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COMMENT: Ugandan cricket can still be saved

Uganda’s cricket team to the WCL 3 in Oman. PHOTO @ICC

COMMENT | By Ivan Thawithemwira  Dear all, as you know by now, the Uganda Cricket team has undergone such a hiding in Oman that it inspires instant migraines. Uganda played five, won one and lost 4 as they were “relegated” to ICC Cricket World Cup Challenge League. (see final standings page 2)

Cricket teams, especially a National Cricket team, is a source of pride and identity for a particular country. Simply put, they are ambassadors. That needs no explanation, but in this case I feel the need to make such a reminder.

A National team is not just any team, it is NATIONAL property and so it should be treated as such. If we keep handling affairs as we are, it will equate to Treason!!

The Oman debacle is a forgettable one, yet it holds the key to our resurrection if closely dissected. I think we have done the wrong things over and over expecting different results, a case Albert Einstein rightly describes as madness!

We need to scrutinize the disease! The results in Oman are only symptoms! But the disease is what we need to deal with in order to find the appropriate cure. And am afraid the disease is self inflicted for the most part!

Poor policies, nepotism and arrogance

What we are witnessing in Oman is a direct result of poor policies, nepotism, arrogance and selfish interests from the responsible parties! If we had qualified to Division 2, it would have been a case of man bites dog!

Here, therefore, is my diagnosis on this matter and I will try to prescribe some treatments!

Suji (left) who handled Uganda before Steve (right) took over. PHOTO via @cricketuganda

Martin Suji!!
This gentleman took Uganda to Division 2. We fired him!! We have not recovered since!! Steve Tikolo has taken us to Division 4, (a proper insult to our cricket heritage and credentials) we renewed his contract! My recommendation; swallow our pride and bring Martin back. Give him the respect due to him!…. and Mr. Martin Suji, am so sorry for the way we treated you.

Select the right team!
There are players on that team that don’t command a starting position in their clubs! But they are tasked with representing a Nation! Ridiculous, if you ask me! That means our league results are not the basis of team selection. We might as well close up the league and let whoever the coach likes play for the country! In a recent game I was involved in (Strikers Vs. Aziz Damani), some National team players were left out of Aziz’s starting XI! The ones that started, other than the bowlers, were batting as low as 7 and beyond.

The one that played a major role is a reserve on the National team! Which tells me either of two things is true; Aziz Damani team selection panel, (which consists, I would assume, of the Captain and the coach, who turns out to be the National team coach too), is biased or the players simply aren’t good enough! I’ll leave that for debate.If you ask my opinion, Akankwasa Frank and Olipa Rogers should have been in Oman since they command a starting place in a newly promoted side from our local division 2 and have condemned some of the National team players to the bench! And I won’t say a thing about Katungi Zephaniah and Wazombe Perry who were causing national team players severe headache and concerns that morning. Newly promoted team!

Reward good performances in the league!
Kyobe was dropped because “he talks too much”! Yet he had solved many of our opening batsman problems. He had one bad tournament and all of a sudden “he talks too much!” He could argue that you’re all “quite”! We have a boy who easily is the fastest bowler in Africa outside South Africa, but he can’t get picked because “he’s still young!” And yet he’s mopping up batting lineups in the league. Meanwhile Kagiso Rabada and Alzarri Joseph, both 21 and David’s age mates have already played tests!

Uganda vs USA at the WCL 3 in Oman. PHOTO @ICC

In all Uganda’s success stories in cricket, there were no “bacuba”! The only good ones were Mpho (he had character and fight and runs), and Riazat! (And it won’t be easy to find these very often). Junior Kwebiiha, Kenneth Kamyuka, Benjamin Musoke, down to Ronald Ssemanda et all, home-grown and indigenous. We have always found ways to hustle and survive with our own. Wherever the idea of “bacuba” came from is a mystery but one that has had adverse effects, than remedial! It has put dark and horrifying blindfolds on our eyes and inspired laziness knowing someone else will do our job. And am afraid this debilitating virus has seeped right into our schools!

Mwiri, Jinjja SS are now using bacuba! Mwiri of all schools! This is an institution that once had such surplus resources that they produced two teams for cricket week! To see them “shopping” from Kololo SS is such an embarrassment! What we have now is Mukono Parents and St. John’s even threatening the hierarchy of schools cricket, yet if you randomly asked a student in one of those schools what cricket is, they’ll think you’re speaking Greek!

Solution? Get rid of “ba-Cuba!!
Most of them are happy to report on Facebook how they just walked into a National side. We have never lacked talent in this country! Never! We can easily go to Division 4 without bacuba! We didn’t need them to get us there. Stop finding “instant” solutions to “lasting” problems. Work on “foundations”. Build systems that will generate players. Find a player retention system that will keep your best players around! Don’t cry about lack of money, it has become an archaic song irritating to the cochleae! Find means! Musana Felix runs an academy in Soroti out of his own pocket and he’s just a regular employee. How about a National board?


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