There is big reason to embrace the country’s sportsmen as Uganda has registered a number of successes on the sporting front this year.
Joshua Cheptegei’s 10,000m gold and Halimah Nakaayi’s iconic 800m triumph World Athletics Championiships, as well as Uganda Cranes’ progress past the group stage at the Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt, top that list.
It’s actually been a great year in case you add the five medals scooped in boxing, athletics and chess from the African Games in Morocco back in the August - September period.
Ordinarily, the expectations from national teams and the athletes have gone up and greater bare minimums set ahead of any championships.
This is something Uganda’s senior men’s cricket team has to counter when they feature at the ICC Cricket World Cup Challenge League (WCCL) B, which bowls off tomorrow morning in Al Amerat, Oman.
The Cricket Cranes have bottled it at their past two major tournaments; finishing last at the ICC World Cricket League Division in Oman a year ago, before missing out on the top two places at the ICC Africa Men’s Twenty20 Cup Finals at home back in May.
If it were any other sport with a more vocal audience, Uganda Cricket Association (UCA) should have parted ways with coach Steve Tikolo. The Kenyan actually had walked away, but UCA chose to stick with him for the trip to the Middle East.
This WCCL B will be played in three rounds and Uganda hosts the second one next year but it offers them no room for complacency or error.
Tikolo and his assistant Jackson Ogwang made five changes from the team that crumbled in Lugogo six months ago and the codes must work against opponents like Bermuda, Kenya, Jersey, Italy and Hong Kong.
This will probably also serve as a check to veterans like Frank Nsubuga, whose batting figures have dwindled.
The top-order, of course, has the biggest duty, with the batting area which has been the nation’s Achilles heel.
Had it not been the problems to do with expression in between the wickets, Uganda would probably be an ODI (One Day International) status nation like Nepal, Scotland, Ireland, UAE and Netherlands, all whom have by passed the East African nation in the last 15 years.
Even if ICC uncreated money for its Associate Members, Uganda’s cricket deserves more than an average $331,000 (Shs1.2b) annually.
An ODI status is on cards should the Cricket Cranes form a solid show in Oman.