By Denis Musali
The schools' cricket week is a right of passage for young cricketers looking to make a mark on cricket in Uganda. The annual championship that attracts the best schools from the regions compete for the right of being the best cricket playing school.
Throughout most of the ’90s, the tournament was held during the third term school holiday but at the turn of the century, the tournament was rescheduled to the second term holiday due to the change in final exams schedule.
Busoga College Mwiri record winners were very dominant throughout the 90’s only King's College Budo, Kibuli SSS ran them close but none was able to topple them. Things started changing at the turn of the century with the emergence of Jinja SSS, Aga Khan and Old Kampala.
We look at some of the players who lit up cricket week during their school time but life priorities took them away from the game. They were accomplished players for their schools and if they had chosen to pursue cricket they would have been great players for the cricket cranes.
The list might include a lot of players from Busoga College Mwiri because I saw a lot of them but we are counting down to cricket week and shall feature as many players as possible.
- Richard Kaijuka - Busoga College Mwiri
A genuine all-rounder and very reliable player who would deliver for the Mwiri team when the big guns failed. He always had the wicketkeeper standing up for him as he bowled that nagging line. A very close friend to Junior Kwebiiha and they played together in ACC but Richard didn't stay for the long haul.
- Ben Musenze - Busoga College Mwiri
Big Ben as he was commonly known by his peers was a class wicket keeper batsman. He replaced Keith Legesi when he left the school to continue a rich generation of keeper batsmen who have gone through Mwiri. He loved playing the square-cut so much and was one of the 1st players I saw playing the sweep shot. He is played some club cricket but ultimately dropped the game altogether, he now works with Rubaga Miracle Centre.
- Paul Okatege - Busoga College Mwiri
The best batsman of the 2001 championship was part of a great generation of players to come of Mwiri. He would have played a lot more than he did but due to the vast talent in Mwiri he delayed to feature in schools cricket. He played some club cricket for his home town club JACC but ultimately his busy career could not let him continue with the game. He now works and lives in Nairobi.
- Allan Wegoye - Busoga College Mwiri
Gifted with height and strong shoulders Allan was a nasty fast bowler. Before grass wickets were available he was nasty on those astro pitches. He could also hit the ball a mile whenever his runs were needed. He didn't play much cricket when he left Mwiri and now lives in the USA.
- Atim Ben - Busoga College Mwiri
Tima, as he was popularly known, was very quiet for a big man, he would easily pass for a rugby player but he was a solid batsman. He loved playing over the top and also a very good slip fielder. After Mwiri he studied in South Africa and lost touch with the game but is around Kampala.
- Tom Kakaire - King's College Budo
Tom comes from the cricket-mad family of the Lutaya’s, he was a solid opening batsman with a great technique and also bowled some off-spin. He captained Budo during the 2002 cricket week but he didn't play much after Budo. He is now an Auditor with one of the top audit firms in Kampala.
- Nicholas Mwasame - King’s College Budo.
Mwasame like his tribe mate Wegoye Allan had a strong core and height that allowed them to generate a lot of pace. Mwasame loved bowling toe crushers to batsmen and had an amazing inswinger. He also didn't play much after Budo, Mwasame is a brother in law to the legend Junior Kwebiiha and also a partner with Shonubi Musoke advocates.
- Ngolobe Dennis - King’s College Budo
Nicknamed DNA by his mates Ngolobe was a class batsman, he was one of those youngsters who loved playing on the rise and anchored the innings for Budo while opening the batting. He played for the U17 selected team to Nairobi in 2002 but then lost interest in the game after high school. He worked for while in Uganda with Crane Bank and MTN before moving to Canada.
- Byansi Edgar - Ntare School/Kibuli SSS
Probably the most unlucky cricketer in junior cricket, Edgar was always on the fringes but never broke through. A tough as nuts player who left everything on the cricket oval, he could do anything in cricket he kept wickets, bowled spin and was a craft batsman. He got frustrated and went off the radar of cricket.
- Dennis Kiyingi - Ndejje SSS
Nicknamed stone-cold Dennis was a nasty bowler, he would generate pace from his small body and was a handful for schoolboys. Another tough as nuts bowler who led the attack for Ndejje for a long time. He played some club cricket for ACC but ultimately was taken away by work duties.
- Adam Jumba - King’s College Budo
A class player, Adam was a very good all-rounder who could bowl and bat. He was part of the dream U19 team and also part of the famous Budo team that defeated Mwiri in 2001. He didn't play much after school and is now an accomplished architect in Kampala.
- Donald Ndyabashanga - Ntare School
Donald was an inspirational leader for Ntare when they had a lot of young players coming through. He was a skilful batsman who loved hitting the ball. He didn't play much after Ntare but had left enough youngsters to take the game forward.
Other players who deserve a mention include Hillary Kafuka (Budo), Nsubuga Noel (Mwiri) Emuron Steven (Mwiri), Arnold Byarugaba (Budo), Leon Kigozi (Ndejje).
If you remember some of your early cricket heroes you can share their names with us and we feature them.