There is growing attention and traffic at the forgotten bridge as youngsters are now regularly crossing from the junior to senior national men’s cricket team.
That ajar door was deliberately kicked further wide open by the technical team after Uganda choked at home during the 2017 ICC World Cricket League (WCL) Division Three tournament, forcing a handful of high profile seniors out.
Now teenager Rogers Olipa will earn his first senior debut after he surprisingly made the final 14-man team for the ICC Men’s Twenty20 World Cup Africa Finals which bowls off in Lugogo and Kyambogo on Sunday. “That’s great,” calm and composed, Olipa told Daily Monitor in an interview. “Happiest man in the world,” he described the feeling.
It’s been long coming for the 17-year-old who announced his arrival onto the scene in 2012 and has been part of the Cricket Cranes’ set-up for the last two years.
Learning from the big boys
“When you play with the big boys, you learn a lot and get experience. I am happy that my hard work has paid off at the right time,” Olipa described the atmosphere with the seniors.
To make this grade for coach Steve Tikolo’s team, Olipa has had to up his mojo with the opportunities he has had such as the Sanjay Farm Tour to India and Star Field Sports Academy. “Olipa has matured a lot in the last one year,” said assistant national coach Jackson Ogwang, who first coached the teenager at Kololo Secondary School in 2014. “He is bowling really well at the moment, the kind that suites the T20 format. He is a cool-headed boy who can both stay on the wicket and hit the ball so hard in the middle order when he is required to do so,” added Ogwang.
Now the said the Challengers’ bowling all-rounder hopes to return the coaches’ faith by turning on the style as Uganda bids to make the coveted top two places to the ICC Global T20 Qualifier due October 11 - November 3 in United Arab Emirates.
“I am planning to score runs and pick wickets also for my team to make my country progress to the Global Qualifier,” Olipa noted.
Besides Tikolo and Ogwang, he owes a lot to other coaches since his start back in 2009 who include Henry Okecho, John Tumusime and Habibu Mugalula.
Olipa’s other ‘cricket fathers’ have moved abroad; Fred Isabyire to Australia, Raymond Otim to New Zealand, Martin Suji in Kenya and Robinson Turinawe in Nepal.
“They have coached me from childhood to where I am right now and I am grateful. Besides motivation, coach Tikolo has been improving on my all-around skill set.
ICC AFRICA MEN’S T20 CUP
May 17: Teams Arrival
May 18: Official Practice,
Captains Trophy Shoot &
May 19: Uganda vs. Kenya
May 20: Uganda vs. Botswana
May 21: Namibia vs. Uganda
May 23: Uganda vs. Ghana
May 24: Nigeria vs. Uganda