Adonia Waibale - Passion That Fuels Radical Change

Adonia Waibale - Passion That Fuels Radical Change

Adonia Waibale is one of Cricket Uganda’s biggest critics, and a copy writer by profession. He joined us for an exclusive, talking about the outcome of division three and the future of Cricket in Uganda.

Here is an extract of what Adonia Waibale discussed while appearing on a special edition of the Fine Leg show a week after the cricket cranes returned from Oman. 

As someone who is part of the fraternity, were you surprised by what happened in Oman?

Frankly, I think I was shocked. What we knew was the camp went up in smoke when we touched down in Oman and what hurt me the most was the inability of the team to recover from that slump.

For me the biggest disappointment actually was them really because the level we are playing – the level we want to play - I think it’s safe to say that we should expect more upsets. And I would like to think that there is something wrong in the system, particularly in the way that cricket is managed in Uganda.

We need to know to a certain point of detail, what really went wrong if we are going to get the head of a snake here and cut it off.  At what point did the wheels really come off? So I think Uganda shocked me and I was really rooting for us, I mean we were obviously vouching for the position in division two and I actually thought we had a chance. We had a chance this time.

After Innocent Ndawula’s debrief on what went south in Oman, what are your thoughts? Do they sound like excuses to you?

Umm, two things. First being, I don’t honestly think that the excuses are what happened to us. What I don’t want to believe is that the team is out of its depth. The team had class acts themselves and to the fans, because I got to watch a few of their trial games in Kampala, and quite frankly I thought that they were well prepared. The fours that they did in South Africa, and games we played in Rwanda and all that stuff had us in the right place to actually win this.

However, I want to say that we had a lot more to play for in this tournament than we did in Malaysia. This tournament quite frankly should have been the catapult that needed us coming off a given string. I believe we had the right fuel in our engine to actually push forward. The big question was perhaps the games – what went wrong? Afridi’s demise just attempted to nudge the issue but quite frankly it does not bring the scope of the baggage or pain that we had to endure. So yes, they are not excuses but again I think they are not capturing what went wrong.

I actually expected a lot; an explanation that was deeper than Afridi and from my opinion, the team in Uganda, training in Uganda, will have to accept the truth which is that the level at which they are at might be a notch higher. Those countries with us are doing a lot better than we are doing. You cannot expect Afridi to come and bowl to a one Musali who only goes to train once a week and Afridi does not bowl him out on the first ball. Frankly, I think we are not doing out national team service. I think we haven’t given them the platforms to actually compete at that level.

Have we been riding on luck? I don’t think so. But I think at this time, we actually have to do a lot more, we have to do less in the tournament and more before the tournament which we are not doing. In the trial games we are playing the same bowlers. I was shocked to learn that our players encountered the ‘Duke’ balls for the very first time in Oman. So was this public knowledge that the official ball of the tournament was going to be the ‘Duke’ ball? If it was public knowledge then perhaps someone slept on the job because I believe our team went to Muscat hoping to play the Kookaburra, and the results speak for themselves. They were unprepared and mesmerized, so to speak. That ball was still turning in 36 overs, this must have been magic to them, and had them ask what they were doing to it.

Sounds like we did not do our homework…

Exactly. So do we have a technical bench? Because if we do, we need a bigger one and once the responsibilities have been distributed, maybe Alvin and the tea, manager could do less because you have the resources distributed across the platform. So yeah, going into the tournament, I don’t think we did enough. Are our players equipped to play at that level? Are they experienced enough?

One of the biggest Cricket Cranes’ fans said that they are not prepared mentally for Division three, and that to improve their quality they need to start with the mind so we can stop having excuses. Your thoughts?

I want to sort of differ from that. Mental strength is a very long debate especially in sports. However, for anyone who has been playing sport for as long as the national team, quite frankly I think it’s a pedestrian and sort of lazy excuse.

At this level when we are (please excuse my French), still playing amateur cricket, that is acceptable for you not to know how to recover from a slump. But let’s not confuse two things, because honestly I think what we are really talking about here is immaturity of our players.

Quite frankly, I think it is immaturity for us as players and as batsmen. And where is the drive? Do we see that most players have Uganda cricket at heart? If batting is the analysis of the team’s situation, before the team and his (Afridi) anger is now more important than the team’s win, for me that is not mental strength that is immaturity.

