In the wake of the senior men national cricket team’s recent success at the International Cricket Council Division III World Cricket League showpiece in Bermuda, many stakeholders have boldly come out to take some shine off the players’ hard earned success.
But not coaches Martin Suji and Steve Tikolo. The media, both local and international, has been awash with stories heaping praise on the two former Kenya World Cup players citing their team’s progress to the 2014 ICC World Cup Qualifier in New Zealand as a testament to their coaching skills.
Batting coach Tikolo, a veteran of five World Cups, is however quick to water down the praises. “I believe the players are the ones who deserve the accolades,” said the 41-year-old. “As coaches, we do our job behind the scenes - preparing and guiding the players. But at the end of the day, the players are the ones who step on the field and perform. The lads played and fought well for their country. We are proud of their achievements.”
Head coach Suji chipped in; “The players did it for Uganda and themselves. The wickets we played on were not easy surfaces but the guys really showed character which is an important thing in their careers.” Tikolo singled out the game against Italy as the highlight of the tournament. “The way the guys fought back after posting only 114 was stellar,” he explained to SCORE.
“The Italians were celebrating at the lunch interval thinking it was match over but they were stunned to see that they could only make 91. The effort in the field and slow bowlers (read spinners) won us so many games.
Although the surfaces were really turning big, the batsmen managed to play out the overs.”
Talking batting, Tikolo hinted that more work was to be done with the batsmen in preparation for future tournaments.
“Like I always say, Uganda’s batting is a work in progress. Before they (team) couldn’t bat out 50 overs. And now that they can, we will look to see how we (coaches) can teach them to graft more. All this team needs is the support of the association (Uganda Cricket Association). Give them a chance and see what they will do.”
Charles Waiswa, who led Uganda’s successful bowling attack, paid tribute to left-hand opening batsman Arthur Kyobe and wicket-keeper batsman Lawrence Ssematimba.
“Kyobe held our innings at the top. He was solid and then Ssematimba worked the singles when he came in,” said Waiswa, who finished with 6 wickets at a cost of only 92 runs in 32 overs.
“As a bowler you have got to be bowling at a certain total and whereas we didn’t score many runs, the batsmen ensured there was enough to work around with.”
This triumph takes us to the ICC World Cup Qualifier in New Zealand next year where we meet the top 10 Associates; hence Afghanistan, Ireland, Scotland, Canada, Kenya, Netherlands, United Arab Emirates, Namibia, Hong Kong and Papua New Guinea. Uganda goes to this tournament with the other qualifier from Bermuda.
And then the first two sides in New Zealand progress to the 2015 World Cup! The next four (hence top six) join them in Division I World Cricket League and their matches amongst themselves get ODI status. And then the next four stay in Division II with the last two getting demoted back to Division III. The top eight will also get to play ICC Intercontinental Cup matches - if ICC doesn’t remove that tournament!
Although Uganda didn’t scoop the trophy, there was some poetic justice in the fact that finalists Uganda and Nepal were the two squads that found it difficult to get into Bermuda because of visa hitches in the first place. Only 11th hour interventions from several authorities saw the teams stagger to Bermuda with less than four days to the showpiece. Such hindrances pumped up both teams not only to do well and earn qualification to the 2014 ICC World Cup Qualifier in New Zealand but also silence their critics. Whereas Uganda won their first four games and lost the last two, it was vice-versa for Nepal who recovered from two losses to win the last four rubbers.
UGANDA’S FULL RESULTS IN BERMUDA
Warm up - April 26
U.S.A. 304/10 Uganda 118/10
U.S.A. won by 186 runs
Uganda 222/7 Bermuda 108/10
Uganda won by 114 runs