Uganda Cricket Association (UCA) is looking to start the men’s front of local cricket in 2023 on a high with an exciting edition of the Waterfalls Elite Twenty20 Cup this week.
UCA is walking in a good space after successfully staging the women’s edition of the same event last weekend which was won by the Sipi Trekkers who defeated the Itanda Kayakers by 17 runs at Lugogo Oval.
“The women’s edition of the Water Falls T20 last week set a very high bar in terms of the quality of cricket and we expect the men to take it a notch higher,” UCA Chief Executive Officer Allan Mugume acknowledged.
A similar format and the franchises including the Bujagali Rafters are being maintained for the men’s episode which will run from January 26-29 at Lugogo.
“The action starts on a public holiday so we expect a few people to come through and watch the games but even those that can’t we shall have a live stream available,” Mugume remarked during the tournament launch held at the Lugogo cricket oval on Wednesday.
UCA and the tournament’s organizing committee led by director Davis Karashani are breathing the same air.
“We expect the men’s version to provide a high tempo quality cricket brand that attracts more foreign players and commercial partners,” said Karashani, a former national team skipper.
The Cricket Cranes have entered key stars with Kenneth Waiswa captaining the Sipi Trekkers, another all-rounder Riazat Ali Shah leading the Itanda Kayakers while national captain Brian Masaba has a similar role with the Bujagali Rafters.
Veteran spinner Frank Nsubuga will act a coach-player in company of Abu Mayanja for the Trekkers. Then coach Yusuf Nanga, usually busy with lady cricket teams, is now up for a new challenge with the Kayakers and this side will be managed by Akbar Baig.
In terms of broadcast, the women’s seven matches played attracted a good online audience with Sunday’s final attracting more than 1000 viewers. This is partly because UCA had invited four players from Rwanda and Kenya who were split up across the three franchises.
For the men’s do, UCA is set to announce 10 players who will entice the crowds both at local, regional and continental levels over the next four days.
First, the foreign legion has attracted stars including Botswana Captain Karabo Mothlanka who will be featuring for Bujjagali Rafters. Malawi has also sent in three exciting faces Sami Sohail & Blessing Pondani both of whom will play for the Trekkers while Donex Kansonkho is with the Kayakers.
The trio attended Tuesday’s Uganda national team T20 trial match at Lugogo. Rwanda completes this package with Orchide Tuyisenge and Kevin Irakoze joining the Trekkers whereas Ignace Ntirenganya is an addition to the Kayakers.
And their counterpart in Olivier Itangishaka will be in Kampala for another week, doing the umpiring role. “We are grateful to the partners who have believed in this product without whom it would be impossible to organise. I ask all those that love cricket to come to Lugogo from Thursday to Sunday and watch some thrilling cricket,” said Mugume.
“We thank them (foreign players) for their sacrifice to grow this brand of cricket franchise and them being the best from their nations, they will be expected to light up the tournament as the female players did last week,” Karashani added.
TOURNAMENT’S FOREIGN CAST
Sipi Trekkers: Orchide Tuyisenge & Kevin Irakoze (Rwanda), Sohail Sami & Blessing Pondani (Malawi)
Bujagali Rafters: Karabo Mothlanka (Botswana)
Itanda Kayakers: Donnex Kansonkho (Malawi), Ignance Ntirenganya (Rwanda)
Umpire: Olivier Itangishaka (Rwanda)
TOURNAMENT’S LOCAL CAST
Ronald Lutaaya, Donnex Kansonkho, Alpesh Ramjani, Riazat Ali Shah ©, Pascal Murungi, Steven Wabwose, Anas Baig, Joseph Baguma, Harsh Panchal, Bilal Hassan, Ignace Ntireganya, Innocen Mwebaze, Jonathan Ssebanja
- Coach: Yusuf Nanga
- Team Manager: Akbra Baig Bujjagali
Roger Mukasa, Karabo Mothlanka, Cyrus Kakuru, Juma Miyagi, Brian Masaba ©, Ismail Munir, Calvin Watuwa, Siraje Nsubuga, Pius Oloka, Peter Ocen, Henry Ssenyondo, Baidhu Ivan, Robinson Obuya
- Coach: Jackson Ogwang
- Team Manager: Arnold Byarugaba
Simon Ssesazi, Orichide Tuyisenge, Sami Sohail, Kenneth Waiswa, Robert Ajuna, Brighton Muganzi, Kevin Irakoze, Frank Nsubuga, Fahad Mutagana, David Wabwire, Blessings Pondani, Jonathan Nyiiro, Brian Asaba
- Coaches; Frank Nsubuga
- Team Manager: Abu Mayanja