|Current ranking||9 (ICC) 9 (CricketEurope)|
|Qualification||2nd in WCL Division 3, Argentina 2009|
|Group phase schedule||1 April: Namibia, Stan Friedman Oval
2 April: Canada, WITS University
4 April: Ireland, Stan Friedman Oval
6 April: Scotland, WITS University
8 April: Oman, LC de Villiers Oval, Pretoria
|Key players||Kenneth Kamyuka, Arthur Kyobe, Frank Nsubuga|
|Wise Old Head||Nehal Bibodi|
|Emerging player||Roger Mukasa|
|Preparation||Visits to Kenya and South Africa, World Cricket League Division 3|
The Ugandan cricket team has for long been well regarded by those in the know, having been seen as an Associate cricket side most likely to break into the top tier in the next few years, but have not yet achieved to their potential, being prone to batting failure and inconsistency. Great successes such as at the 2001 World Cup qualifiers, going unbeaten in the group stages, were followed by a dissapointing run in Ireland four years later. Recent famous scalps include Kenya, Zimbabwe, and Bermuda, yet these wonderful performances were obscured by defeats to Papua New Guinea and a difficult warm-up tour in South Africa.
They are, however, coming off a successful tournament in Argentina, finishing second overall in the World Cricket League Division Three and thereby qualifying for the upcoming World Cup Qualifier tournament in South Africa. In Argentina, the team's fortitude and perserverence were tested to the limits, and not found wanting. This thanks in no small part perhaps to the regimen imposed under their South African coach, Barney Mohamend, who has instilled within the team a greater desire and backbone than we have seen before.
Looking forward to the upcoming World Cup Qualifying tournament in early April, they will have the comfort of playing under familiar conditions in South Africa, seem to have gelled well as a team, and shall be meeting some very high quality opposition which will test their newly formed mettle.
In Kenneth Kamyuka they have one of the most exciting bowling/allrounders in Associates cricket, the player of the tournament at the recently concluded series in Argentina. A wicket-taking fast bowler as well as a devastatingly effective batsman he is capable of single-handedly turning a game around and winning it himself. Charles Waiswa and Asad Sseyiga (coming in for the injured Danniel Ruyange) offer excellent follow-through in the seam dept. with capable medium pace swing from Ronald Ssemanda and Joel Olweny.
The off-spinning pair of Frank Nsubuga and Davis Arinaitwe know how to keep the opposition batsmen in check while consistently taking useful wickets, with spin reserves coming from the experienced "old men" of the squad, Nehal Bibodi, and Baig Akbar.
The main issue, however, is with the middle-order batting which has struggled to impose, from numbers three right through to seven. Except for Frank Nsubuga's sparkling thump of 62 in the first match in Argentina, the middle five batsmen averaged only a very disappointing 8.2 runs each , collectively, per innings. It is no surprise then that Uganda only just scraped into the second place position in Argentina and the middle order must come good for them to have any hope of real success, measured as a top eight, or even top ten, finish in South Africa. It may be relevant to note that two experienced batsmen, Lawrence Ssematimba and Nandi Kishore, have been drafted into the side in an obvious bid to shore up this weakness.
Much, also, will depend upon Junior Kwebiha, the captain. Since coming back into the side, after his work related absence, he has not yet regained the form which saw him hit 109 not out against Argentina in 2001, nor the all-round form of 2004/5 when he helped the team in beating Namibia in a first-class match. Kwebiha, however, has the intelligence and wit to lead the team with great capability; now he must point the way with the bat and ball and turn in a real captain's performance.
Arthur Kyobe and Roger Mukasa were an exceedingly bright spot at the recent Division Three tourney, and welcome it is indeed that Uganda now have a reliable opening pair. The young Mukasa, having followed his brothers Lawrence and Frank in playing for the National side has, dare we say, finally taken the bull by the horns and is in the form of his life, having achieved the highest aggregate run total of all batsmen in Argentina.
With daily drills and exercises the team is in very good physical fitness, and will play warm-up matches against Western Province and Boland prior to the tournament. The opening game in South Africa against Namibia will be a key test for both sides: when they met fourteen months ago, Namibia were bowled out for 145, but Uganda disappointingly collapsed to 118 all out.
Much water under the bridge since then, however, and this match will be an indication of how competitive Uganda may be in the weeks ahead. Matches against Canada and Ireland follow and Uganda will need to win at least one of these three opening matches if they are to have any realistic chance of joining the top sides in the final eights portion of the tournament following the group stages.
No matter their final placing however, just by getting into this tournament Uganda has once again shown that it is possible to succeed on the world's stage, no matter how humble one's origins.