Cricket Cranes have guns cocked

Showtime. Masaba leads out Uganda against Jersey at Lugogo Oval today.  PHOTO/EDDIE CHICCO

What you need to know:

Moment Of Truth. Cricket Cranes start their campaign against Jersey.

For the next fortnight at Lugogo and Kyambogo ovals, the Cricket Cranes under the guise of South African tactician Laurence Mahatlane will battle for a maximum 10 points and hope to keep top of the International Cricket Council (ICC) Cricket World Cup (CWC) Challenge League B standings before the final round of CWC League B in Jersey in early August.
The competition is part of a pathway, which includes another six-team qualifier, to the coveted ICC One Day International (ODI) World Cup set to be held in India next year.
And by reaching that top stage, ICC Associate Nations like Uganda can have ODI status which inevitably triples the sport’s funding from ICC.

The desire is similar for all other competitors like Hong Kong who face Italy in Lugogo as well as Kenya who open up against Bermuda in Kyambogo tomorrow.
Biggest-ever home tourney
Team Uganda skipper Brian Masaba is privileged to lead the Cricket Cranes out of the dugout for the country’s biggest home cricket tourney ever when the tournament officially bowls off against Jersey at Lugogo this morning.
“My first major tournament at home, I am really excited to put on a show in front of our fans, and hopefully show how far this team has come,” he said in an interview.
Five years ago, Uganda hosted the ICC World Cricket League (WCL) Division III but captain Davis Karashani sank with his ship, painfully in every sense.

Uganda Cricket Association (UCA) kept the faith in Kenyan coach Steve Tikolo who won the 2018 WCL Division IV in Malaysia and then took all 10 points after five wins at round one of the League B in Oman in December, 2019.
 Fast forward, Mahatlane took over midway the pandemic and today, the result-oriented coach presents a team marinated by a mix of experience and youth exuberance.
 The blend is a result of grinding victories at the ICC Derby Trophy against Kenya, the Pearl of Africa T20 Tri-Series against Kenya and Nigeria and the Africa T20 Qualifiers in Rwanda all last year.

Change doesn’t come easy and Mahatlane knows the results over the next few days will stamp authority over the critics but also, a launch-pad for momentum before next month’s ICC Twenty20 World Cup Qualifier B in Zimbabwe and then the trip to Jersey. “Our focus is on one game at a time and on our processes. Last year, we had equaled the world record on number of T20I wins and lost our 12th game by one run to Kenya before we picked it up for another five wins in a row. So, I believe we understand tournament cricket,” Mahatlane stated.

He has just four survivors Masaba, his assistant Deus Muhumuza, veteran spinner Frank Nsubuga and left-arm orthodox bowler Henry Ssenyondo from the 2017 WCL team.
After checks and balances during the 3-2 Series loss to hosts Namibia in April, in-form left-hander Simon Ssesazi will open the batting with Emmanuel Hasahya while Ronak Patel looks to have his blade hot at the right time to address the ever-worrying batting Achilles.
Masaba must convert alongside Muhumuza, Riazat Ali Shah, Dinesh Nakrani and wicket-keeper Fred Achelam.

Youngster Cosmas Kyewuta will likely open the bowling.
Nakrani struck a priceless unbeaten half-ton of 79 runs off 70 balls before picking 3/32 in 8.1 overs as Uganda beat Jersey by 25 runs in the League B round I opener in Muscat.
Five winners from that team are out and big hitting Jersey led by Charles Perchard have made four changes from Oman; with John Lawrenson, Anthony Hawkins-Kay, Zak Tribe and Benjamin Ward replacing Corey Bisson, Rhys Palmer, William Robertson and Nathaniel Watkins.
Their middle-order batsman Jonty Jenner, who struck 115 runs, is one to watch.

Past meetings
May 5, 2018: Jersey 126/10
Uganda 55/3 (Washed out)
May 6, 2018: Uganda 90
Jersey 83/10 (Uganda won
by 7 runs)

Dec 2, 2019: Uganda 248/8 
Jersey 223 (Uganda won by
25 runs)