Monday February 3 2014

How a vicious cycle has damned Ugandan cricket

Hamza Saleh (with bat) and the rest of the

Hamza Saleh (with bat) and the rest of the Cricket Cranes will now play in ICC Division III. MONITOR PHOTO 


ICC World Cricket League Division Three is what Uganda will have to contend with after a listless performance at the just-concluded ICC World Cup Qualifier in New Zealand.

For the record, the Cricket Cranes ended the qualifier with the wooden spoon after failing to win a single match. The performances were pretty ropy thanks to problems that have over the years become familiar -- a deep-seated failure to play spin and a sheer disregard for time-tested batting basics (rotating the strike, playing with a straight bat, etc).

So, we find ourselves asking that simple yet pertinent question: what next? Well, it’s hard to tell for sure what’s next. One thing that we cannot deny, though, is that the road ahead looks every inch long and dusty. For one, the coffers will be devoid of the under three billion shillings that a berth in the World Cricket League Division Two guarantees.

The shoe string budget that the Uganda Cricket Association (UCA) will now operate on may not necessary impel officials to headquarter their offices in a container at Lugogo, but it will nonetheless trigger austerity measures. Your columnist doesn’t need to have a crystal ball in my possession to do this fortune-telling. No. The aftermath of Uganda’s no-show in New Zealand will be felt in the pocket. Players will doubtless feel the pinch. Elsewhere, the Cricket Cranes’ back room staff maybe rejigged. UCA’s language will gravitate toward the cost cutting branch of economics.

The association will then threaten to crack the whip on players in a bid to make the penny drop. Players will then come out of their shells, boss the World Cricket League Division Three. Confetti will be sprinkled in the air and champagne bottles uncorked when the Cricket Cranes get another crack at joining the World Cricket League Division Two. A high profile coach will promptly be brought on board in a bid to secure a big pay day. Uganda will fall short and the vicious cycle will play out again and again.

The key thing therefore should be a move to snap this vicious cycle that has long held Ugandan cricket captive. A probe of the deep cultural malaise afflicting the sport shows that several rounds of papering over cracks have rage on unabated.

This has to immediately stop if the plug is to be pulled on Uganda’s story of torment and turmoil. It’s that simple, really. But then again just like the basics of batting, simple things don’t appeal to cricket stakeholders.
What a shame! Hello, vicious cycle!

Achon lockout leaves UAF with egg on face

So, that line of ‘an election being rigged in Uganda’ tucked away in the James Bond film ‘Skyfall’ got currency two weeks ago.
The media was awash with accounts of purported machinations from the Dominic Otuchet camp that left Julius Achon seething.
Those that know Achon well will tell you that he is the very embodiment of a gentleman. The soft spoken Otuke-born former two-time Olympian, they add, rarely lies through his teeth.
Although he never reproduced the razzmatazz he drop at the 1994 World Junior Championships where he won gold in the 1500m, Ugandans have always had a soft spot for Achon.

This could solely be down to the fact that his was always bound to be a compelling story. Aged only 12, Achon was conscripted by Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebels. That was in 1988. A skirmish between the LRA and UPDF that same year precipitated Achon’s escape from the shackles of servitude.
As Achon ran away from bondage to Otuke, little did he know that the legs helping him escape from Joseph Kony and Co. would win him acclaim. On those very two legs -- the ones that carried him from the jaws of despair to the wide arms of hope -- Achon ran to a junior world championship title and two Olympics Games (1996 and 2000) for good measure.

When he brought down the curtain on his competitive running career, Achon embarked on a CSR project that has given children in war-ravaged northern Uganda hope.

Incepted in 2007, the Achon Uganda Children’s Fund has helped change the livelihoods of vulnerable and marginalised people in Lango sub-region.
Achon has also helped unearth new blood by holding various athletics competitions.

All this makes one wonder why one would move to exclude such an affable person from the Uganda Athletics Federation’s elective assembly!
Such machinations should stop forthwith not only to starve the film industry of broadsides, but also to steer the sport in the right direction.

We know that artificial turf is going to be rolled out at the KCCA Stadium in Lugogo. The Fifa Development Officer for Eastern and Southern African, Ashford Mamelodi, made the revelation during his latest visit to Uganda.
The home of KCCA FC, we know that KCCA Stadium has been punching above its weight Tiny but with well-manicured greens, the stadium got a feather in its cap when it hosted some Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup matches in 2012.
The fact that its illustrious opposite number, Nakivubo War Memorial Stadium, was overlooked added to the former’s stock.
But now we know that the KCCA Stadium will take on the baggage that synthetic surfaces grapple with the world over.

The susceptibilities to injuries and heat hazards in an unforgiving subtropical terrain such as Uganda herald a turf (read tough) war ahead. That we know for sure!