In pursuit of Aziz Damani

Clean hit. Riazat Ali Shah (in yellow) hit the ball long.  Photo/Eddie Chicco

What you need to know:

Showcase.  There will be  a contest at the Lugogo Oval between Uganda’s U19 stars who played at the 2022 World Cup.

Aziz Damani have won the last three National Cricket League titles in the 50-over format. To that, they have added Twenty20 titles. They are clearly the benchmark of excellence in Ugandan cricket.  
     This kind of dominance can be good, or bad. When a team is as good as Aziz Damani are, you expect the competition to strive to get to their level. In a bad way, the game can become boring.  As the 50-over National Cricket League returns for the first time since 2019 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Aziz Damani may not be as dominant. 

     The wings of the star-studded side have been clipped by Uganda Cricket Association (UCA) who have tinkered with the rules. From now on, teams will only be allowed four national team players. Under the rules, any player contracted for Uganda in 2021 to play in an International Cricket Council (ICC) event counts as a national team player. 

     Consequently, Aziz Damani have retained batters Saud Islam and Kenneth Waiswa, all-rounder Riazat Ali Shah and left-arm spinner Henry Ssenyondo. Challengers and Ceylon Lions, the two teams that have run Aziz Damani in the recent past now have something to feed on. Kutchi Tigers will also fancy their chances now. 

     Beyond curtailing the quota, UCA has also supplemented their options with the Serenity Oval in Kamengo, Mpigi as one of the match venues. It will be home for the Lions. In addition, the Jinja Oval has a new grass wicket which enables it to host some Division One games. 
        It was previously restricted to only Division Two. With the serial champions not in action on the opening day, their junior side, Aziz Damani Development, will be cast in the light against Nyakasura School in a Division Two game at the Lugogo Oval. 
       This is a clash of Uganda’s U19 national team stars who recently played at the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup in West Indies.  Nyakasura will unleash the quartet of Baby Cricket Cranes captain Pascal Murungi, batsman Brian Asaba and the spin pair of Joseph Baguma and Mathew Musinguzi. They will be without batsman Isaac Ategeka who broke his arm. 

      Opener Ronald Lutaaya is joined by medium pacer Christopher Kidega and spinner Edwin Nuwagaba for Aziz Damani Development. 
In the same division, Jinja SSS face newcomers New Knights Cricket Club at Kyambogo while  Wanderers have SKPLS in sight at Entebbe.