1997 was a very different time for associate cricket. In those days, the ICC ran just one pathway event every few years, the ICC Trophy, now known as the World Cup qualifier.

Unlike now when teams have to qualify for the tournament, in those days every associate member was able to take part, and 22 entered. The open nature of the tournament meant that associate heavyweights such as Kenya and Bangladesh had to play teams like Israel and West Africa respectively.

Israel's presence in the tournament - held in Malaysia, a Muslim majority country - predictably attracted protests. When organisers got wind of a planned pitch invasion for their game against Gibraltar, they attempted to pull a fast one by switching the venue with the Netherlands v Canada match, expecting the protestors to show up, realise Israel weren't there, and leave.

Of course the protestors turned up and had no idea which teams were playing and invaded the field of play regardless, causing the match to be abandoned, though it had no impact on progression to the second stage. The Israel v Gibraltar match took place without incident.

The tournament concluded with Kenya and Bangladesh qualifying for the 1999 World Cup - held mostly in England - after beating Ireland and Scotland respectively in the semi-finals. Scotland, playing a pathway event for the first time, then beat Ireland in the third place play-off to secure their place in the main event.

Earlier in the tournament though, a 16 year old named Franco Nsubuga - named after Italian football legend Franco Baresi - made his international debut for East & Central Africa, a combined team in the manner of the West Indies that covered Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia and Malawi.

It was an inauspiciopus debut, Nsubuga came into bat at 11 but didn't face a ball as his team were bowled out for just 26 by a very strong Dutch line-up, with Asim Khan taking seven wickets for just nine runs, a tournament record that still stands today. The Netherlands chased their target down in 5.3 overs to win by eight wickets, with the young Nsubuga taking a catch.

The following year, Uganda became an ICC member in their own right, and it wasn't long before Nsubuga - more commonly going by just plain Frank - became a key member of their side. He played for them in the 2001 ICC Trophy - the last for which teams didn't have to qualify - made his first-class debut in 2004 against Namibia in the Intercontinental Cup, played in the 2005 ICC Trophy, played one of the first World Cricket League tournaments in Darwin in 2007, the World Cup Qualifiers of 2009 and 2014, and - aged 38 - made his T20I debut against Botswana after universal T20I status was introduced from 2019.

He has seen it all in associate cricket, being a mainstay of the Ugandan side as they hovered just below the top tier of associate cricket for two decades. He played against Afghanistan on their way up the rankings - and beat them by scoring 62 from 44 balls. If selected, he will play them again tonight.

Frank Nsubuga batting against Afghanistan in Beunos Aires in 2009

Frank Nsubuga batting against Afghanistan in Beunos Aires in 2009 (CricketEurope)

Speaking about his career to the ICC tournament website Nsubuga said, "I was the happiest man [in the world] seeing myself playing for the last 27 years, and the team qualifying because I've been trying, I've been trying my whole life."

He plays in the tournament alongside his younger brother Roger Mukasa. As children the pair idolised West Indian players, with Nsubuga even giving one of his own children the middle name Pollard after West Indies international Kieron. He now plays in the same tournament as them as equals, and he will no doubt be delighted that Uganda are in a group with the co-hosts.

His captain Brian Masaba isn't sure this will be Nsubuga's last hurrah, saying on BBC cricket podcast Stumped that he wouldn't be surprised if he played for another ten years.

That seems unlikely, but for now, a cult figure in associate circles, who has been playing international cricket longer than his country has been an ICC member, since before six of the Ugandan squad were even born and when James Anderson was a 14-year-old playing for Burnley Cricket Club Second XI will, after a 27 year wait, finally play in a World Cup. A remarkable achievement and a highlight of a remarkable career.