On Monday when Brian Masaba walks out to the wicket at Oman Cricket Academy Turf in Al Amerat for an age-old tradition, he will be deeply conscious of an unenviable record that lurks. The 28-year-old could go down in the annals as the first Cricket Cranes skipper to suffer four consecutive losses.
Confused? True to his ‘Master Confuser’ sobriquet, the aforementioned losses haven’t quite wreaked intolerable damage. The Cricket Cranes have swept to successive wins over Jersey, Kenya and Bermuda in the ongoing International Cricket Council Men’s Cricket World Cup Challenge League B despite or in fact because of thrice losing the toss.
It all of course started when Uganda managed to eke out a victory against Jersey. Masaba’s captaincy was widely projected to bring with it an incisive knowledge and affability. The hard-fought 25-run win against Jersey gave us a taste of both as well as a masterpiece in confusing.
Imagine for a moment that you are either Nick Greenwood or Ben Stevens. The Jersey mid-order batsmen had left Uganda’s slow men in the grip of negative tactics when the slog was on. Then, in a steadfast response, Masaba took his cap off and introduced himself into the attack in the 26th over.
While Cricket Cranes fans had reason to be plunged into new depths of anxiety, the eyes of Greenwood and Stevens must have lit up. Their homework must have convinced them that the Cricket Cranes skipper was going to bowl legbreak googly.
It would be a tough needle to thread especially since frontline spinners Franco Nsubuga and Henry Ssenyondo had been easy pickings. But remember Masaba is acclaimed as a ‘master confuser.’ In a bid to batten down the hatches, he turned back the clock and bowled medium pace.
Flummoxed to the bone, the well-set Stevens was claimed in Masaba’s second over. It was the skipper’s eighth ball, and provided a much-needed watershed moment.
After watching the captaincy knock Roger Mukasa’s performances sideways, it is rather refreshing seeing what it is doing to Masaba. This chameleonic character has not just grasped its hidden contours, but is leading from the front in all three facets of the sport.
Of course, Masaba isn’t alone in reviving the Cricket Cranes. Given a steady run in the team, Shahzad Kamal has been calmness personified even while walking into difficult situations. He almost carried his bat in the routine win over Bermuda. Elsewhere, the much-maligned Ronak Patel has confounded his critics with back-to-back half centuries. So much for losing the toss!