New Vision (Kampala)

Uganda: Cricket Body Attracts Sponsors

Ugandan cricket went through a transition of power in 2012 without any side effects.

If that was the only positive to record about this year, it would still be very significant because peaceful regime changes are as common in local sport as they are in local politics.

Richard Mwami succeeded Kato Sebbaale as chairman of cricket governing body UCA after coming through unopposed in the January polls, which were so serene the only point of contention was the tie between Nicholas Kebba and Amos Kyazze for the post of treasurer.

Smooth exercise

But even that did not lead to any unnecessary drama because Mwami asked to be made interim treasurer as the UCA found a way to break the tie since the constitution had no solution.

Eventually, Kebba stepped aside for Kyazze, nullifying the need for a fresh vote on the matter and maintaining the overall gentleness with which the gentleman's game conducted its elections.

Next on the cards was the improbable chase for a slot at the 2012 ICC T20 World Cup in Sri Lanka. The national men's team simply needed to finish in the top two at the ICC World T20 Qualifier in the UAE.

Truthfully, though, it was never going to happen and Uganda finished 14th out of the 16 participants while Ireland and Afghanistan -- the team with whom Uganda qualified out of the ICC Division just 3 three years ago -- went to the World Cup.

It was Afghanistan's maiden senior World Cup, arguably as big an achievement as the West Indies' eventual, tear-inducing triumph as World Champions.

Uganda's frustrating returns abroad did not, however, prevent the game from pulling off major business deals back home.

Financial boost

Two weeks to the start of the 2012 Men's cricket league season, UCA sealed a three-year sh68m sponsorship deal with Multiple Industries. It was just what the new UCA executive needed let alone the national elite league, which had failed to capture the imagination in recent seasons due a lack of competitiveness.

Four months later, the UCA clinched an even bigger deal after signing a one-year sh200m national teams' sponsorship with Mehta.

Though brief, the agreement is ultimately aimed at helping Uganda regain qualification to the ICC World Cricket League Division 2, which would come with huge cash rewards.

The good tidings moved on-field once the season started because the competitiveness everyone had been clamouring for arrived.

The national men's championship went down to the last match between Tornado and the Wanderers and it wasn't decided until the last over. Tornado (who won the season-opening National T20 championship) pipped the Wanderers to the title by one wicket, making the most of man-of-series Benjamin Musoke's defiant half century.

Tornado sister's club Tornado B gained promotion to the top flight alongside the Tamil Lions, with the Challengers and SKLPS being relegated to the second division.

Charity impressively swept the women's calendar for the second year running, bagging the national league and the T20 Mehta Premier League.

Uganda's representatives in the East Africa elite series continued to do well, this time the Warriors picking a leaf from the Knights' 2011 showing.

Like the Knights, the Warriors reached both finals but had to settle for the East African Premier League after losing the Cup final to unbeaten Coast Pekee.

National women's cricket ended the campaign, with Uganda's U-19 and senior women's sides enjoying mixed fortunes.

The U-19 outfit won the ICC Africa Region 2012 Championship held in Kampala while their seniors flunked at the world cup qualifier in Tanzania, losing three of five games.

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