Warriors shine in tough year
Posted Thursday, January 3 2013 at 02:00
Cricket. Tornado, Tornado B, Charity and local franchise Rwenzori sparkled in a hard year for national teams.
The past 12 months delivered a reality check for Uganda. The year started with the senior men’s team heading to Dubai to restore Uganda’s dented pride in vain and ended with the Ugandan women licking bruised wounds after failing to progress at the ICC Africa Women’s Regional Qualifier in Tanzania.
But in the between there were a few flashes of brilliance with one of the local franchises Warriors unexpectedly dominating the East Africa Premier League and East African Cup where they won the former and finished second in the latter.
The under-19 girls gave the fraternity something to cheer about when they lifted the ICC Africa Twenty20 crown in the second half of the year. But no year that ends with two failures to qualify for global showpieces and a fall in Associate ranking can be deemed a success. Uganda is ranked 12th among Associates from ninth at the end of 2011.
Man of the Year
For over a decade, the Ugandan public has been waiting for the real Benjamin Musoke to emerge. In 2012, at age 36, he finally did. Musoke was a driven man, determined to play his shots around a solid defence and to play them to the right balls.
The outstanding result was more than 800 runs across all tournaments either for Team Uganda, Tornado or Nile Knights; a man of match display in the Division I Multiple Industries National League title decider against Wanderers. To make it more worthwhile, the man known as ‘Benzo’ also dug deep in his pockets to cater for fellow players’ welfare more often than not at Tornado, who won the season-opening Champions Trophy.
Tornado and Tornado B’s won the Division I and Division II National Leagues respectively. It justified that organisation off the oval culminates into positive results on the pitch.
A big year looms for both sister clubs especially Tornado B, who bounced back into the top flight after a year hustling with the minnows. On the national scene, Jinja SS’s eight-wicket win over Gayaza High helped them reclaim the Girls Cricket Week title whereas Kololo SS defeated record-winners Busoga College Mwiri in a much-improved Boys’ Cricket Week that saw an improvement in the general standards exhibited.
Charity Trust Fund were also untouchable for the second year running in the National Women’s League and T20 Mehta Premier League. The captaincy of Flavia Laker and experience of Barbara Mukankusi helped Charity across the line whenever any side stood in their final paths.
The new sponsorship deals of Mehta, Pepsi and Multiple Industries also proved that local cricket may no longer be the corporates’ favourite sport but that the secretariat in Nakawa is doing everything possible to interest both new and old friends in revamping the image of the gentleman’s game.
There were many both on and off the field. No one will forget South Africa’s reportedly third choice team bowling out our women for 28 runs in Dar es Salaam and the senior national men’s outfit finishing 14th out of 16 in Dubai after picking two wins from their first two games.
There might be nothing the men’s team could have done but the women’s team had so many tourists. It was without four senior players; Stella Atim, Mackenzie Ayato, Mary Nanderenga and Christine Aryemo.
The latter is the only woman to score a century and whereas the other trio are an active bunch; they distanced themselves from national training sessions and trials. There is also the small matter of three sisters of national bowler Charles Waiswa; Justine Musubika, Betty Kalende and Hellen Naudo, who have continued to stay away under unclear circumstances irrespective of their proven quality. Sport is forgiving and these wounds, inflicted off the oval, must be healed soonest or else women’s cricket will remain the biggest joke in Ugandan sport.
Faraway off the oval, the death of former Nile Cricket Club player George Buyinza left the game poorer of a good young man, cheerful friend and fierce competitor. The lively pace bowler lost a battle to Osteosarcoma. He died on August 6, a couple of days to his 23rd birthday in Rush Hospital, Chicago. His loss was hard for many to contend with especially his Nile teammates, who fittingly retired his No. 6 jersey. RIP mate!
New kid on the block
An unknown quantity two years ago, Mary Nalule was the sheep among wolves in women’s cricket. Only 16 years old, she worked her way to the top and was pivotal as Charity dominated the local scene and the U-19 girls won the African title. Her ‘never say die’ attitude saw her elevated to the senior women’s team and she emerged as the best bowler during the no show in Dar es Salaam with nine wickets.
There were, however, a few blips in her season as proved by returns in the Girls Cricket Week as her school Kololo flattered to deceive. Nalule, however, has the time, and the talent to make a lasting impression. The comeback king is Michael Ndiko, who at 35, ended his self-imposed sabbatical, scored a bucketful of runs for Nile and Warriors, which helped him force his way back into the national team.
Wanderers choking ways earn them this undesired gong. For a decade, the traditional giants have won nothing. In do-or-die fixture against Tornado, routine catches were dropped and their batsmen collapsed on a blameless pitch. No wonder their players are the laughing stock of everyone.