A recurring hamstring injury has ruled Cricket Cranes captain Brian Masaba out of Uganda’s Tour of Namibia, with fast-rising Uganda ‘A’ skipper Frank Akankwasa taking his place for the Castle Lite Series that bowl off in Windhoek tomorrow.
Akankwasa, the former Baby Cricket Cranes (U-19) captain who made his senior debut during the 2019 Qatar Tour with a heroic man-of-match performance of 66 runs, was easily the best replacement after the doctors advised Masaba to rest for a month to allow the tear in the hamstring muscle heal naturally.
“It is very disappointing to have worked hard and then miss out on this particular tour,” said Masaba, who will miss his first trip since making his debut in 2011 during the ICC Africa T20 Finals hosted and won by Uganda.
“But these things happen and we have to look at the bigger picture which is preparing well for the ICC World Cricket Challenge League B in Jersey this September. Good thing is we have got depth in the squad and I wish Arnold (Otwani) all the best.”
Primarily the team’s vice captain, Arnold Otwani takes over the captaincy mantle for the tour that ends on April 9 with five matches; two 50-over (Limited Over) games and three Twenty20s that have ICC ranking status at the Wanderers Cricket Ground in Windhoek. The team flew out aboard Ethiopian Airlines this morning and will check into the Utopian Boutique for the next eight days.
“It is so unfortunate Brian (Masaba) is not in the team. We are going to miss him because he is the leader of our pack and we have always trusted him. But it is also an exciting job for me to be the captain of this tour. I am not new in this job. I did this in Qatar for the T20s and Oman for the last two games and we won. I hope I can do well again,” said Otwani as he both paid tribute to Masaba’s leadership skills and pumped up the volume in the camp.
As the selectors cut the squad from 19 to 14, three players; wicket-keeper Fred Achelam, opening batsman Emmanuel Hasahya and left-hander Simon Ssesazi, who recently won central contracts from Uganda Cricket Association (UCA) didn’t make the cut as well as Uganda ‘A’s young left-arm orthodox spinner Gerald Mubiru.
“Our selection was based on statistics, performance, experience and how the players have handled themselves as per the team ethos. The team is a good mix of the young that have come from the U-19 set-up and experienced ones. Our main focus stays with planning for the right combinations for the Jersey trip,” said National Team Selector Richard Okia, who is part of the travelling contingent.
Coach Laurence Mahatlane, too, bemoaned the absence of his skipper Masaba but showed delight with the inclusion of the youngsters, debutants and a couple of returning seniors.
Strongest possible team
“The strongest possible team available has been picked. It’s a hard blow for us to take that Brian didn’t pass the late fitness test. He is an important cog on the team as he is a four-in-one cricketer. He’s a batsman, wrist spinner, arguably our best fielder and also our captain,” said the 44-year-old gaffer.
“But we have created systems which will give youngsters some chances to come through. Hamu Kayondo hasn’t played in a while and it’s nice to see him back and the young guys like Akankwasa and Trevor (Bukenya) can put up their hands again. It will also be nice to see how Saud (Islam) plays after qualifying to play for Uganda as well as paceman Cosmas against a side ranked better than us.”
Kayondo will not be the only man returning as left-arm seamer Jonathan Ssebanja, too, makes a belated return, four years since his last outing during that forgettable 2017 ICC Division III World Cricket League in Uganda. Kyewuta and Islam will be making their senior team debuts.
Cricket Cranes Squad
Frank Akankwasa, Trevor Bukenya, Jonathan Ssebanja, Frank Nsubuga, Ronak Patel, Kenneth Waiswa, Riazat Ali Shah, Cosmas Kyewuta, Dinesh Nakrani, Henry Ssenyondo, Arnold Otwani (captain), Roger Mukasa, Saud Islam & Hamu Kayondo