Long journey ahead for Cricket Cranes

Kenneth Waiswa showed he could face up to the world class bowling of New Zealand in his brief cameo. PHOTOS/COURTESY OF ICC MEDIA

What you need to know:

Beacon Of Hope. As Uganda's Cricket Cranes return home, they carry with them invaluable lessons and newfound resolve. The T20 World Cup has lit a spark, and now, it's up to the Cricket Cranes to fan it into a blazing beacon of hope for the future of Ugandan cricket.
 

The Cricket Cranes embarked on a historic journey by qualifying for their first-ever T20 World Cup.

Competing in this prestigious biennial tournament held in the West Indies and USA, the senior men’s national cricket team has experienced both the thrill of international competition and the stark challenges that lie ahead.

Their debut campaign has revealed the significant strides needed to compete effectively at the highest level.

Smiles amidst struggles

The most glaring issue has been batting. Uganda's performances with the bat have been far from competitive, struggling to post challenging totals in all their matches; against Afghanistan: 58 all out,  Papua New Guinea (78 for 7), West Indies: (39 All Out) and New Zealand (40 all out). 

Robinson Obuya was cleaned for golden duck. 

The match against New Zealand, played in the early hours of Saturday morning at the Brian Lara Cricket Academy in Tarouba – San Fernando – south of Trinidad epitomised these struggles.

After losing the toss, Uganda was put in to bat under challenging conditions. New Zealand's bowlers, Trent Boult and Tim Southee, quickly dismantled Uganda's top order, reducing them to 2 for 3 within the first few overs.

Kenneth Waiswa’s brief innings of 11 off 18 balls and Fred Achelam’s 9 off 13 provided a rare moment of resistance but was not enough to prevent Uganda from being bowled out for 40 in 18.3 overs.

The pair’s resolute performances, although short, offered a glimmer of hope and a reason for the traveling fans to cheer. “Facing a team like New Zealand is a huge learning curve for us.

The intensity and skill level they bring to the game are something we aspire to reach. We are grateful for the opportunity to compete at this level and are determined to come back stronger," Uganda's captain Brian Masaba reflected.

Worth reckoning

However, Uganda's bowling and fielding have been commendable throughout the tournament.

The team's opening bowlers, particularly young pacemen Cosmas Kyewuta and Juma Miyaji, impressed with their lively pace and accuracy as well as captain Masaba and old man about town Frank Nsubuga.

Achelam was adept in the lone match, producing a solitary moment of magic with a catch down the leg to dismiss Finn Allen.

In the match against New Zealand, Kyewuta and Miyaji kept things tight initially, though the small target of 41 was easily chased down by the Kiwis in just 5.2 overs. Despite the defeat, Uganda's bowlers showcased a fighting spirit that bodes well for the future.

Captains’ pleas

New Zealand's captain Kane Williamson praised Uganda's efforts and highlighted the importance of exposure for emerging teams.

“More the merrier, in terms of exposure at the highest level. The conditions have been an added challenge but having that exposure is always a great thing to learn from. Uganda will only get better,” Williamson said.

Masaba added; “The whole country has been following our progress, staying up late to watch games. Hopefully, it is a platform we can build on. The two young fast bowlers have inspired a lot of kids back home. They come from a humble background, and to see them do what they do, there are a lot of kids dreaming about it as well.”

Juma Miyaji has been flying. 

Long road ahead

The journey for Uganda is undeniably long and challenging. This participation has provided invaluable lessons and exposure that will be crucial going forward.

To bridge the gap, the team needs to focus on building a stronger batting lineup capable of withstanding the pressure of facing world-class bowlers.

This includes not only technical improvements but also mental resilience to handle high-stakes situations. The experiences gained from playing against teams like New Zealand, West Indies, and Afghanistan are stepping stones towards this goal.

Certainly Uganda’s cricketing journey is just beginning. The World Cup has been a blessing in disguise - an eye-opener, highlighting both the potential and the areas needing significant improvement.

Fans have made a feast of the World Cup. 

With continued investment in training, infrastructure, and exposure to high-level competition, Uganda can bridge the gap and emerge as a competitive force on the global stage.

The road ahead is long, but with the right focus and support, Uganda's cricketing future holds promise.

ICC MEN’S T20 WORLD Cup

Result – June 15

Uganda 40/10 New Zealand 41/1

New Zealand won by 9 wickets