KAMPALA- The mood is always perfect when the senior national men’s cricket team is almost air bound for duty. And it did not differ from the usual pomp, smiles on expectant faces as National Council of Sports (NCS) General Secretary David Katende flagged off the Cricket Cranes to Oman for the ICC World Cricket League (WCL) Division Three showpiece on Friday at Lugogo.
They are in company of new partners Endiro Coffee whose Brand Manager Cody Lorance hosted the travelling contingent, key stake holders and Uganda Cricket Association (UCA) bosses to a farewell dinner at Kisementi Branch last evening.
“We believe this team is immensely talented and we want to grow with the game,” Lorance said, “We are optimistic that this partnership will soar the heights,” added the American. Coach Steve Tikolo’s side will this afternoon fly to the Arabian Peninsula to face a rather familiar task that they have failed before.
Last year, the Cranes failed to utilise home advantage at the WCL Division Three and were relegated for the first time to the WCL Division Four which they won in Malaysia back in April.
On bouncing back, the fraternity forgave their ‘sins’. “We learnt the lessons after last year’s shock failure,” Tikolo’s assistant Jackson Ogwang told Sunday Monitor moments after Katende handed skipper Roger Mukasa the flag.
Now the mission in Oman to gain ultimate healing as Uganda bids to finish in the two top positions at the six-nation tournament and earn a lucrative WCL Division II status within the 2017-22 cycle that determines qualification to the 2023 World Cup. “We are taking every game like it is a final,” Mukasa stated of the itinerary that has Denmark, USA, Kenya, Singapore and Oman over the November 7-22 period.
And of course there lies revenge for USA (got Uganda relegated),” a smiling Ogwang’s face turned.
Uganda has prepared with trips to Qatar, India, WCL Division Four in Malaysia, ICC Africa T20 Qualifiers in Rwanda and the Africa T20 Cup in South Africa.
There is no other year when the team traversed the world this much. “Even if we failed last year, we have spent two years building this unit and we have empowered the players to go do the job,” Ogwang stated.
Prodigal son Arnold Otwani is back in the fold and immediately handed the gloves from ‘injured’ Fred Achelam.
Now Dinesh Nakrani and Ronak Patel’s experience enriches the top-order but as well elongates the batting order to the tail with priceless package in all-rounder Riazat Shah.
Pace bowlers Riazat, Bilal Hassun, Charles Waiswa, Nakrani, Deus Muhumuza and Kenneth Waiswa are tasked to produce the right variations on the flat wickets in Muscat where temperatures are between 28 - 35 degrees Celcius.
2018 ICC WCL DIV III, OMAN
Nov 5: Arrival in Muscat
Nov 9: Uganda vs. Denmark, OC Turf 2
Nov 10: USA vs. Uganda, OC Turf 1
Nov 13: Uganda vs. Kenya, OC Turf 2
Nov 15: Singapore vs. Uganda, OC Turf 1
Nov 19: Oman vs. Uganda, OC Turf 2
TEAM TO SOUTH AFRICA FOR T20s
Players: Brian Masaba (vice captain), Arnold Otwani, Ronak Patel, Roger Mukasa (captain), Hamu Kayondo, Dinesh Nakrani, Muhammad Irfan, Frank Nsubuga, Charles Waiswa, Kenneth Waiswa, Deusdedit Muhumuza, Bilal Hassun, Riazat Ali Shah
Reserves: Fred Achelam, Emmanuel Issaneez
Officials: Jackson Kavuma (Manager), Steve Tikolo (Coach), Jackson Ogwang (Assistant Coach) Physiotherapist: Habiba Kulsum Anguyo. Analyst: Alvin M. Bagaya