10 October 2013

Uganda: Marylebone Tests Uganda Cricket Side

As the rest of Uganda marked 51 years of Independence, the cricket fraternity spent the day at the Lugogo cricket oval watching Uganda's select side against visiting British side Marylebone.

Dominated by mostly national team players or be it some on the fringes, Lawrence Sematimba, a mainstay with the national team since the early 2000s, led the Uganda side to a score of 171/10 in 37.3 overs. In turn, Marylebone posted 175/4 in 37 overs.

However, with another one-day game lined up at the Entebbe Cricket oval today, October 11 and two more T20 games at Lugogo and Kyambogo during the weekend, by the time Marylebone's tour ends on October 15, a lot should have been gained from this test.

Last weekend, Marylebone played a Uganda eleven in a two-day game that ended in a draw following a heavy downpour that stopped the game. The visit of Marylebone comes across as a test that is intended to give more national team cricket players preparatory games before they travel to the UAE for the ICC T20 Cricket World Cup qualifiers.

And Henry Okecho, the national team assistant coach, told The Observer that it is working out well for them. "More and more players have been given a chance especially those that didn't travel to South Africa to make a case for themselves on whether they can return to the national team fold", said Okecho.

With Sematimba scoring 56 runs in 79 balls, there is every chance that he can now return to the fold, which he was dropped from when the South Africa tour was on. Equally, Deus Muhumuza returned his chances of returning to team Uganda a lot of good following his 29 runs in 38 balls score.

A similar case would probably be advanced for Hamza Saleh's 28 runs in 34 balls. Okecho said he and his boss, (the head coach) Johann Rudolph are closely monitoring every player. Speaking of Rudolph, the Namibian coach said upon the team's return from South Africa that although they won eight of the nine games there, it was pre-mature to celebrate.

He said he didn't think the opposition was strong enough. Marylebone, however, is seen as a bigger challenge; somewhat close to what team Uganda will find in the UAE or New Zealand (January 2014 during the one-day ICC cricket world Cup qualifiers) according to Okecho.

That said, Okecho feels that the team is shaping up well for those tournaments. "In the bowling department, we are okay. That includes our spinners - no complaints. The opening batsmen, one to three, aren't bad."

But Rodney Mugisha, a cricket development officer, disagrees with Okecho. He reasons that good cricket sides build a winning run on their openers as opposed to the middle order. "Once the openers fail to provide stability, say 50 runs each, then it is less likely that we can win a cricket match."

One Marylebone player said the major problem with Uganda's batsmen was failure to select the right shots, which made them susceptible to being bowled out easily. So, over to you Rudolph and Okecho.

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