By Faith Munezero
It was the final of the annual Coca Cola Schools’ Cricket Week tournament 17 years ago at the iconic Lugogo oval, when two highly competitive schools faced each other in an epic match for the coveted title of Champions. On the 30th August 2001, Busoga College Mwiri and Kings College Budo locked horns in a tense game that saw the ultimate disappointment for one side and euphoria for the other.
With eight wins championship under their belt, Mwiri had made a name for itself as a cricketing powerhouse and were all set to raise the stakes with a record ninth consecutive win. However, the record they set was not one they had in mind – conceding their first loss in eight years to fierce contender Kings College Budo. Budo beat the odds to win the 2001 championship trophy, but how did they do it?
Going further back to 1996, Budo, led by East Africa’s fastest bowler Richard Sempa met a star studded Mwiri outfit that included the likes of Simon Nsubuga and Henry Osinde, who masterminded a famous victory in a tense final at the Lugogo Cricket Oval. Watching on from the pavilion that day were a group of young cricket enthusiasts, who in 1999, once again carried Budo to yet another final against their old rivals Mwiri.
Unfortunately, that game saw the former fall short of a win by 18 runs and it was back to the drawing board. But two years later they were ready. Tussling it out to the Super Six, (a highly competitive stage where the six best teams fight for the two final slots) Budo and Mwiri clashed yet again, with the former booking their place in the final winning by a comfortable six wickets at the Kyambogo Oval. This turned out to be a precursor for the big final, with Mwiri having guaranteed their participation with a win over Kibuli earlier in the day.
With the perennial rivals topping the Super Six table, they once again found themselves in a position reminiscent of the 1996 and 1999 finals, battling to win the most coveted trophy in Uganda Cricket and bragging rights for another year. The morning of the final, “the mood in the camp was one of optimism,” narrates Budo Captain Richard Lwamafa. Fueled by the Super Six win, the team was not only relaxed but also optimistic that they would have a repeat performance of the previous day’s exploits. As one team trained the morning of the final, the other chose to relax ahead of the game and soon it was time.
Whether this was one of the benefits of their relaxation or not, one cannot tell but Budo won the toss and so far, all seemed to go well for the King’s boys who opted to field first. When asked why, Richard Lwamafa replied, “We had strength in regards to batting, so we knew that we could chase down totals. We opted to bowl first because we knew whatever Mwiri set, we would be able to chase down.”
And that they did.
Mwiri took the crease first, posting a paltry score of 89 runs in the allotted 25 overs, a score that was even less than the 121 runs they notched in their Super Six encounter. Things couldn't have gone better for Budo! With their target set, they commenced the innings, getting off to a good start until Mwiri captain Chris Engola, bowling like a man possessed, tore through the middle order and dragged his team back into the contest. But the two gentlemen; ex- Mwirian Richard Okia and the infallible Adam Jumba put on a splendid batting effort, easing their team-mates nerves and taking them home within 21 overs.
Budo had lost it before, and it was poetic justice when they broke Mwiri’s unbeaten run from 1993 to 2001, to hold the schools’ “Holy Grail” once more.
As the captain of the charge, Lwamafa couldn’t have been prouder of his team. This is especially so because the last time the trophy made it to the royal hill, was back in 1992 under Tendo Mbazzi.
The burden of match day decisions usually rests on the capable shoulders of the captain, but more often than not his decisions are not always unanimously agreed upon. It is victories like this therefore, that vindicated his appointment and decisions as captain.
“It was long in coming," he narrates. "The win was a reward for six years of being loyal to the game."
What made the difference this time around? One word - preparation. Like a student confident about a test they aptly studied for, the Budonians came into the tournament well balanced and prepared - armed with game plans for every opponent, including Mwiri. This explained their relaxed and optimistic mood on the D-day.
And after a good day of cricket, celebrations were definitely in order. There was no Karveli or Café Javas back then, but the team had a great time, crowning the epic event with a celebratory drink.
Budo had not only defeated Mwiri at the final but also at the Super six – a remarkable feat. “We finally achieved something that better cricketers hadn’t been able to do so it was a great and satisfying feeling.” He commented. Needless to say, this would go down in history books as one of the most unforgettable tournaments for both schools.
Here’s a look at the iconic King’s College Budo team that ended Mwiri’s winning streak:
Kings College Budo 2001 School Cricket Week Team.
1. Edgar Kiggundu
2. Brian Kizza
3. Richard Lwamafa (C, Wk)
4. Dickson Wesikira
5. Steven Magambo
6. Richard Okia
7. Adam Jumba
8. George Seviri
9. Emmanuel Gonahasa
10. Eric Kamara
11. Ronald Sekadde
12. Daniel Lutaakome
13. Alpha Adowa
14. Lucas Kansiime