A week ago, Uganda’s flickering hopes of competing in the Pepsi International Cricket Council (ICC) World Cricket League Division III that gets underway in Bermuda tomorrow until May 5 were on the brink of vanishing after the team faced visa hitches.
And in a week’s time, the Ugandan cricket fraternity will know whether their team will be on another airbus for a deserved but tedious voyage to New Zealand for the 2014 ICC Global World Cup Qualifier.
From being denied visas for the first time since national cricket teams started representing the nation way back in 1970s to making the trip to last Tuesday, the team’s 18-month preparations were almost reduced to naught.
“That is water under the bridge,” head coach Martin Suji told SCORE. “We are now focused on the job at hand and the onus is on the guys to deliver.”
But this is not the first time, Uganda find themselves in this precarious situation. The national stars, coached by veteran ace Sam Walusimbi then, won the inaugural Div III ICC WCL showpiece in Darwin, Australia in June 2007.
Then they flirted between mediocrity and genius bouncing back and forth between Div II and III with the epitome earning a spot at the 2009 ICC Global World Cup Qualifier in South Africa after another flawless display in Argentina at the beginning of the year.
That campaign ended in pain as Uganda finished 10th. Yet at the same showpiece, Uganda have played out close-shaves with ODI-status candidates Scotland, Canada and Namibia. A further ranking drop came to skipper Davis Karashani’s team at the 2011 Div. II showpiece in Dubai.
Uganda stuttered and flattered to deceive enroute to a fifth-place finish that justified the drop to the current status in Div. III.
During that showpiece, Uganda played half-hearted cricket and paid the price as they ended as woeful losers – the one run loss to Papua New Guinea sealing ‘our’ fate as a spineless side.
“After two years, we are hungrier as ever,” said Karashani. “We will try and transform our T20 success to the 50-over format by sticking to our brand of cricket.”
Been there and done that, the cricketers know what is at stake and can turn the corner, if they decide.
Tomorrow: Bermuda vs. Uganda
(National Sports Stadium)
Monday, April 29: Nepal vs. Uganda (Somerset CC Oval)
Wednesday, May 1: Uganda vs. Italy (National Sports Stadium)
Thursday, May 2: USA vs. Uganda (St. David’s Oval)
Saturday, May 4: Uganda vs. Oman (Somerset CC Oval)
Sunday, May 5: Playoff finals (National Sports Stadium)
TEAM TO BERMUDA
Players: Karashani (captain), Benjamin Musoke, Roger Mukasa, Lawrence Ssematimba, Frank Nsubuga (vice-captain), Brian Masaba, Arthur Kyobe, Charles Waiswa, Michael Ndiko, Deus Muhumuza, Henry Ssenyondo, Arthur Ziraba, Jonathan Ssebanja and Richard Okia. Coaches: Martin Suji, Steve Tikolo, Delegation head: Jackson Kavuma