Monday April 28 2014

New captain will complete the Cricket Cranes puzzle

The columnist thinks a batting captain like either Mukasa  should

The columnist thinks a batting captain like Mukasa should take over from Karashani. PHOTO BY INNOCENT NDAWULA 

By Robert Madoi

Change of guard. The captaincy is to cricket what a radar is to a ferry. The debate about who will step into Davis Karashani’s slippers as the next cricket captain should have, in fact, started yesterday!

We all know what whets the tastebuds in that holy trinity of bread, salty fatty beef and piquant sauce otherwise known as a sandwich. The quintessentially streaky contents in the middle, right?

And so it was with cricket last week. The middle was such a whet! Sandwiched by the Girls Cricket Week final (comfortably won by Jinja SSS) and the introduction of night cricket to the menu was the juicy unveiling of the senior men’s (Davis Turinawe) as well as women’s (Frank Nsubuga) national team coaches. A new role of Development Manager was also thrown into the equation, with former Cricket Cranes bowler and coach, Henry Okecho, asked to hold the fort.

The drive to have Ugandan cricket turn the corner has began in earnest! It promises to be a long bumpy ride.

Like any bumpy ride, the jolts and jerks will sure bring lots of discomfort. The eyes shouldn’t at any point be taken off the finish line, though.

Uganda Cricket Association (UCA) shouldn’t cringe away when the odd bouncer rattles its characteristically soft underbelly. It should soldier on in what will doubtless be a commendable attempt to grow the game from the grassroots.

It is indeed refreshing to know that UCA is reverting to a blueprint that brought it so much acclaim at the turn of the 21st century.

The mini cricket and schools development programmes were starting to look like relics of a lost cause. The Schools Cricket Week, for one, was buckling under the strain of neglect from UCA.

Smell the coffee
This as UCA went for jugular with an end-all in the shape of Cricket Cranes. That pet project of course fell flat on its face when the well-remunerated South African coach, Johan Rudolph, oversaw a forgettable 2014 ICC World Cup Qualifier campaign, which ended in disgrace with Uganda holding the wooden spoon. Now that fingers have been burnt, UCA officials are waking up to smell the coffee. They should be commended for that.

They could have dropped the cup of coffee in the first place! I believe this bold stroke should also be replicated when the issue of the Cricket Cranes captaincy comes up for debate. The Cricket Cranes will feature in ICC World Cricket League Division III later this year, and can ill-afford another listless display.

With Davis Karashani tacitly indicating that he wants to loosen his grip on the captaincy, UCA’s technical arm finds itself having to swiftly act. The captaincy is to cricket what a radar is to a ferry. Needless to say, the Cricket Cranes captaincy has to be treated with the utmost seriousness. The debate about who will step into Karashani’s slippers should have in fact started yesterday!

If you asked me for my two cents on this, I would say we cherry-pick a batting captain - preferably Roger Mukasa or Hamza Saleh. I believe handing the captaincy to either of the two will help them mature.

Heck, it will make them bat with the responsibility demanded of a team’s bedrock.
Captaincy won’t be new to Saleh who once skippered the national under-19 side. As for Mukasa, I reckon he is streetwise enough to hold his own. Mukasa or Saleh it is for me then! How about you?

Ssentamu needs to tread carefully while with AS Vita in Congo

It was extremely difficult not to welcome news of Yunus Ssentamu’s move from Vipers SC to Democratic Republic of Congo’s AS Vita with a pinch of salt.

Ssentamu shot to fame early this year when his ‘Cinderella Story’ climaxed rather splendidly with those three well-taken goals at the African Nations Championship (Chan) finals in South Africa.

A hitherto unknown quantity who had at one time tried a hand at goalkeeping,
Ssentamu showed the proverbial old head on young shoulders in South Africa. Small wonder, many South African suitors - such as Amazulu - felt affection for Ssentamu. They had been swayed by the teenage striker’s predatory instincts in the box!

Yet Ssentamu would repel advances from a multitude of South African clubs in preference for AS Vita. It was a remarkable, if intriguing, choice not just because Congolese club football pales in comparison to its South African opposite number.

That fact in itself is worrisome, but it doesn’t begin to capture the scale of damage Ugandans have taken on their chin whilst playing football in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The trail of devastation that has been left behind suggests that our eastern neighbour, DRC, is a graveyard for our footballers. Empirical evidence says as much. DRC is the greatest enemy of many a Ugandan sports personality.

Spasms of regression have typified the stay of many Ugandan footballers in DRC. Godfrey Walusimbi’s sojourn in CS Don Bosco (sounds more like the name of a lead bass guitarist than a club!) was as painful as they get!

Patrick Ochan and Mike Mutyaba fared no better, falling on lean times in this vast, unforgiving central African country.

Will Ssentamu be an exception to the norm? It’s hard to tell principally because none of us has a crystal ball. But looking at the hefty sign-on fee that Sentamu pocketed (reported to be in the region of $40,000), one cannot help but conclude that the young striker moved for, well, none footballing reasons.

Your columnist has been one of the fiercest critics of sign-on fees. I have always opined that sign-on fees propagate a nomadic lifestyle where footballers make repeated movements with their eyes primarily set on the big paydays they enjoy after signing on the dotted line. Football often plays out the second, impoverished cousin in these circumstances.
I desperately hope I’m wrong about Ssentamu on this occasion. I really hope so!

What we now know....

We now know that American-based pugilist Kassim Ouma had a brush with the law two Fridays ago.

This after the former IBF junior middleweight champion knocked the cold out of a man he accused of making improper gay advances.

We all know that Ouma can, well, pack a punch. His punches, which he used to throw at such a blinding speed when he was at the peak of his powers, have seen him win 27 of the 32 professional fights tucked under his belt.

Sixteen of those 27 wins have come courtesy of KOs. Those close to Ouma have always painted a picture that has led us to believe that he has a short fuse. We know that the unnamed man who made improper advances felt the full wrath of Ouma’s homophobia. Ouma’s fit of anger didn’t go with impunity, this we know for sure.
The 35-year-old Ugandan was slapped with a battery charge. Those who went to law school will tell you battery is a criminal offense that is distinctly different from assault in the sense that involves unlawful physical contact.

robertmadoi@gmail.com, @robertmadoi

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