Ugandans prepare for Under-19 World Cup
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Qualifying for the 2006 Under-19 cricket World Cup saved the face for the rather disappointing performance of the Ugandan cricketers on the international scene. For the second time on trot, the U-19 team will be at the world summit where their senior counterparts failed to reach owing to a disastrous performance during the 2007 World Cup qualifiers in Ireland.
Uganda finished at the bottom of the 12-nation championship. Equally disappointing was the ICC three-day intercontinental championship that had Uganda lose both to neighbours Kenya and Namibia at home in April. The 2005 cricket season had its ups and downs but with more action than before, UCA successfully wiped off the sweat with the U-19 team qualifying for the World Cup. The youngsters came second below Namibia in the qualifiers held in Johannesburg in August. The U-19 team will again rub shoulders with the World's best - Pakistan, New Zealand and Bangladesh - in group A of the 16-nation championship on February 5-19.
Aside from the international front, UCA locally had a successful season with a glimmering annual Castle Lager sponsored league that had Tornado CC lift the title for the third time. Africa CC, Tornado B and Wanderers CC were the immediate rivals but the cast composition of Tornado with eight national players in their ranks was just too much for the opponents.
Tornado's strength brought disaster to many sides, who often failed to score more than 100 runs against the champions. The worst record came from Patidar CC who scored a total of nine runs all out; this was a record. Earlier in the season, the Luswata and Mawanda knock out Cups were successfully conducted with nine clubs taking part and Tornado CC again lifted the trophies of both tournaments.
An elective general assembly was held at Lugogo and a new team of leaders led by Ivan Kyayonka was put in place to replace the Latimer Mukasa executive that had completed a two-year reign.
Five international sides, Melbourne Cricket Club, Nomads CC, Turnham Green CC, Dean Close School and Orlando select XI from the United Kingdom toured Uganda and played series of friendly matches with different local sides.
In development circles, the local association hit a bang by attracting more primary schools under the Mini Cricket Development Programme (MCDP) and this was evident during the successful district, regional, and national festivals held between March and April sponsored by MTN and Stanbic Bank.
The annual Coca cola schools cricket championship was held with participants for the first time playing on a grass wicket.
Busoga College Mwiri made light work of Kololo SSS to lift the trophy for the ninth time and taking it again for keeps. Gayaza High School also rose to the occasion by lifting the girls trophy after beating champions City High School during the World Health Organisation (WHO) sponsored tournament held in December. The 2006 season start with the national U-15 boys and the women teams travelling to Nairobi for the East Africa championship slated for January 5-19. The U-19 boys travel to Sri Lanka for the youth World Cup from February 5-19.
National league sponsors Castle Lager have plans to make the league more competitive and also plan to up grade the Jinja oval to become the second grass wicket in the country.
Tony Munro is Cricinfo's Beyond the Test World correspondent, and Ronnie Kintu writes for the New Vision paper in Kampala