BY INNOCENT NDAWULA
There is only one ‘Big Mandingo’ in world cricket. He will ‘Waka Dem Down’ any challenge that stands in his way. He is a go-getter! And whereas he loves to talk a big game, he does actually play a big game, too!
Standing at 6’3 and weighing 252 pounds, Tim Kearsey is a giant of man with the biggest part of his body being his larger-than-life heart.
An incisive military medium pace-man in his heyday, Kearsey has given back to the game in a coaching role for 15 years with distinction.
An International Cricket Council (ICC) Level II coach with several gigs on the Island of Jersey, Channel Islands, Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda – where he first toured with Cricket Without Boundaries (CWB) in 2015, Kearsey’s last bunch of students do please him even more having played at ICC U-19 World Cup in New Zealand as well as the 2018 ICC World Cricket League (WCL) Division IV in Malaysia.
As is the case with many journeymen tutors, Kearsey’s coaching is more out of love for the Gentleman’s Game than the big pay cheques many other tacticians pick for their sometimes ‘below par’ efforts.
Kearsey redefines the word selflessness as many a time he pays out of his pocket to pass on some of his cricketing knowledge to those that desire it most – the young talents.
An ever-present figure in Uganda’s national team’s dugout since the turn of the year, Kearsey has been a priceless addition to the Cricket Cranes set-up.
A fitness freak, Big Tim’s expertise largely lies with foods and nutrition thus fitting into a role ignored by many African sporting teams but very important as a Strength and Conditioning coach for Uganda.
His daily hustle rotates around pleading with the players to take more water at every turn, giving extra massages to the bowlers, offering ‘exotic’ pain-killers and concentration tablets to the batsmen and making swimming sessions and ice-baths a norm rather than a by-the-way.
His role is bound to make many a coach very unpopular amongst African players settings and yet he manages to pull it off as easily the most ‘loved’ man in the Cricket Cranes fold.
Love For Uganda
But his love for Uganda started way back in 2015 when he toured the Pearl of Africa with six others as part of CWB Team that always carries along a mission to educate masses about HIV AIDS and the basic skills of cricket.
“Amongst all the countries we toured, Uganda was the most memorable and awesome thing I have ever experienced. Ugandans are natural athletes, they have very good bowlers and they throw, catch and field the ball well but their batting lets them down because they have no patience at the crease. I always wanted to come back and help in the game’s development in any way possible,” says Kearsey of his first experience of Uganda three years ago.
Big Tim, as everyone refers to him, is every inch grateful to Uganda head coach Steve Tikolo, who gave him a nod when he asked through assistant coach Jackson Ogwang to be part of the Uganda’s set-up for the Malaysia campaign.
“Guys like Big Tim (Kearsey) are needed but many of our associations cannot afford them. He is doing what he loves and at a voluntarily basis. He brings a calming effect to the team. And maybe the players need to hear these things we keep saying from someone else. The bigger the backroom and technical staff we have, the better. You have seen how many people these European teams travel with and the roles they play. Every little helps counts. Big Tim is important for us,” Kenyan legend Tikolo, who is arguably the best batsman never to have played Test cricket, said of Kearsey’s impactful role that many a times goes underappreciated.
Good Luck Charm
And Kearsey has brought a good luck charm and positive vibes to the Cricket Cranes since his return to Uganda. He was in a bigger way a deserving champion as Uganda beat the odds to recover from an opening day loss to hosts Malaysia enroute to winning the ICC WCL Division IV in Kuala Lumpur this year.
Last month in Rwanda, Big Tim swaggered into Ubumwe Grande Hotel – Uganda’s base for the ICC World Twenty20 Africa B Qualifier – with an aura of invincibility that rubbed off every player.
Bare hugs and a galaxy of gifts exchanges punctuated his arrival. It was business from then on and positive talk even when Uganda lost the opening fixture to Kenya and stumbled mid-way the campaign with a painful five-wicket loss to Tanzania.
On the tournament’s Rest/Reserve Days, Kearsey found no reason to enjoy the hotel’s niceties.
Instead, he sought to impart cricket knowledge to the locals. In tow to help was Emmanuel Isaneez, a man who somewhat commands cult status in the ‘Land of a Thousand Hills’ because of his cricketing exploits over the years in the national competitions.
The Integrated Polytechnic Regional Campus (IPRC) Kigali Grounds, Rwanda’s first home of cricket, was the place to be. There was beehive activity with first the locals savouring a fun swing and then 14 selected Rwanda National U-19 Boys Team members getting a lion share of Big Tim’s time.
Kearsey concentrated on winning mindsets, leadership, bowling techniques for fast bowlers and spin bowlers plus batting techniques using the pace of the ball whereas Isaneez did some fielding drills and worked on concentration.
“We achieved some technical correction and game psychology - as well as building confidence and understanding of the game,” the 44-year-old Kearsey spoke of his session with the Rwandan boys.
Such a restless character. Big Tim is truly an unsung hero of our times.
QUICK GLANCE AT TIM KEARSEY
Age: 44 years
Nickname: Big Mandingo
Country of Birth: Jersey
Feat: Record wicket taker in Jersey National League
Qualifications: ICC Level 2 Coach, Nutrition & Psychology Scientist
Pro-Stint: Played in Australian & French Leagues.
Club: St Ouen Springfield Cricket Club, Jersey
Highest Score: 58 against Sporting Club in 1998 in Jersey Premier League.
Best Bowling: 6 for 22 in Channel Island Cup Semi Final vs. Old Victorians in 2004.
Preferred Fielding Position: Short Extra Cover (Like Hamu Kayondo, I talk a lot on the field)
Career: Management Lecturer at two universities in United Kingdom.
Faith: Believer in Jesus and Passion for the wonders of Muslim Countries.
Also: Past Trustee to Imran Niazi Khan.
Sponsor: Christian Outreach Trust owned by the St Brelade's Church in Jersey.
Close pal: It has got to be Jackson Ogwang (Cricket Cranes assistant coach). My African brother and great friend. We complement each other and will grow together for the success and future of Ugandan cricket.
Best Cricket Moments: Somerset CC were playing Cleeve CC (Bristol) in a charity game and I met Joel Garner, Sir Vivian Richards and Sir Ian Botham. I was four years old.
I also once took 42 wickets in a league season in 11 games at an average of 8.14 and bowled the French National Captain twice in three balls in an unofficial ‘Test Match’ between Jersey and France.
Favourite Cricketers: Bilal Hassan (Cricket Cranes opening bowler): Bilal and I took our time sharing some fun. He fascinated me with his distinct cricketing ability - he was like Waqar Younis. His ability, with hard work (“Insha Allah”), will help give us the edge we need to further rise in world cricket.
I also appreciate skipper Roger Mukasa - he takes on the opposition in every way when the pressure is on.
Words of Advice: Wisdom is acquired through experience and listening to others. Nurture your wisdom and from it a great tree shall grow. God gave us this game and life - and those that repay him by living through his actions and words, will be loved through his grace and rewarded.
Motto: Whatever you sow, so shall you reap.