By Denis Musali
I had the best seat in the house officiating when Roger Mukasa clobbered Kutchi Tigers on April 7 at the lakeside oval in Entebbe, his first competitive century (an unbeaten 102 off 72 balls littered with 13 boundaries and two sixes) in two years. No surprises Aziz Damani Cricket Club had to break the bank to get him from Tornado Bees.
He gave away his wicket in the first Twenty20 game of newly initiated UCA Divisional One League on the day but mostly because his partner Saud Islam was going after the bowlers and Mukasa also got sucked into the same vice.
However, in the afternoon, when Aziz Damani had its back against the wall at 18/3, Mukasa completely changed his style, he knuckled down and decided to lead from the front.
The Cricket Cranes captain together with youngster Fred Achelam took Aziz Damani from 18/3 to 190/3 in 20 overs with Mukasa scoring an unbeaten century. The highlight for me was how Mukasa took the game by the scruff of the neck; hitting the bad balls very hard to the boundary fence with minimal risk.
If this only this inning is something to go by as he looked a player right on top of his game and in total control of things, then this is the kind of Mukasa the Cricket Cranes need. Since he took over the national captaincy, save for his heroic bowling act in the one-run win against Denmark, where he led from the front, Mukasa has been a no-show - especially with the bat.
Maybe a change in address or the 46-day stay in Singapore takes credit for Mr. Skipper’s makeover. But an undeniable assessment from that game is that Mukasa finally looks unchained. His numbers last season were so dismal with 47 runs in 3 innings in the Unimoni National Twenty20 Cup and 373 runs in nine innings in the 50-over Jazz Safari National League.
This season alone Mukasa has scored 340 runs from only eight innings already with a highest score of 102, strike-rate of 135, with one century and three half tons with a massive 48 boundaries mastered along the way.
Even a closer look at his innings has shown that the ‘Roger Mukasa’ of old is alive and kicking. The amiable leader has been assured in his knocks and also added some deft touches as well if he needs to improvise.
Coach Steve Tikolo will need Mukasa to carry the run scoring burden for his team when the ICC Africa Twenty20 World Cup Qualifiers start in May. Without Ronak Patel, who did a decent job in previous East Africa Region T20 Qualifier in Rwanda, there will be runs missing in the side and someone will have to score those runs.
For those that thought the captaincy had dried up the well from which Mukasa fetches his runs, don’t be quick to write him off. He looks a completely different kind of player and once he is in the mood, we all know that he can destroy any attack.