Gaborone trip ends Karavadra’s tenure

In charge no more. Karavadra on the day he was unveiled as the new national women’s team coach. Photo / Eddie Chicco

What you need to know:

  • End of a tenure. 30 year-old- Karavadra, who holds an Elite England Cricket Board (ECB) Level III badge with expertise in batting and wicket-keeping, has prematurely left the  national women’s team.

Emcee Innocent Ndawula spoke of Suraj Karavadra’s craft in high regard before Uganda Cricket Association (UCA) chairman Bashir Ansasiira and CEO Martin Ondeko unveiled the man of Indian descent as new national women’s team coach on May 17.

Those memories of a start to a two-year contract at the Kati Kati Restaurant are still fresh from that Monday morning.

But the chapter, perhaps like his predecessors, ended prematurely for Karavadra. UCA early this week decided to end the relationship after just eight months of  his announcement.

For the amount of hope and praise heaped on Karavadra at arrival, it’s pretty odd the departure came sooner than expected for a man whose great grandfather used to do business in Jinja.

“We were not on the same page in regards to the direction we wanted to take for women’s cricket,” Ondeko told this paper. “We are very keen on team cultures, professionalism,” he added.

First assignment

At 30, Karavadra holds a UKCC Level III badge with expertise in batting and wicket-keeping and has coached teams in India, UAE, England and here over the past decade.

Karavadra’s first assignment with the Victoria Pearls was meant to be at the Kwibuka Peace Twenty20 Cup in Rwanda but Covid-19 cases in the camp denied Uganda a trip to Kigali in June.

And this paper understands that the relationship between the tactician and UCA melted before the team travelled to Botswana for the ICC Africa T20 Qualifiers in September.

Sources close to this paper reveal Karavadra’s opinions contradicted with UCA selectors Nehal Bibodi, Richard Lwamafa and Richard Okia in terms of selection and roles before the flight to Gaborone.

“He didn’t want Immy (Nakisuyi) as captain and also didn’t want Damalie (Busingye) in the team yet the selectors felt otherwise,” a source, preferring anonymity, told this paper.

Zero cohesion

Why? “Karavadra wanted to keep Kevin (Awino) as captain just for continuity and a budding slow bowler  in the place of an opening batter (Damalie) because she is slow (contrary to the statistics) for the T20 format,” the source added.

But this rift at the helm of the technical table could have hurt the team in terms of chemistry. “In Botswana, we did not play for each other,” one player stated.

“Yes, there will always be clusters amongst us but unlike the past, we did not put them behind us,” she further said.

During the team’s national trials, Busingye topped the batting charts with 192 runs in 12 innings with a highest score of 37 runs.

In Botswana, the Victoria Pearls finished fourth after losing by nine wickets to Tanzania in quest for third place following a 14-run semi-final loss to Zimbabwe, which ended the quest for a ticket to the 2023 ICC Women’s T20 Global Qualifier.

Here, Busingye travelled but she did not play any game.

Batting at three, Rita Musamali emerged as team’s best batter with 135 runs from six innings while Nakisuyi, who held the captain’s roles while batting at four, was second best with 113 runs.

Checking the scorecards, Karavadra maintained the batting order with Rachael Ntono and Proscovia Alako opening for the first two matches but he dropped the former for Awino in the 155 and nine-wicket win over Cameroon and Sierra Leone.

Despite having experienced Naomi Kayondo in the ranks, Awino yet again opened the batting with Esther Iloku in the failed pursuit of 109 runs against Zimbabwe.

Janet Mbabazi then joined Awino at the top of the order against Tanzania,  making five different openers at the championship, something which up to now - at least going by the recent decision - did not go well with the UCA board selectors committee.

While UCA prepares to name a  new coach, this paper earlier sought to hear out Karavadra but despite giving a warm reception, he chose to keep his cards close to his chest, at least for the moment.


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