From baseball to cricket: Achelam finds best feeling

Monday April 23 2018

Uganda’s wicket-keeping department, Achelam

Hard worker. Achelam believes he can provide a long term solution to Uganda’s wicket-keeping department and score some useful late order runs, too. PHOTO BY EDDIE CHICCO 


Nickname: ‘Big Freddie’
Club: Aziz Damani
Born: May 19
Birth place: Jinja
Batting style: Right-hand batsman
Bowling style: Right-arm medium pace
Fielding position: Wicket-keeper
Best score: 85
Cricketing idols: Mark Boucher, MS Dhoni
Jinja SSS
Tornado Bee
Aziz Damani

KAMPALA. The senior national men’s cricket team is currently undergoing its biggest transition in more than a decade.

The blend of youth and experience sees five debutants included in the 14-man squad that will represent Uganda at the ICC World Cricket League (WCL) Division Four tournament in Malaysia this weekend.

Wicket-keeper Fred Achelam is one of the two players promoted from the U-19 side that narrowly missed out on the 2019 ICC Youth World Cup in New Zealand. Almost a decade into the sport, Achelam will be on the plane to Asia tomorrow for the April 29 - May 6 event.

“It is an honour to represent my nation,” a smiling Achelam told Daily Monitor in an interview. “Actually, to be honest, it’s the best feeling I have ever had,” he said.
When he joined Jinja Secondary School for his Senior Two from Busoga College Mwiri in 2009, Achelam first played as first-base and catcher in baseball until he found a new love in cricket a year later.

“It was a quick transition,” Achelam narrates. “I was called to the cricket school team and found myself quickly embracing the game.” He would bowl a few spin overs but the lad nicknamed ‘Big Freddie’ somehow became the gloveman.
“Because of my position I had in baseball, I was used to wearing gloves and found it easy wicket-keeping and then, I watched many videos of India’s Mahendra Singh Dhoni and South African Mark Boucher keeping.”

Change of guard
In the inevitable change of guard, Achelam is now the country’s number wicket-keeper, replacing Lawrence Ssematimba, who has kept for long spells since his debut in Namibia 14 years ago. Good enough for coach Steve Tikolo’s plan, Ssematimba has provided the fatherly figure to Achelam. “Lawrence has given me lots of advice especially when we were playing together in Tornado Bees last year.” Having played in preparatory events in Rwanda, Qatar, India and the recent Saudi Arabia visit to Kampala, the Jinja-born player knows how to tackle the big Malaysia job.

“I have it at the back of my mind that with the ability and skills we have acquired as an individual or as a team, victory is on our side.
“It is just a matter of knowing our roles and working towards them’” Achelam added.
Uganda needs to finish among the top two of hosts Malaysia, Bermuda, Singapore, Denmark and Jersey to earn promotion back to the WCL Division Three.

[email protected]