Uganda’s ‘home’ in India upgrades with five new grass-wicket pitches

Renovating. Ex-Ranji Trophy star Hattangadi (R) and Sanjay Farm CEO Swetal in-front of Sanjay Farm Ground that has been relaid with five new grass-wicket pitches where Cricket Cranes camp for pre-season every year. PHOTO/COURTESY

After a rather successful trip to Oman in December 2020, Uganda’s senior men’s cricket team harboured many dreams for this year.
Uganda Cricket Association (UCA) had actually held the bull by it horns to avoid any surprises by sending the national team to the Middle East and Asia for 11 build-up matches against worthy franchises before the Covid-19 pandemic struck.
Uganda looked to make hay in preparation for continental and global engagements that would have eclipsed with a sniff at One Day International (ODI) status in the International Cricket Council (ICC) World Cup Challenge League B – which is a pathway to the 2023 World Cup in India.

Uganda won four-games from the engrossing tour with at least 10 youngsters getting a shoo-in into the national set-up on the three-legged tour; Doha, Sapphale and Chikhli. Whereas the global pandemic has made Uganda’s preparations null and void, the period has somewhat offered new settings for the playing facilities the world over including Uganda’s ‘unofficial home’ in India at the Shri Mohanlal Manilal Desai Cricket Ground, Sanjay Farm.
“With the ground out of action due to Covid-19, we thought it wise to upgrade it to international standards,” disclosed Paramveer Cricket Academy, located at the farm, CEO Swetal Desai.

“Some international teams have showed interest in us hosting them and we have put in place five new pitches. We have also relaying the outfield. It was wobbly before but we want it to be even and make fielding enjoyable. The cyclone is also here to help in some parts of South Gujarat.”
Desai, who is also the president of the Rotary Club of Chikhli River Front added; “We have also put lights for half of the ground to enable night training. We have planted new recommended grass and netted off the ground to avoid the balls going into the road and hitting those passing by. We have also some flowers outside the ground to beautify the place.”

Bermuda, who are looking to revive the game in their country are one of the nations that have previously shown interest in using the farm as their boot camp in preparation for their international seasons like Uganda.
Desai, whose rotary club has also delivered 20,000 relief food kits to the people of Navsari District during these tough times, disclosed to Daily Monitor that pitch venture will cost the farm an estimated $40,000 (about Shs148m). The ground has already got a nod from Baroda Cricket Association (BCA) CEO Shishir Hattangadi, also a former Ranji Trophy player, who was impressed with the whole facilities in place.
And with Uganda destined to most likely restart their international calendar with a Tour To Asia next year, the Cricket Cranes are set to be immediate beneficiaries from the new-look facilities at historical Sanjay Farm.