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Patrick Ochan and Jimmy Okello have been banned for life by the Ugandan Cricket Association (UCA), after the duo went missing at the end of the ICC World Cricket League Division Three tournament in Darwin.
The bans are unlikely to have a significant impact on the duo - it has been reported that they have now taken up residence in Adelaide after applying for, and successfully obtaining, working visas.
"By the rules of the association, we dissociated ourselves from the act [their disappearance] and banned them from playing cricket for Uganda ever again. They would have no cause to come back to us at all," William Kibukamusoke, the chairman of UCA, told Cricinfo on telephone from Kampala.
Ochan and Okello, who are multi-talented sportsmen, have also been barred from representing Uganda in any other sport. The duo have played in the International Tennis Federation's (ITF's) circuit. Ochan was the more successful of the two since he had a career-best ranking of 428 in the ITF's junior segment, and represented Uganda in the Davis Cup.
"They will never [represent Uganda in any international sport]. We passed this information around all our sister associations. Their talent is now wasted," Kibukamusoke said. "That [their banning] was the statement we made to the police in Darwin. We had to leave the case clear, and there was no use moving out without making a police case."
Interestingly, Ronnie Kintu, a sports journalist with the New Vision, a Ugandan newspaper, also went missing with the two after Uganda defeated Argentina in the final of the tournament on June 2. "He [Kintu] wasn't grabbed but the other two were grabbed - wherever they were staying in the neighbourhood, they were uprooted and apprehended," Kibukamusoke said.
Though Ochan and Okello were found by in Sydney by Australia's Immigration Department on June 12 - no action was taken as their visas were valid till July 28. The Age had reported that Ochan and Okello were staying with Ken Skewes, a South Australia player who they befriended at an Under-19 tournament. Skewes had contacted the authorities when he realised that the two were being sought.
Meanwhile, Ochan and Okello are enjoying life in their adopted country. "We got the visas last week and I'm even going for official cricket practice with my new club tomorrow," Ochan told Daily Monitor on August 1. Jimmy [Okello] is currently playing soccer with the Africa Stars Club and scoring goals for fun. Our ability to play most of the games here has made us very popular."
Martin Williamson is executive editor of ESPNcricinfo and managing editor of ESPN Digital Media in Europe, the Middle East and AfricaFeeds: Martin Williamson
© ESPN EMEA Ltd.
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Executive editor Martin Williamson joined the Wisden website in its planning stages in 2001 after failing to make his millions in the internet boom when managing editor of Sportal. Before that he was in charge of Sky Sports Online and helped launch and run Sky News Online. With a preference for all things old (except his wife and children), he has recently confounded colleagues by displaying an uncharacteristic fondness for Twenty20 cricket. His enthusiasm for the game is sadly not matched by his ability, but he remains convinced that he might be a late developer and perseveres in the hope of an England call-up with his middle-order batting and non-spinning offbreaks. He is now managing editor of ESPN EMEA Digital Group as well as his Cricinfo responsibilities.