Obuya gave up soccer, now relishes T20 World Cup

L-R: Cricket Cranes players Obuya, Cosmas Kyewuta and Juma Miyagi show off their bronze medals at the 13th edition of the African Games in Accra, Ghana. PHOTOS/JOHN BATANUDDE 

What you need to know:

A fortnight ago, he was named part of the 15-man squad that will represent Uganda on their debut at the ICC Men’s Twenty20 Cricket World Cup in the West Indies next month.

From this part of the globe, playing at a team sport world cup tournament doesn’t come often. And Robinson Obuya never imagined it all.

A fortnight ago, he was named part of the 15-man squad that will represent Uganda on their debut at the ICC Men’s Twenty20 Cricket World Cup in the West Indies next month.

“It’s a special feeling knowing that in days to come, I am going to wear the national badge at the highest level, gratitude to the Most High,” a tired Obuya tells this paper in a chat.

He was only recuperating from the jetlag upon return from Sri Lanka where the Cricket Cranes had camp for nearly a fortnight, in preparation for the global showpiece.

Globally, the name Obuya is synonymous with brothers David and Collins whose careers in the Kenya national team are well documented. So how did Robinson end up in Uganda, many must have wondered? 

“I also don’t know, but one thing I know is my family or clan is wide, some are in Kenya and I respect the Obuya family in Kenya, they are an inspiration,” he noted.

More than a decade, cricket was a myth to Obuya. “At first, I was a football player and had dreams of playing for the Uganda Cranes,” he says.

“I featured under the then Andy Mwesigwa Soccer Academy in Jinja by the former captain of Uganda Cranes,” he narrates. Something changed for Obuya in 2013.

“I had a glimpse of cricket at St James Secondary School in Jinja. It was a friend named Hussam Sadam who one evening told me to join him in cricket practice at school. 

“I gave it a shot because I also needed to work on my fitness for soccer and by then, the school never participated in football. The school’s main game and culture was cricket. 

“Sadam introduced me to the late coach Justine Ezra Ligyalingi Snr who liked me at first sight because of my athleticism; he encouraged me to keep on coming for practice.” 

Obuya joined Jinja SSS in 2017 and his involvement in cricket intensified. “I had a full-time coach who took care of me like a dad. I developed quickly under coach Habib Mugalula and forever, I will be grateful for him giving me the opportunity of going to school and cricket. 

Cricket Cranes players celebrate after receiving bronze medals at the African Games. 

Obuya got his first invite to the national team from then coach Kenyan Steve Tikolo in 2019. “It wasn’t easy at all,” he recalls. “… Being a young player who had no experience containing pressure. 

But because of my resilience, persistence, determination and having senior players like Frank Nsubuga, captain Brian Masaba who kept on guiding me, I think I fit in because of all those factors.” 

He has since built special bonds with young pace bowler Juma Miyaji and wicket-keeper batsman Cyrus Kakuru. It’s taken Obuya a while to earn a place in the Cricket Cranes’ starting XI. 

Obuya’s T20 international debut only came around last year. Yet, his athleticism and agile batting style bodes well with the fast-paced format of T20 cricket.

Several times, coach Laurence Mahatlane in the past, then Jackson Ogwang and now Indian Ahbay Sharma has either asked him to face the new ball, bat at three or even four. “I am a top order batsman and an explosive one, my role in the team is to get quick runs,” he explains his role.

Little wonder, he is nicknamed ‘Simba’ because of his resilience and fearlessness while playing. And yet, Uganda is going to have to fight if they are to make it out of Group C where they meet New Zealand, hosts and two-time champions West Indies, Afghanistan and Papua New Guinea.

“Uganda’s chances are high to make it to the Super 8,” Obuya weighed in. “Two wins are possible for us and we will fight for them and give our all. Remember there’s nothing dangerous like someone who has got nothing to lose.”

That alone, is a powerful statement to Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago. While in the Caribbean, Obuya looks forward to meeting India’s Suryakumar Yadav and Virat Kohli as well as West Indies’ Andre Russell. 

More importantly, he hopes his individual displays can open a door for exposure to the outside world full of franchises in Australia’s Big Bash League, SA20 of South Africa, the Indian Premier League (IPL) or even the new Major League Cricket (MLC) of the USA.  


GROUP A: India, Pakistan, Ireland, Canada, USA

GROUP B: England, Australia, Namibia, Scotland, Oman

GROUP C: New Zealand, West Indies, Afghanistan, Uganda, Papua N. Guinea

GROUP D: South Africa, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Netherlands, Nepal


TUE, JUNE 4 - 3:30AM:

Uganda vs. Afghanistan, Providence Stadium, Guyana

THUR, JUNE 6 - 2:30AM:

Uganda vs. Papua New Guinea, Providence Stadium, Guyana

SUN, JUNE 9 - 3:30AM:

Uganda vs. West Indies, Providence Stadium, Guyana

SAT, JUNE 15 - 3:30AM:

Uganda vs. New Zealand, Brian Lara Stadium, Trinidad & Tobago

Note: Fixtures schedule is in East African Time (EAT)


Full Name: Robinson Obuya

Date of birth: Dec 12, 2000 

Nickname: ‘Simba’ or ‘Robbo’ 

Shirt No: 82 

National Team Debut: June 11, 2023 (vs. Rwanda - Africa Continent Cup tournament in Nairobi) 

Highest Batting Score for Uganda: 92 (vs. Takashinga in Zimbabwe)

Cricket Idol (Local): Roger Mukasa 

Cricket Idol (International): Steve Tikolo 

Bowler eager to face: Jasprit Bumrah (India) 

Favorite Colour: White 

Dream holiday destination: Maldives 

Current Phone type: iPhone 11 Pro