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September 13, 2007
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, who was the more successful of the two, had a career-best ranking of 428 in the ITF's junior level, 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 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."
Ashok Ganguly is an editorial assistant with Cricinfo
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