By Faith Munezero
Sports teaches you character, it teaches you to play by the rules, it teaches you to know what it feels like to win and lose – it teaches you about life.
- Billie Jean King
From the need for togetherness, to mental strength, to the need for will power, determination, focus, zeal, selflessness, sacrifice…sports definitely teaches about life. Even negative attributes like self-preservation, selfish play and so on, are fully at work sometimes. These are just some of the things I thought about this week, as I reflected on my short journey as a cricket fan since breaking the weekend warrior spirit a few months ago.
Back in high school, I didn’t know any better. As a chubby unfit girl, sports had never been one of the things I could do. But with PE being compulsory and all, I didn’t have to be embarrassed alone. Who knew 45 minutes of play would inspire such a fervent passion that’s lived on for close to 12 years, despite it lying dormant for 8 of them? For that, I will always be grateful to Mr. Nsereko.
Mini cricket being played in Kasese
So there I was, thinking the mini cricket kit and tennis ball was all there is to it – until I received the shock of my life; sit ups? Push-ups? Running? Like I have to run? When even the Bible says that The wicked run when no one is chasing them… (Proverbs 28:1) so why would I put myself through all that trouble? But as they say, nothing worthwhile ever comes easy. Fueled by passion, patient coaching and zeal I took up the sport and there is so much I have come to learn from it.
I never really grasped the full extent of the sport except for the basics – bowling, batting, fielding, physical fitness, and having fun of course. There were times are played that way and actually contributed towards some victories but the basics can only take you so far. With the dynamics of life comes new conditions that require adjustment and improvement – how you would keep up if all you do is the bare minimum?
Like Jim Butcher would say, it’s never too late to learn, so I have found myself reading up on the new terms, following a cricket blog or two and even some international matches, just to understand the Gentleman’s game better and along the way I came across an article by Tim Wigmore with a pretty interesting title; The art of the match-losing innings. Intrigued, I took some time to read it. In it he talks about how some qualities like misplaced good intentions, poor strategy and systematic insecurity in batting will make you lose a game, with focus on T20 games.
Pictures from Panama v Belize at the t20 World Cup Qualifiers in America.
He highlighted some common strategies that some had used in play, especially letting opening batsmen preserve wickets, even if they fall way behind required run rate. I could be wrong but, isn’t T20 supposed to be a ‘hit and run’ kind of format? He also mentioned and gave a few statistics of how certain teams had bigger win margins for using unconventional/ risky tactics compared to the more traditional kind. This reminded me of the ongoing Americas T20 qualifiers tournament, where in the match between Panama and Belize where this last point could have been implemented. Basically, Belize retired out one of their opening batsmen, Howell Gillet, after 10 overs of play having scored 8 runs off 23 balls, so that a more explosive batsmen could enter. Belize went from 33/0 in 10 overs to 104/5 in 20 overs, and successfully defended their score to win the match by just 12 runs! So this move, albeit a risky one, paid off in the end. Interesting, isn’t it?
Each weekend for me, brings another opportunity to indulge in my new pastime. With my newly opened eyes and four different venues to choose from, I wished I could catch some matches simultaneously but not even the vectors of high school mathematics could help me calculate that possibility. So much for applicability! I settled on a match closer to home though and that’s how I found myself heading to Banda for the derby between K.I.C.C and the Strikers.
I have watched both teams play before but never together. Stand out features for both teams was the agility/athletic ability for Strikers CC and bowling for K.I.C.C, so it made for a pretty interesting match to see them come out against each other and I wasn’t disappointed.
I loved how the Daniel Ruyange – Davis Karashani and Frank Nsubuga – Micheal Ndiko partnerships brought excitement and a little entertainment to the first innings, with the latter duo putting on 40 runs in the last 3 overs! My best shot of the day was by Coach Michael; a beautiful high sixer that flew right over cow corner and was only stopped in its flight by the fence lining the oval! He even went on to get one of the coolest one handed catches I have seen by far! Another memorable shot was from Zephaniah Katungyi, garnering an easy six runs off Afridi's spin bowling.
The Strikers chase had me making all kinds of predictions and sideline coaching advice (to myself of course) and they seemed on course for a win. Their quick running between wickets in addition to the good foundation set by the top and middle order helped them gain good mileage. At some point the Strikers were at 117 runs for the loss of 5 wickets until the Siraje – Akankwasa partnership took over. After the 30th over, I had this certain prediction that if any of them lost a wicket it would be game over for the Strikers. Their partnership had put on 40 runs in the last 9 overs but no sooner had I thought this than Akankwasa was dismissed after being caught at mid-wicket!
I was rooting for some last minute drama because they needed 45 runs required in 47 balls with 4 wickets left to win but that latest wicket became the undoing of the young sided. Having gotten their breakthrough, K.I.C.C used the next three overs to mercilessly bring down the rest of the wickets gifting them a win by 33 runs.
I saw the importance of speed and agility, a factor that helped the top order for Strikers and middle order for K.I.C.C. It reminded me, in a somewhat subtle way, that in life some things need to be done as fast as possible because time is short and cannot be recovered. I saw the need to be flexible and adapt accordingly like the way the teams kept changing the field set up due to the batsmen’s predictable and sometimes unpredictable shots. Not to mention the uncanny similarity in dismissal of batsmen for both teams in the way they were caught – majority were high catches! At least I know how NOT to play a shot.
Did you know?
By the time I discovered Cricket Uganda and got introduced to this whole other side of cricket that I never knew existed, I still approached it with that ‘basics mindset’. But now I am beginning to see it with opened eyes. This new world, together with the congenial cricket fraternity has made it even more beautiful than I had imagined and I just can’t keep it to myself.
There are still a few more matches left in the Jazz Safari League, and entry is absolutely free! You can have your pick of Kyambogo, Entebbe, Lugogo, Budo or even Jinja – the more the merrier, right? As if that’s not enough, the women’s league is also going on every Saturday – talk about being spoilt for choice!
You can even follow the matches live from wherever you are via @UgCricket, @CricketUganda and hashtag #CricketUganda on either their Twitter or Facebook platforms. So come and join in on the fun because the Gentleman’s game is for one and all, and all its missing is you.