Despite being shredded by Jersey spinners, Uganda put on a good collective batting performance en route to winning the ICC World Cricket League Division Four tournament on the slow South East Asia wickets of Malaysia.
That the wickets were neither belters nor featherbeds and the bowling anything but cafeteria shows the magnitude of work that has been done by Cricket Cranes coach, Steve Tikolo. Bar the major meltdown against Jersey when the Cricket Cranes were all-out for 90, Ugandan batsmen got to scoreboard ticking, at times with absurd ease.
The Cricket Cranes scored in the excess of 200 runs during wins against Bermuda, Vanuatu and Denmark. Uganda was in fact unlucky not to cross 200 (it was bowled out for 199 while chasing 209) as Malaysia clinched a controversial last-over win during the first day of the round robin tournament. Deus Muhumuza, the last Uganda batsman dismissed, was adjudged run-out despite replays showing that the ball never hit the stumps at all!
While some observers are less inclined to laud the Cricket Cranes on account of opposition in Division Four being less than stellar, a common sporting adage reminds us that you can only vanquish what is put before you. What makes Uganda’s performance in Malaysia all the more pleasing is the fact that the Cricket Cranes were shorn of the services of Shahzad Kamal at the 11th hour. The top order batsman was expected to see Uganda through its innings in the event that opposing bowlers claimed the scalps of explosive openers — skipper Roger Mukasa and youngster Simon Ssesazi.
Work commitments, however, meant that Shahzad had to sit out the trip. As it turns out, he was not sorely missed. This was largely because Hamu Bagenda Kayondo stepped up his game to show that he too can anchor Uganda’s innings.
Elsewhere, cameos with the bat from youngsters Kenneth Waiswa and Fred Achellam showed that they can provide much-needed fireworks down the batting order.
Make no mistake, though, there is still work to be done from a batting perspective. The green shoots that popped up amidst the surprising cocktail of humidity and monsoons in Malaysia, however, thankfully sum up something refreshingly positive. Uganda might not entirely be out of the woods, but the future looks bright.