In cricket, the start better be good because it is the most important bit of the innings.
Take a look at the greatest cricket sides; they all have/had solid opening pairs to set up solid platforms that help ease pressure on the rest by either putting a huge score or chasing an enormous total. This, after all, like the old English adage goes; “cricket is a batsman’s game and runs on board are always runs on board”.
Uganda host the ICC World Cricket League Division III starting next week and coach Steve Tikolo has trusted Challengers’ opening pair of Ham Bagenda Kayondo and Arthur Kyobe with the task of being that duo to do the early damage when the games start.
“They bring the left/right hand combination at the top order,” Tikolo told Daily Monitor in an exclusive interview.
“They help to disorganise the opposition in terms of lines the opposition bowlers will have to bowl and also disorganise the opposition’s field settings if the batsmen rotate the strike consistently.”
The duo which first hit the crease together in 2013 when Uganda was touring South Africa against Province sides, before Kayondo would join Kyobe in Challengers for the bromance to flourish have now grown to understand and appreciate each other on and off the oval.
“In Kyobe, I have someone who understands me. He asses my situation and advises me accordingly because of his experience,” Kayondo told Daily Monitor.
Kyobe on the other hand sees Kayondo as a brother.” We are more like brothers on and off pitch,” says the left-hander about his partner in crime at both club and country level.
“We train together. We hang together and we complement and correct each other on top of learning from one another.”
Opening pairs are never short of memorable innings and the two can never forget immensely contributing to the chasing down of Tornado Bee’s 196 runs in the T20 National League quarterfinal as they helping Challengers complete a stiff chase for the club’s second title in 2016.
“We put on a 100 plus in less than seven overs,” recalls Kayondo who wants more of such innings at the global showpiece.
But the brotherly pair who can equally be comical admit that there will be enormous pressure as they try to wrestle the advantage Uganda’s way.
“Pressure is a constant but we have to stand up on the big stage. When I see him (Kayondo) on the other side, all I need is to face the first ball and the rest just works itself out,” says Kyobe, who debuted for Uganda a decade ago.
Both Kayondo and Kyobe think Uganda can win the tournament and brighten their chances of qualifying for the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup in England & Wales, if everyone on the team plays their respective role.
“If we score the runs and field well, Uganda can win it,” Kyobe shares his thoughts while Kayondo hopes to make the best of the home tournament. “Considering that we are at home and that we have been at this level for long, I fancy our chances,” added Kayondo.
And there will be ample back up for the opening combo in the trio of star-batsman Roger Mukasa, Shahzad Ukani Kamal and youngster Arnold Otwani when Uganda open their campaign against Canada at Lugogo Oval on May 23.