Holders Kololo Secondary School are undoubtedly the team to beat. But if pre-tournament signs are anything to go by, they will have to stretch more than a muscle if they are to retain their Pepsi Schools Cricket Week title.
With the 12 teams having reported at City High School yesterday, action bowls off today and runs until August 31 at five different ovals including Lugogo, Kyambogo, Budo astro-turf, Budo grass-wicket and Agha Khan.
The undeniable truth remains that coach Jackson Ogwang’s Kololo Secondary School has been so dominant in recent years with a haul of six titles in the last seven years.
But the other 11 competing schools didn’t go to bed after last year’s showpiece and will be expected to put up a fight as they attempt to end Kololo’s stranglehold on the biggest local schools cricket tournament.
Coach Ogwang, too, is well aware of the task ahead as the T20 showpiece gets underway. “We have been keeping tabs on the opposition,” the Charity all-rounder told Sunday Monitor. “We acknowledge they (opponents) have been working hard in the nets with the help of some good coaches. But we are not about to surrender our title.”
In last year’s rain-hampered final, Kololo defeated 15-time record champions Busoga College Mwiri by six wickets. And Mwiri, who last won the title in 2009, are boiling with vengeance. “Kololo will need another slice of luck to beat us again,” Mwiri team manager Rodney Mugisha said. “We have young talent coming through the ranks that will break their dominance.”
Kololo SS suffered a shock defeat to Mukono Parents in the final of this year’s Central Region qualifiers. They therefore come into this tournament with their pride and confidence battered in a way. This could work in Mwiri and other teams’ advantage.
Mukono, who have made the last three semifinals, are still favourites to make the last four with hopes of reaching a maiden final. The side produced last year’s Man-of-Series in Lawrence Sempijja, who picked 18 wickets and made a total 276 runs in eight innings.
Sempijja was also the best player at the ICC Africa U-19 World Cup Qualifiers held here in May. Jinja SS and Agha Khan will also provide tough opposition with the latter banking on batsmen U-16 opener Vishnu Manepali and U-19 star Dhaval Patel.
Jinja boast other U-19 players in all-rounder Kenneth Waiswa and paceman Ivan Baidhu.
2002 - Jinja Secondary School
2003 - Busoga College Mwiri
2004 - Busoga College Mwiri
2005 - Busoga College Mwiri
2006 - Kololo SS
2007 - Kololo
2008 - Kololo
2009 - Busoga College Mwiri
2010 - Kololo
2011 - Kololo
2012 – Kololo
PARTICIPATING TEAMS: Kololo SS, St. James SS, BS Mwiri, Jinja SS, Busoga High, Ntare School, Masaka SS, Nyakasura School, Agha Khan, Kings’ College Budo, Ndejje SS and Mukono Parents