By Innocent Ndawula
ICC T20 World Cup Africa Final
Next Fixtures - Monday, May 20
Ghana vs. Namibia University Oval, Kyambogo, Kampala
Kenya vs Nigeria Kyambogo Cricket Oval, Kampala
Uganda vs Botswana, Lugogo Stadium, Kampala
OTHER UGANDAN FIXTURES
Namibia vs. Uganda 9.30am, Kyambogo
Uganda vs. Kenya 1.50pm, Lugogo
Uganda vs. Ghana 1.50pm, Lugogo
Nigeria vs. Uganda 1.50pm, Lugogo
This wasn't the start International Cricket Council (ICC) or Uganda Cricket Association (UCA) envisaged at this coveted ICC Twenty20 World Cup Africa Final in Kampala.
With the heavens opening up in earnest as dawn approached, the six competing teams; Kenya, Botswana, Ghana, Nigeria, Namibia and Uganda held their breath while having breakfast at Kabira Country Club. The officials could hardly digest their meals with the Super Sunday Brunch at everyone’s disposal at the hotel looking like a spiked meal.
When it rains, it pours… and indeed that was the case as Lugogo Cricket Ground and the University Oval in Kyambogo took a massive pounding.
The morning Southern Africa derby between Joseph Angara’s Botswana and Albie Morkel’s Namibia as well as the West African one between regional champions Ghana and the Yellow Greens - Nigeria - were all called off.
Hope sprung eternal for the native Ugandan fans that trekked into Lugogo from all different walks of life for the third game of the day - a Twenty20 International status derby - between Uganda and Kenya in the afternoon considering the work done by the groundsmen and their support staff.
The two teams scheduled to play; Uganda and Kenya arrived in prime condition, ready to serve a thriller of an opener.
Instead rain prevailed. A heavy morning downpour created waterlogged patches at Lugogo so much that organisers called off the derby at 2:30pm, 30 minutes after the scheduled commencement of the ‘Migingo Derby’.
The Lugogo cricket oval was then officially deemed unplayable and now, Uganda and Kenya will be meeting, in a rescheduled fixture, on Wednesday on what should have been a tournament rest day.
The decision to reschedule was taken up by umpires Iknow Chabi (Zimbabwe), Andrew Louw (Namibia) and South African match referee Gerrie Pienaar 40 minutes after the scheduled 1.50pm start.
In the early afternoon, there were frantic efforts to drain the water out of the turf using mattresses’ foams but it was an exercise in futility.
The water-logged areas were so many and so large that the quality of play was always going to be compromised by a horrible playing surface. The rescheduling of the games was truly felt when it became a reality that the rudimentary efforts from ICC’s volunteer ground staff were not going to be good enough on the day.
A fairly sizeable crowd of cricket fans drove out of Lugogo Oval disappointed, including former Uganda Cricket Association chairman Richard Mwami and his successor Bashir Ansasiira, and they will be hoping for some sunshine for the rest of the African Carnival.
As it is and with weather permitting, Uganda will now open against Botswana on Monday afternoon at the same venue.
The hosts will do with a win seeing how Ugandan cricket has suffered heartbreak after heartbreak in recent ICC events including the no-show at the 2017 Division III ICC World Cricket League.
Uganda must now go through five days of uninterrupted action with games against Botswana Namibia, Kenya, Ghana and Nigeria to come on subsequent days.
There will now be no rest day for the six teams with the opening fixtures moved to Wednesday and with ICC looking to chip in an extra reserve/rest day on Saturday to cater for the any other washed out games with the teams now rescheduled to fly out on Sunday (May 26).
The top two at the end of the event will go on to represent Africa at the ICC Men’s Twenty20 World Cup Qualifier in the United Arab Emirates later this year – where six teams will advance to the T20 World Cup in Australia in October 2020.
This African Carnival is just about to get started!