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Franky's optimism says it all...

by Colin Macbeth

IT'S a strange game, cricket! As in England, it's the women who seem much more up to the 'job' than the blokes!

While the start of the year saw the Ugandan men come back from the Antipodes holding their collective heads in shame (after a less than lacklustre showing during the WCQs in New Zealand), the women could point to their triumph - not for the first time - in the ICC Africa Girls U19 T20 contest, in Dar es Salaam, where, under coach Grace Mutyagaba, they won all five games; versus Tanzania, Kenya, Rwanda, Botswana and Mozambique.

They could also point to coming second only to South Africa in the ICC Africa Senior Women's T20 championship that followed, Naomi Kayondo captaining her charges to victory over Kenya, Tanzania and Namibia - and going down only to South Africa.

The squad was coached by former Rwanda coach Davis Turinane, and managed by Rita Tinka; the U19s, captained by Janet Mbabazi, were managed by fitness fanatic Trudy Namulondo.

So, although the headlines could read: "South Africa dominate ICC Senior Women T20 tourney", it could be equally true to say that Uganda returned home as 'winners' after they had defeated host side Tanzania by 15 runs in the second-place decider.

The horns hooted, the flags flew and the vuvuzelas blew when they came back to Kampala.

Optimistic pace bowler and batter Franklyn Najjumba, who besides being a star of the national team is women's development officer for the Uganda Cricket Association (UCA), wrote only a few days ago on learning of the West Indies' valiant semi-final battle with Australia in the Women's T20 World Cup in Dhaka, Bangladesh: "I know one day we shall definitely reach there."

There's optimism for you!

But will the men be able to pick up the pieces and follow suit?

Charity Retain Title

Kenya stun Tanzania as South Africa dismiss Tanzania

Girls hit Namibs

Kebba, Kyobe win big at cricket awards

By Charles Mutebi

Success and Uganda cricket shared the same platform for a change on Thursday evening.


Uganda Olympic Committee chief William Blick hands over a trophy to Kevin Apio,
captain of Wanderers, the best women’s team for the year 2013.

Thanks to the UCA awards, held at the MTN Arena to celebrate the best of the 2013 season, local cricket finally ended a spell of consistent bad news that has run for nearly two months. Still, there was a touch of irony in the destiny of the ceremony’s two biggest awards. Nicholas Kebba was named player-of-series for the 2013 Multiple Industries Cricket League Division 1 after his eye-catching exploits helped Tornado B win their maiden national title.

Kebba beat Arthur Kyobe to the prestigious award but the Tornado opener won the next big thing —best batsman. Kyobe amassed a league-best 461 runs, a whole 102 runs ahead of second place, who happened to be Kebba.

Apart from dominating the night, Kyobe and Kebba (who also claimed best wicketkeeper award with a league-best 22 dismissals), had one other critical thing in common. Neither was part of Uganda’s ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier in New Zealand.

The reasons for their absence were different - Kyobe was controversially dropped from the team for disciplinary reasons while Kebba has never really been considered due to his hectic work schedule as a full-time lawyer. Nevertheless, no one wants to see the best players in the league failing to make the national team. After all, of what purpose is the national league if not to groom players for international cricket?

“For the past six years, if you look at the top batsmen in the league, many of them have not been part of the national team,” explained Kebba.

The amateur nature of the local league cricket occasionally leaves the selectors’ hands tied because on the one hand, they want to call up the best players in the league but on the other, they want to have players who can commit to national team training sessions. But for players with rewarding jobs in corporate Uganda, giving them up to chase a cricket career with small to no financial benefits is not an option.

“I have been called up for national team trials on various occasions,” revealed Kebba. “But I have been forced to pull out because of school and work commitments.” Kebba explained that he would have loved to be part of the national team during last year but, he added, “I would have only been available on my terms ”

Kebba attributed his performances last season to the wisdom of old age that is more valuable in cricket than many other sports. “The game becomes easier as you age,” he said. “I am elated for winning these awards. I have come close a number of times and winning player-of-series is a goal I have always had so I thank my team-mates for helping me achieve it.”

Thirteen other cricketers from the major three leagues also received trophies. Challengers’ Uganda international tennis and cricket player Daniel Ruyange claimed Multiple Industries Cricket League Division 2 player-of-series, while Damalie Busingye took the corresponding award in the women’s national league.

Earlier Uganda news