What you need to know:
- The 2022 ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup is an international limited-overs cricket tournament that is currently being held in the West Indies in January and February 2022 with sixteen teams taking part.
- It is the fourteenth edition of the Under-19 Cricket World Cup, and the first to be held in the West Indies.
After a long wait, Uganda is back at the global stage for youth cricket and will present a team for the ICC Under-19 Men’s Cricket World Cup when the finals bowl off in the West Indies today.
The Baby Cricket Cranes last featured at the 2006 edition in Sri Lanka where they finished 14th after with one win, just like their debut two years prior in Bangladesh.
So 16 years ago, video mobile application Tiktok was still a myth, Shakira and Wycleaf Jean’s Hips Don’t Lie was topping the charts, Nakivubo Stadium was still in operation, Muammar Gaddafi was then Libyan president and the internet was still a luxury.
It has been a while so almost two decades later, Uganda is back to the pinnacle of global youth cricket and coach Ivan Thawithemwira’s boys open their quest against Ireland in a Group B match at the Everest Cricket Club, Guyana.
“We have done all we have had to do, we are ready,” skipper Pascal Murungi said during the tournament opening press conference.
“We had never been here in the West Indies. But it is not about the West Indies, everyone is ready to give their best.”
Murungi and company are coming off a wobbly start that saw them lose by 107 and 231 runs to Scotland and Sri Lanka, respectively, in the tournament warm-up contests this week.
Title dream, a real dream
Whereas Thawithemwira spoke confidently before that his team travelled to the Caribbean for the title, Murungi acknowledges that their group, which also has four-time record winners India and 2014 champions South Africa, make it harder.
“It’s not an easy group but we are ready to go for it,” said Murungi, who emerged as the MVP during the qualifiers in Rwanda three months ago with 134 runs in three innings and five wickets for 38 runs.
Against Sri Lanka, Uganda was in pursuit of 278 runs but the side, while attempting to find new combinations with the bat, was bowled out for a paltry 46 runs in 21.0 overs.
Thawi must think again before his side faces the Irish, a team in its 11th outing at the showpiece. Batting lynch-pin Cyrus Kakuru ought to bat up the order, probably behind Ronald Lutaaya and Ronald Opio.
And with the ball, it is prudent Murungi that lets his unit take responsibility with the new ball. Joseph Baguma’s spell must be handled sparingly as he has fashioned sublime economies.
While Ugandans lost both their warm-up games, Ireland lost their first warm-up match by 128 runs to Sri Lanka. However, they replied with opener David Vincent’s unbeaten half-ton of 51 runs off 95 balls to beat Scotland by seven wickets.
The Irish also boast of solid wicket-keeper Joshua Cox as well as right-arm offbreak Nathan McGuire, who picked 5/33 to bowl out the Scots for 138 runs in 48 overs.
Then Tim Tector is the third consecutive Tector brother, after Jack and Harry, to captain the U19s at the World Cup.
“It’s certainly a weird one being the third brother to do it - I’ve had a lot of questions about it but it’s great we’ve all been able to do it,” said Tim, who struck an incredible double-ton of 241 runs for the highest score in Irish youth cricket history last year.
“We have Uganda first up and our focus is on that first, we are pretty confident for that game but you’ve got to take it one game at a time.”
The two nations have met once at U19 level with the Irish winning by 67 runs during the 2009 World Cup Qualifier in Canada.