Ex-baseball ace Achelam has no room for pressure

Out. Cricket Cranes wicket keeper Achelam celebrates a wicket against Kenya. PHOTO/EDDIE CHICCO

What you need to know:

  • One thing he has learnt to handle along the way is pressure.
  • And he duly showed that with an important innings of 21 runs off 43 balls despite Uganda failing to meet Jersey’s score of 255-6 by 62 runs in Lugogo a week ago.

Before 2018, Fred Achelam was not a big name in Uganda’s cricket sphere. However, after the senior national men’s team crumbled under the weight of expectation, the inevitable changes paved the way for the Jinja-bred player.

Veteran Lawrence Ssematimba went into retirement and Achelam rose to become the team’s first-choice wicket-keeper.

Around that time, there had been trials with Roger Mukasa and even Arnold Otwani for the gloves’ role but the pair were equally expected to contribute at the top of the batting order.

Achelam is now the go-to man behind the stumps as the Cricket Cranes seek a rise at the ongoing round two of the ICC World Cup Challenge League B in Kampala.

“Having a full-time wicket-keeper on the team is a much better option because then you’re not worried as coach,” Achelam said recently.

He had received the blessing from Ssematimba in 2016 when the two played for Tornado Bees Cricket Club. “He was playing for the same club and I had taken over the role as wicket-keeper so he always guided me”, Achelam recalls.

The man who adores former South African wicket-keeper Mark Boucher had to give up on baseball before opting to focus on cricket in 2010 while at Jinja Secondary School. 

Just five years before, Achelam wasn’t interested in cricket. He only first countered the addictive sport by association in 2005.

“If I can remember well, Arthur Kyobe was our neighbour at home at Ambercourt in Jinja and he was playing for the U19 team. He decided to extend it to my friends and me. Then later at Jinja SSS, Mr Habib Mugalula nurtured my cricket skills.”

Mugalula must be a proud man. In 2017,  Achelam had missed out on being in the team which later lost the WCL Division Three title.

But, the following year, after a near wipe out, he boarded the plane to Malaysia for the ICC WCL Division Four tournament which Uganda won.

Achelam has since not missed a tournament with the Cricket Cranes. “I believe my game has changed a lot by believing in myself and from the coaches.

That’s more of an assurance that one is a great player both physically and mentally. I can say I’m growing in the game though it’s still a process.”

One thing he has learnt to handle along the way is pressure. And he duly showed that with an important innings of 21 runs off 43 balls despite Uganda failing to meet Jersey’s score of 255-6 by 62 runs in Lugogo a week ago.

Despite losing to Hong Kong as well by six wickets in Kyambogo on Monday, Achelam, like most of his colleagues, isn’t worried.

“We all believe that we are the best regardless of who we are playing. It’s just a ball and bat game. At the end of the day, cricket will win.

Personally, I am well prepared if I can say I’ve been there before so I am rest assured of what it takes to play at this level and what it means to be there,” the man nicknamed ‘Big Freddie’ stated.

Achelam feels the team is in a perfect place to engage the gears tomorrow.  “I would say everyone is special in their capacity because we all bring in different blends to the mixture. And I am sure we shall have a great result at the end of the day,” he added.

He further acknowledges that contracting the team has created a lot of stability off the field and it is now down to players to give the country and coach Laurence Mahatlane desired glory.


DARREN ALLAN KYEYUNE & INNOCENT NDAWULA

 KAMPALA.  Before 2018, Fred Achelam was not a big name in Uganda’s cricket sphere.
However, after the senior national men’s team crumbled under the weight of expectation, the inevitable changes paved the way for the Jinja-bred player.
Veteran Lawrence Ssematimba went into retirement and Achelam rose to become the team’s first-choice wicket-keeper.
Around that time, there had been trials with Roger Mukasa and even Arnold Otwani for the gloves’ role but the pair were equally expected to contribute at the top of the batting order.
Achelam is now the go-to man behind the stumps as the Cricket Cranes seek a rise at the ongoing round two of the ICC World Cup Challenge League B in Kampala.
“Having a full-time wicket-keeper on the team is a much better option because then you’re not worried as coach,” Achelam said recently.
He had received the blessing from Ssematimba in 2016 when the two played for Tornado Bees Cricket Club. “He was playing for the same club and I had taken over the role as wicket-keeper so he always guided me”, Achelam recalls.
The man who adores former South African wicket-keeper Mark Boucher had to give up on baseball before opting to focus on cricket in 2010 while at Jinja Secondary School. 

Just five years before, Achelam wasn’t interested in cricket. He only first countered the addictive sport by association in 2005.

“If I can remember well, Arthur Kyobe was our neighbour at home at Ambercourt in Jinja and he was playing for the U19 team. He decided to extend it to my friends and me. Then later at Jinja SSS, Mr Habib Mugalula nurtured my cricket skills.”

Mugalula must be a proud man. In 2017,  Achelam had missed out on being in the team which later lost the WCL Division Three title.

But, the following year, after a near wipe out, he boarded the plane to Malaysia for the ICC WCL Division Four tournament which Uganda won.

Achelam has since not missed a tournament with the Cricket Cranes. “I believe my game has changed a lot by believing in myself and from the coaches.

That’s more of an assurance that one is a great player both physically and mentally. I can say I’m growing in the game though it’s still a process.”

One thing he has learnt to handle along the way is pressure. And he duly showed that with an important innings of 21 runs off 43 balls despite Uganda failing to meet Jersey’s score of 255-6 by 62 runs in Lugogo a week ago.

Despite losing to Hong Kong as well by six wickets in Kyambogo on Monday, Achelam, like most of his colleagues, isn’t worried.

“We all believe that we are the best regardless of who we are playing. It’s just a ball and bat game. At the end of the day, cricket will win.

Personally, I am well prepared if I can say I’ve been there before so I am rest assured of what it takes to play at this level and what it means to be there,” the man nicknamed ‘Big Freddie’ stated.

Achelam feels the team is in a perfect place to engage the gears tomorrow.  “I would say everyone is special in their capacity because we all bring in different blends to the mixture. And I am sure we shall have a great result at the end of the day,” he added.

He further acknowledges that contracting the team has created a lot of stability off the field and it is now down to players to give the country and coach Laurence Mahatlane desired glory.

ICC WORLD CUP CHALLENGE LEAGUE B

Today's fixtures- 10am

Italy vs. Kenya, Lugogo

Bermuda vs. Hong Kong, Kyambogo

Uganda's remaining fixtures - 10am

Tomorrow: Uganda vs. Italy, Kyambogo

Sunday: Kenya vs. Uganda, Lugogo

Tuesday results 

Bermuda 95/10 
Uganda 99/2
(Uganda won by 8 wickets)

Jersey 223/9 Italy 135/10
(Jersey won by 88 runs)

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