yet fresh chapter of a heart-break.
Further, tournament volunteers were perturbed by Uganda Cricket Association’s (UCA) mismanagement of their stipends, leaving the Local Organising Committee egg-faced and ashamed.
Batting Achilles’ heel
And because of that, ICC officials Kuben Pillay and Patricia Kambarami could have dreaded their trip to Kampala.
Back to the oval, Uganda will feel undone by their lack of grit at the top of the batting line-up, another symptom of the country’s perennial batting woes.
When Uganda scores runs, things are okay. When they don’t, heads turn. During this week-long showpiece, coach Steve Tikolo’s charges crumbled at the worst time.
Uganda produced the tournament best batsman Riazat Ali Shah with 140 runs in four innings and that is odd.
But it only him, Arnold Otwani, who finished with 89 runs in four innings and solid opener Hamu Kayondo (76 runs in three innings) who showed consistency.
Otwani delivered with a quick-fire 27-ball 44 as Uganda beat Botswana by 52 runs at Lugogo Oval to get off the mark on May 20.
Against Namibia at Kyambogo Oval on the following day, the batting demons were awake in the failed chase of 167 runs whereas against Kenya, only four players hit double digits.
Arinaitwe misrepresents young guns
Key focus of the woes is the opening batsman Zephaniah Arinaitwe. The teenager was handed his T20 international debut aged 17 against Botswana and made one run off six balls before Otwani covered up.
Arinaitwe, in the team at the expense of options like reserve Simon Ssesaazi and experienced yet less-bothered Arthur Kyobe, made 15 runs against Namibia but wrapped up the tournament with 22 runs from three innings.
Tikolo was forced to drop him for the last tournament match against Ghana and his show misrepresented the youngsters as many of his age keep knocking onto the door to open.
Left-hander Ssesaazi has struggled to make the final 14 ever since he made just 11 runs in four innings at his senior debut showpiece during the ICC World Cricket League Division Four in Malaysia 13 months ago.
Now the technical committee will remain hesitant about choosing new faces even ahead of the ICC Cricket World Cup Challenge League that begins in August.
Roger Mukasa captaincy
While Arinaitwe will be at fault for that consistent catch he gave away at long-on, skipper Roger Mukasa too has taken in a lot of stick.
In most instances during the Africa T20, Mukasa would follow Arinaitwe to the dug-out. Batting at three, he finished with a meagre 31 runs in four innings with a best score of 14.
It appears the armband has either turned out heavy for the man who took over from ‘retired’ Davis Karashani after the 2017 ICC WCL Division Three or it’s a really rough patch. One would feel for him when he broke down in tears after the loss to Kenya.
When he fails to score runs, Mukasa usually covers up with wickets but it did not happen this time. He conceded 40 runs and had no wicket in seven overs.
His decisions on bowling selection during the crucial spells as well raised eye brows especially when left-arm orthodox spinner Henry Ssenyondo started but then didn’t bowl against Kenya.
Later, it turned out Kenya turned to slow deliveries to take the game away from Uganda on May 22 and then, Ssenyondo took 3/14 the following day against Ghana.
On the other hand, there is little to fault the bowlers considering they gave it their all as they had ODI nation Namibia on the wall at 53-4 after eight overs before letting them set 166-7.
They also had Kenya at 15-2 after 17 balls, then 70-4 after 14.1 overs but then let them reach 144-9.
The pressure valve in both defeats was always let loose in the death bowling aspect and even if left-arm seamer Charles Waiswa took a combined eight wickets in 14 overs, his economy was the highest for the team at 8.21.
With that and the top-order not coming through, it was always going to be a difficult job to have a hand on the UAE ticket.
Since 2017, the Cricket Cranes have endured a torrid time. Two demotions in the ICC WCL Division Three in Kampala and Oman remain heavy on many individuals’ hearts and now failure to book a ticket to UAE puts Tikolo in the spotlight.
This paper understands he is yet to renew a contract with UCA and the recent results do not offer him enough back-up.
ICC-A MEN’S T20 CUP FINALS
Ghana 113/6 Uganda 117/3
(Uganda won by 7 w with 29 B remaining)
Kenya 145/6 Uganda 144/9
(Kenya won by 1 run)
Namibia 167/7 Uganda 125/8
(Namibia won by 42 runs)
Uganda 142/7 Botswana 90/10
(Uganda won by 52R with 12 B remaining)
FINAL TABLE STANDINGS
Team P W L NR P ts
Namibia 5 3 0 2 8 +4.547
Kenya 5 3 0 2 8 +1.363
Nigeria 5 2 1 2 6 +0.394
Uganda 5 2 2 1 4 +0.587
Botswana 5 0 3 2 2 -3.028
Ghana 5 0 4 1 1 -2.361