Kampala. Uganda must have utilized just over 45 hours to acclimatise with conditions before bowling off at the ICC Africa Women’s Twenty20 Championship in Zimbabwe today.
After a series of hard work from training sessions in December to the Victoria Tri-Series in April, now holders Uganda will begin their title defence against unknown quantities Sierra Leone in a Group B encounter at the Harare Sports Club this afternoon.
Coaches Michael Ndiko and Habibu Mugalula have new faces in the unit and most notably among them is Evelyn Anyipo, who will be on debut.
“It feels good,” said Anyipo before the team departed on Thursday. She began her national team route four years in the U-15 side. “Actually from 2015 to 2017, I played for the under 19s’ until I was called up,” remarked Anyipo.
“I was first called to join the seniors in 2016 but unfortunately, I was dropped,” the Soroti Challengers pillar recalls.
“Some say that I cried but I did not. I never gave up, I told myself to come back strong until I made it,” said Anyipo who picked five scalps in 11 matches as Challengers reached the Mehta T20 League final last month. Following a three-year wait with three call-ups, now Anyipo hopes that she helps the Lady Cricket Cranes defend their African title they lifted two years ago in Windhoek.
“As long as I am given a chance to play, I expect to perform well. I hope to back up my team in bowling and also batting if there still overs to bat in an innings,” said the right-arm medium pacer. Over the years, Anyipo has persevered mainly because of the team’s assistant captain Janet Mbabazi.
“My friends mostly Janet supported me,” Anyipo narrated. “When she (Mbabazi) started playing, I could go watch her play and in that way, I got inspired.
One day, she told me if I could learn to throw the ball, I could be a great bowler,” she said of her time while at Nakatunya Primary School in Soroti.
“My teacher then Francis Erapi encouraged me to continue coming for training and since, Mbabazi has been an inspiration to me in the game.”
After the long wait, Anyipo’s can start to vindicate her place.
ICC WOMEN AFRICA t20
MAY 5 - 12.50pm: Uganda vs. Sierra Leone, Harare Sports Club