Time for cricket to cut ties with mercenaries

Sunday November 25 2018

Roll back the years.  Uganda cricket had a

Roll back the years. Uganda cricket had a youth development programme that many people couldn’t help but admire. PHOTO BY INNOCENT NDAWULA. 


After returning from the 2018 ICC World Cricket League Division Three tournament with a wooden spoon, Uganda can ill afford resisting siren calls to ring the changes. While a slew of countries playing associate cricket have made cunning use of mercenary players, a slapdash attempt by Uganda has inflicted the damage it is expected to.

The picture is further muddied by the fact that — as this column was at pains to show last Sunday — Roger Mukasa has not quickly learnt how to live within the unforgiving strictures of the captaincy. It will also worry Cricket Cranes coach Steve Tikolo that observers, who assumed a mask of decorum when Uganda plumbed the depths last year, are now — with a hint of impatience — turning their backs on him.

One former Cricket Cranes player put it succinctly in a conversation with your columnist this past week. The current state of affairs, said the player, is a classic case of Murphy’s Law. Everything appears to be going south. Indeed the status quo remains a nightmare experience that’s not easily brushed off. But not all is lost. Things will of course get worse before they get any better. To turn the corner, Uganda cricket will have to learn the error of its ways. There are no two ways about it!

The biggest error by some distance is that frail attempts have always been made to paper over cracks. This has to stop. Uganda Cricket Association has spent the past few years wrapped up in knots because it is oblivious to what stood it in good stead in years gone by. Once upon a time, Uganda cricket had a youth development programme that many people couldn’t help but admire. It rolled out precocious talents that needed little invitation to wear their hearts on the proverbial sleeve.

While — at any rate — the talents are not being produced at the scale of previous heady heights, they are far from being some kind of dying breed. The homebred talents, however, remain uncomfortable in the presence of mercenary players. Uganda cricket has to go back to the place where it was comfortable trusting the products it groomed.

It shouldn’t matter that such a bold move could well produce short term pain. The pain probably won’t even come close to what cricket aficionados have had to bear with the much-vaunted mercenaries in tow.

We now know that two coaches who were hitherto plying their trade in the StarTimes Uganda Premier League have thrown in the towel.
We know that Asaph Mwebaze was the first to leave what is fast becoming a revolving door at Onduparaka. He was quickly joined by Moses Basena who left record Ugandan champions in the relegation zone with four points from a possible 24.