Uganda coach blames ICC and selectors for defections
Uganda’s coach at the recent ICC Under-19 World Cup Qualifiers has said the ICC needs to look at where events are staged if players are to be discouraged from jumping ship and seeking political asylum.
Sam Walusimbi was speaking following the disappearance of six of the Uganda squad who remained behind in Toronto when the remainder of the team flew back home. There whereabouts remains unknown, as does that of five of the Afghanistan squad who also went into hiding.
“The ICC may have to re-think where such qualifiers are hosted,” Walusimbi told Uganda’s Observer newspaper. “When we went to Sri-Lanka, no players disappeared. I guess qualifiers should be in less developed countries.”
Earlier this week an ICC spokesman told Cricinfo: "[It] is the responsibility of each of those members. It is also the responsibility of those members to have knowledge of each of their players and their likely behaviour."
Walusimbi also said the onus was on the board to pick players who were less likely to use a tournament as an excuse to seek political asylum. “If you are to assess the players that didn’t return with us as planned, they’ve all dropped out of school if I’m not mistaken. They looked at Canada as a lifetime opportunity to improve their lives, which I think they didn’t envision here. They had nothing to lose if they stayed abroad but all to gain. That’s my feeling but I guess the players are in better position to explain their move.
“One lesson we’ve learned is the kind of players we have to pick in the future teams; the kind we are sure have a stake here at home to protect and so can’t run away.”
He admitted the loss of the six was a major blow to future plans. “The sudden loss of players is never good. It affects your plans and as far as I am concerned, I thought some of these lads were going to graduate to the senior team. It’s difficult to develop a player in cricket. Nevertheless, although it’s a big blow, we’ll build other players, I guarantee.”
Martin Williamson is executive editor of ESPNcricinfo and managing editor of ESPN Digital Media in Europe, the Middle East and Africa