Monday February 24 2014

Cricket in need of a facelift after debacle Down Under

By Robert Madoi

News this past week that two renegade Cricket Cranes players stationed in New Zealand had turned themselves to authorities Down Under must have been welcomed with relief as much as anything at the Uganda Cricket Association (UCA).

It has been a distressful couple of weeks for the local cricket body since Raymond Otim and Faruk Ochimi went off the radar after ‘helping’ Uganda secure the wooden spoon at the 2014 ICC World Cup Qualifier.
When the Cricket Cranes set off for the New Zealand suburb of Whakatane, anecdotal evidence of Otim and Ochimi’s planned disappearing acts were a public secret of sorts.

Owing to this, Otim and Ochimi were supposed to have been under lock and key. Their every movement was supposed to be monitored. Except, it wasn’t.
Otim and Ochimi vanished right under the noses of UCA officials.
In so doing, Ugandan cricket’s reputation of producing renegade players was, well, strengthened.

Cricket players have now vanished in Australia, Canada, and – of course – New Zealand after major tournaments. We have – for all intents and purposes – consequently made headlines for all the wrong reasons.
Such a hideous reputation could of course have a fatal impact in as far as being singled out for not so good treatment is concerned.
Where visas used to be procured in record time, an unpleasant sluggishness could well take centre-stage.

Turning themselves in and making a valiant case of the grass being greener in New Zealand might help iron out a few wrinkles here and there. But it’s pretty safe to say that the damage is done. Three high profile disappearances in Australia, Canada and New Zealand frame a narrative that doesn’t do Ugandan cricket justice.

Why Magomu retirement does more than pop eyes

So, for the first time since 2008, Heathens’ name won’t be chiselled -- metaphorically speaking, by the way -- on the league trophy. Heathens’ sworn rivals, Kobs, mean business so much so they won the league with an unblemished record last weekend.

Whether the men in blue will go on to equal their landmark of the 2006 season when they swept all trophies on offer remains to be seen. Heathens or Buffaloes may have a thing or two to say about that.

Not so long ago, Pirates would have been a singled out as a contender in the chasing pack. Not anymore. The Pirates remarkably flirted with relegation all season. After shrugging the monkey off the back, you would expect the 2007 Uganda Cup winners to be sighing with relief. They aren’t. Mercurial flyhalf, Ivan Magomu, is giving them all sorts of migraines. See, Magomu is taking an early sabbatical from rugby.

Together with Eric Butime, Magomu was the odd spark in what was inarguably an uneventful league season for Pirates.

The youngster anchored Pirates’ back line superbly. It was fitting last weekend when, on his swan song, Magomu twinkle-toed his way to the first of three tries Pirates plundered against Sadolin Mongers.

With his best days visibly ahead of them, one cannot help but wonder why Magomu is slamming the door on a budding career! Magomu’s ability to run and kick had marked him out for greatness. It had doubtless singled him out as a No.10 who would break the mold of old urban conventionalism.

So, what happened? Well, Magomu’s is a classic case of someone -- a young imp -- throwing their toys out of the pram.

He is, I’m afraid, the very embodiment of a prima donna.
After failing to swap Pirates for Kobs, Magomu is trying to force his erstwhile paymaster’s hand. The long term contract the half-back has/had with Pirates meant that it would take something special to prise him. Details about the deal that Magomu made with Pirates are far and few between. It, however, appears that staying at Pirates for a protracted spell was a quid pro quo for footing the youngster’s fees.

Whether the merits and demerits of entering such a deal were made clear to Magomu is hard to tell. Decisions always have consequences, but it seems our sports personalities wouldn’t care less.

Magomu’s tale says just as much! Often time an incredibly parochial worldview forces Ugandan sports personalities into making fatal decisions.
This has to stop! More thought needs to be put into decision-making processes.

It quite frankly leaves a nauseating taste in the mouth. The repercussions could be more pulverising. They could well get us vomiting.
Needless to say, we need to nip this vice in the bud before it burns our fingers. Over to you, UCA.