The Observer (Kampala)

14 February 2013

Uganda: Time for Cricketers to Get the Job Done

column

Tributes, wishes, donations and sponsorship are of late coming the way of cricket. Pepsi-Cola are the latest to lend a hand.

On Tuesday, they offered Shs 20 million to the Uganda Cricket Association (UCA) to help in the organisation of the forthcoming International Cricket Council Africa Region Division One T20 championship. Before that, Mehta group donated bats, balls, shin pads and head guards, among others. This was after the national men's cricket team returned from a tour of UAE in January.

Indeed, with all the lovey-dovey cricket is experiencing, the least this support from Pepsi, Mehta and Multiple Industries, who are the title sponsors of the national league deserve is a big thank you. But that thank you would best be presented by the national cricket players getting the job done at the international meets that lie in wait.

However, having lost four of the five one-day games in UAE in January, it is difficult to optimistic about Uganda's chances in one-day international games. See, the stakes will be much higher at the World Cricket League Division Three Championships in Bermuda from April 28 to May 5. And, unless Uganda finishes among the top two in a tournament that includes Bermuda, Oman, Italy, Nepal and the USA, sponsors' efforts would have gone to waste!

And if the team finishes fifth or sixth, Uganda will find itself in Division Four. Although Uganda is favourite to defend the T20 Championship later this month, the future of cricket in Uganda hinges on that championship in Bermuda. A top two finish will not only ensure qualification to Division Two and participation in the World Cup qualifiers that begin in 2014, UCA will be guaranteed at least $365,000 from international governing body ICC as development fund.

This would be a relief to the UCA, which is struggling financially. In all honesty, there are no excuses for the players on team Uganda. They must deliver and get us out of this Division Three ditch because it is their horrible display in April 2011 that got us relegated to this level when they finished fifth out of six nations.

That said, I have heard once too often that unless the cricketers are paid more money than they are now, results won't be forthcoming. Well, I doubt we are all paid what we feel we are worth. But that doesn't stop us going out there and doing our jobs. Feeling disadvantaged is of no help and must be avoided if belief and ability are to be restored. It is such an attitude that our players must have and if they don't, it is better they quit now rather than later.

I wouldn't want to put these players under extraordinary pressure, but the truth be told, there is no room for error in 2013 and winning must now become a habit especially when it matters most. Aware as they may be that playing for the national team is a privilege, that will be seen in them getting the runs on board and picking the wickets like their lives depend on it.

Show that you are worthy of donning those national flag colours and avoid the pretext that I did my best when Uganda has defeat weighing down on it. Your best is only worth paying attention to when Uganda triumphs. As The Cranes (national football team) aims to make it to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, the pressure won't be on only them this year.

The men's cricket team also has to qualify for division two. So, on your feet, soldiers!

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