Windhoek. After 15 months without a piece of international cricket for the Associate Nations in Africa because of the Covid-19 pandemic, Namibia and Uganda are without doubt the envy of many as they resume normalcy with a bowl-off this afternoon.
First on the weeklong menu is an anticipated Twenty 20 International thriller - the first of three blitzes with coveted International Cricket Council (ICC) ranking status and points at the home of cricket in Namibia – the Wanderers Cricket Ground.
Namibia are the big boys as they will be going for the big dance at the 2021 World Cup in India this October.
But Uganda have toppled the Southern Africans before – most memorably during the 2011 ICC Africa T20 Finals at Lugogo Oval – and will be fancying their chances of toppling their friendly foes.
“We’re going to embrace the challenge Namibia will throw at us. We’ll take them on as we’ve a competitive unit that will give their all for the country,” said Cricket Cranes coach Laurence Mahatlane.
“It is going to be an exciting adventure to see where we are and for the guys to gauge what they have been doing since October. The young guys in the side and the returning seniors must put up their hands and prove they can deliver.”
The Cricket Cranes have played no less than 15 inter-squad T20 matches since the climax of the Uganda Elite League on October 31 and that should hold them in good stead when they play the Namibians who are fresh from their own national competition – The Richelieu Franchise T20.
“Cricket Namibia is glad to announce the return of International cricket on home soil,” CEO Johan Muller stated with a notably excited tone.
Muller added: “We want to thank Uganda for taking this opportunity to travel to Namibia. We are looking for a strong on-field challenge of high-level cricket.”
Namibia coach Pierre de Bruyn is equally looking to solidify his side ahead of the World Cup.
“Every match is crucial in building up to the T20 World Cup and allows for us to look at new combinations and possibly a couple of fringe players,” he said.
“The players trained very hard during the lockdown period and this is a fantastic opportunity to show off their skills.”
Uganda coach Mahatlane is set to throw debutants; paceman Cosmas Kyewuta and opening batsman Saud Islam into the deep end alongside former U-19 captain Frank Akankwasa, who made the team in the place of skipper Brian Masaba, who misses the trip after failing a late fitness test with a hamstring injury.
Arnold Otwani will hold the captaincy mantle for the tour dubbed ‘Castle Lite Series’ that ends on April 9 and also includes two 50-over (Limited Over) games.
“Masaba is not here but it doesn’t mean we will not play the games,” said Otwani, who has enjoyed captaincy stints before in Oman 2019 and Qatar 2020.
“Namibia are the big boys in Africa and they are going to come hard at us. We know the tour is going to be tough but we also want to win games and return victorious.”
Today - T20 International
Namibia vs. Uganda 1.30pm
Wanderers Cricket Ground.
Live on Cricket Namibia Facebook
Uganda Probable XI
Riazat Ali Shah
Arnold Otwani (captain)
12th man: Jonathan Ssebanja