The thing goes back to how much cricket our people are playing. I understand they have simulation rings, but you cannot simulate mental strength.

How do we move forward then? Is it the system that is the problem and is it not helping us?

We have not done enough as cricket – as Cricket Uganda and as UCA. I think that as far as selling cricket, honestly, out of 100, I don’t know how to score UCA [laughs], and that is just from the knowledge I have. If we are to think of a couple of sponsors that we have had in the past across multiple industries, you really see no follow up. These people came and gave us money but there is no follow up.

This game is still going to stay in Uganda for a very long time, but there is no deliberate effort to market it. We need to be more deliberate about pushing this game. I will give an example of Rotary Uganda. Rotary Uganda will run one of the biggest, the most lucrative and bankable products that is basically started by the cancer run, and I will tell you that they have a very big budget. Are there the right people in the Secretariat to take it forward? I honestly don’t think so. And I will tell you that ever since Justine left, it seems like someone just pressed pause.

How do we move forward with the same system that has failed us for the last, I will say 10 years or so? A system that has always stagnated? When we try to move, we move down. When we tried to move back, we stagnated again. Honestly I think there has got to be a more radical change. I know now tempers are flaring and perhaps it’s not the right time to make decisions because people are emotional, but that is because people love cricket. We are really passionate about Uganda cricket and we want it to move forward.

Is there a deliberate effort?

Yes.

We do want to see this game moving forward but we are still burying our heads in the sand. Our challenges, and our excuses are still the same; “Oh my God you left this player! Oh my God this one shouldn’t have retired! Oh my God someone is eating so much money…the equipment in the container! People are getting free equipment, stuff is disappearing from the container…”

What the hell do we expect when we are having such discussions?!

So for me, that is my biggest problem. We are not having the difficult conversations that we need to have.

On whether our quality of cricket is also an issue…

I think to be able to bring the quality that we want, we need money. If we are to create an outfit, for our national team that can help them play competitive cricket, it is going to need money.

Regarding Roger and his performance at Oman…

I personally think that we need to revisit some of these structures that we set up on the national team itself. We have what has perhaps been the most electric and eclectic batsman in Uganda for probably the last 10 years, leading the charge at the front.; I want to ask do you think we could get more from Roger, without having to deal with the pressure of captaincy?

But we could get the Roger that we had 10 years ago rather, Roger the player and Roger the captain. Do you think if he was given one more time to perform for us as a batsman and not have to deal with the dramatics of being captain, do you actually think that we could perhaps get the next big thing from Africa, if it is not yet?

How then do we go forward?

How do I say this? We need to definitely go back to the drawing board, and investigate the root of our product in cricket. That is very important for us because we have seen people tapping out because of the issue. It is important not to leave the same. The development of UCA needs to be more deliberate in a way that we have quality people training our cricket.

And that is where we are losing the ball. The association is not giving the quality of training that Uganda cricket needs at the grassroots. That is why I asked you a question; we have been seeing mini cricket, we have been seeing cricket in Kasese. No offence to what these guys are doing in Kasese. I have been seeing a lot of Isa’s stuff and I know it looks beautiful on social media, and all that stuff but I think we need to hold them to book. We need to know, where is that time that they are training?

We need to see a cricketer from Kasese playing in the U19. No, I don’t think we are there yet but let’s not just hijack; let’s get them into a club. Where is that continuity? I think we have lost that plot, and somehow all that stuff has disappeared from somewhere because there is no continuity.

Going forward in regards to the national team, I think we really have our heads down in the ground. I think our team, more than anyone else is hurting right now but again I’m sorry to say that if they could not recover from losing Afridi, then I don’t know how they are going to recover from this one.

On the future of cricket…

On the matter of involving the kids, I think we have given a couple of kids the chance in the recent past and what did we get? Maybe we put them down deep end and lost them. But I think we need to keep on doing it because that is how we will get them to swim. So yes, give the kids a chance but the kids most importantly need to earn the chance.

Davis Karashani did not get his chance on the national team by being there and thumping his chest. Deus Muhumuza did not get his chance by being young. I think these guys earned. The Akankwasa’s of this world, Zephaniah Katungi they need to know that they are the future if cricket and they need to take the game more seriously. They need to play cricket on the ground and not just with words.