By Innocent Ndawula
Coach Steve Tikolo and the Uganda Cricket Association (UCA) Selectors have named an exciting squad of 14 and two reserve players that will represent Uganda at the upcoming ICC Men’s T20 World Cup Africa Final from May 17-25 in Kampala.
Tikolo, a legend of the game, believes the ‘Chosen Ones’ - are at the moment - the country’s best in this format (T20) and should be able to achieve the bare minimum - finishing among the top two nations that will progress to the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup Qualifier in United Arab Emirates (UAE) from October 11 to November 3, 2019.
There are four changes from the side that helped Uganda qualify from the East Africa Region Qualifier (Africa B event) at Gahanga International Stadium in Rwanda last year (July 5-15, 2018). Uganda finished runners-up to Kenya at the four-nation event to earn the right to play here.
Bowling all-rounders Irfan Afridi and Kenneth Waiswa alongside top order batsman Ronak Patel and opening bowler Bilal Hassun didn’t make the grade this time round for varying reasons and in their place are four players that have worked their socks off to secure their spots.
Seasoned campaigner Emmanuel Isaneez bounces back after some good time on the sidelines and stylish utility batsman Arnold Otwani continues to hold onto his berth since his Second Coming at the failed ICC World Cricket League (WCL) Division III mission in Oman (November 4-20) last year.
Diminutive young opener Zephaniah Arinaitwe, who has recently enjoyed short stints with the national team will make his first competitive ICC-event debut at the senior level after an illustrious career with the Baby Cricket Cranes (Under 19 side) whereas electrifying teenage all-rounder Rogers Olipa completes his remake from being just a bit-part player to one that can be trusted with matching-winning responsibility by his debut senior call.
“We have picked the best players that we believe will do the job for the country,” said Tikolo of the team that will be captained by inspirational Roger Mukasa. Leg-spinning all-rounder Brian Masaba maintains his mantle as vice captain.
Tikolo adds; “These guys have worked hard and earned the right to represent their country. They know their roles and what’s at stake. We as coaches have done our bit and hopefully the guys will execute the set game plans whilst being able to enjoy their individual games.”
Skipper Mukasa sounded optimistic ahead of the six-nation event featuring Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Namibia, Nigeria and hosts Uganda.
“It is not going to be an easy tournament,” Mukasa told the media at the team unveiling. “But we know what to expect and are ready for the challenge. We disappointed our fans in 2017 when we didn’t do well here at home. But we promise better by playing smart cricket so as to finish among the top two nations. That is our main goal. But that doesn’t mean that we don’t want the trophy.”
The Most Valuable Player from Rwanda Riazat Ali Shah and Best Batsman Dinesh Nakrani are in the side alongside wily veteran spinner Frank Nsubuga who has been playing for the nation since 1994. The tournament will have a total of 15 games on a one-round robin basis in five-match days.
CRICKET CRANES TEAM FOR ICC WCL DIVISION III IN OMAN
Roger Mukasa Captain, Arnold Otwani, Hamu Kayondo, Zephaniah Arinaitwe, Dinesh Nakrani, Riazat Ali Shah, Deus Muhumuza, Rogers Olipa, Charles Waiswa, Frank Nsubuga, Emmanuel Isaneez, Henry Ssenyondo, Brian Masaba Vice-captain, Fred Achelam
Jonathan Ssebanja, Simon Ssesazi
Coach: Steve Tikolo Ogonji. Assistant Coach: Jackson Ogwang Oyuku
Performance Coach: Tim Kearsey. Data/Video Analyst: Alvin Bagaya Mboijana
Physiotherapist: Habiba Kulsum Anguyo Media Manager: Innocent M. Ndawula
Team Manager: Jackson Kavuma
ABOUT PARTICIPATING TEAMS
Botswana (Winners Africa ‘C’ Regional Qualifier)
Namibia (Runners-up Africa ‘C’ Regional Qualifier & Division II World Cricket League champs)
Ghana (Winners Africa ‘A’ Regional Qualifier)
Nigeria (Runners-up Africa ‘A’ Regional Qualifier
Kenya (Winners Africa ‘B’ Regional Qualifier)
Uganda (Runners-up Africa ‘B’ Regional Qualifier)
17 May 2019: Teams Arrival
18 May 2019: Official Practice, Captains Trophy Shoot & Tournament Meeting
19 May 2019: Namibia vs. Botswana 9.30am, Lugogo
19 May 2019: Nigeria vs. Ghana 9.30am, Kyambogo
19 May 2019: Uganda vs. Kenya 1.50pm, Lugogo
20 May 2019: Ghana vs. Namibia 9.30am, Lugogo
20 May 2019: Kenya vs. Nigeria 9.30am, Kyambogo
20 May 2019: Uganda vs. Botswana 1.50pm, Lugogo
21 May 2019: Kenya vs. Ghana 9.30am, Lugogo
21 May 2019: Namibia vs. Uganda 9.30am, Kyambogo
21 May 2019: Botswana vs. Nigeria 1.50pm, Lugogo
22 May 2019: Reserve Day
23 May 2019: Nigeria vs. Namibia 9.30am, Lugogo
23 May 2019: Botswana vs. Kenya 9.30am, Kyambogo
23 May 2019: Uganda vs. Ghana 1.50pm, Lugogo
24 May 2019: Namibia vs. Kenya 9.30am, Lugogo
24 May 2019: Ghana vs. Botswana 9.30am, Kyambogo
24 May 2019: Nigeria vs. Uganda 1.50pm, Lugogo
25 May 2019: Teams Departure
*Top two teams will qualify for the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup Qualifier 2019