|Photos||Video & Audio||Blogs||Statistics||Archive||Games||Mobile|
Jinja Senior Secondary School seized the day and ran out winners by the slenderest of margins in this year's Ugandan girls' schools cricket week.
In front of a crowd of some 400 and dozens of marabou storks, the holders, making hard work of defending their title - last played for in 2008 - faced defeat at 43 for 9 in a bid to reach their 54 target. But panic with a string of wides from Sharon Athoula and makeshift last-over bowler Rachael Timbalian set in amongst their opponents, Kampala-based Kalolo Senior Secondary School, and the champions crept to victory by one wicket.
Kololo were themselves fortunate to be the opponents after winning a thrilling semi-final tie against far-flung Soroti Light Secondary School. The doughty north-easterners, having already disposed of former champions King's College Budo, Kampala's City High School and Ndejje Senior Secondary School, raised their game again to post 69 for 9 (20 overs). Kololo, in a rain-affected reply, lost two fewer wickets in reaching the same total.
For Soroti, Esther Ngavirrie scored a sparkling 23; for Kololo, Kevin Apio a solid 27 to bring her total for the tournament to 152.
"There was some great cricket out there," said Ronald Ssemanda, a Uganda men's squad member who was standing as umpire. His comments were echoed by organisers, coaches and spectators as they cheered their teams to the drop during the afternoon final at Lugogo oval.
Jinja, led by Hellen Naudo, one of a cricketing dynasty whose brother, Charles Waiswa, opens the bowling for Uganda, were lucky to retain their crown and Kololo lucky to meet them. Other semi-finalists were Gayaza High School, and 10 teams in all, from the breadth of Uganda, took part in the tournament.
"It was a highly successful tournament," said Diana Musiime, the Uganda women's team manager, who organised the event with an inspired team of assistants. "We can only hope for even better things next year."
Now Uganda's women have the regional Under-19's championships in September to look forward to, followed in December by key qualifiers in Nairobi for the next women's world cup, which they aim to reach.
What will be of interest to the observer was that this competitions was run, staffed, officiated, organised and played by locals - not an expat in sight - and that they played sparkling cricket in sparkling whites.
Assistant editor Sahil Dutta grew up supporting England during the 90s. Despite this, he still enjoys the game. His unrequited passions for Graeme Hick and, in latter years, Vikram Solanki gave him a stoicism that guided him through an Economics degree and a stint working at the European Parliament. He maintains the purest love for Tests and the whims of legspin bowling and still harbours hope that he could be the answer to England's long search for a mystery spinner. As it is, his most exciting cricketing experience was planning a trip to Australia for the 2006-07 Ashes with two utterly indifferent friends. Unfortunately his lung collapsed shortly before his planned departure and the pair were left to wander around from Test to Test, unprepared and clueless. Any comparisons with England are far too obvious to make. That cancelled holiday inspired an Ashes blog which led, via some tea-making at the Wisden Cricketer, to the ESPNcricinfo towers.