To qualify for Bangladesh would be a defining moment for Ugandan cricket, says captain
Uganda captain Davis Arinaitwe Karashani cannot wait to get started with the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier UAE 2013 (WT20Q) to show the world the progress his side has made.
Uganda is placed in Group A alongside host United Arab Emirates (UAE), Namibia, Canada, USA, Italy, Hong Kong and current ICC WT20Q champion, Ireland.
“Not just personally for me, but for my team, the tournament offers a great opportunity to show the progress we have made as a side. We will play good and entertaining cricket as we get yet another chance on the international circuit,” said the 26-year-old.
The right-handed off-spinner believed that a good performance in the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier would go a long way in showing how the sport is growing in Uganda.
“For Uganda, cricket is a big deal. We may be a small country in Africa, but to go out there and scale the heights of the world will be an achievement. There is a lot of support for the team as we have a lot of well-wishers. They are all right behind us and look forward to our qualification to the World Twenty20,” added Arinaitwe.
“It will be a dream come true to make it to the World Twenty20 in Bangladesh. But we are prepared for the challenge,” opined Arinaitwe.
One of the three sides from Africa in the competition scheduled to run from 15to 30 November, Uganda qualified by reaching the final of the ICC World Cricket League Africa Region Division One Twenty20 in March, losing to Kenya by 19 runs.
Arinaitwe believes the quality that has stood his side in good stead throughout the regional qualifying process is that the players play for each other.
“The strength has always been that we play for each other. We are a good fielding side and our batting has stepped up as well. But the one thing that works well for us is the togetherness in the squad,” praised Arinaitwe.
Having played in UAE during last year’s ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier, Arinaitwe was satisfied with the conditions that his side will encounter during the tour.
“In terms of the cricketing aspect, we have always been an all-round side. This time we hope to do better and go all the way. We definitely do have a good idea about the conditions. There is not much for the bowlers. Overall we know what to expect but it will be the same for all the teams. The side that executes its game plan will have the final say,” reckoned Arinaitwe.
The biggest influence this time on the squad is new coach Johannes Rudolph. A former Namibia coach and father of South Africa Test batsman Jacques, Johannes is an old hand on the Associate and Affiliate circuit.
“Johannes is a big influence on the team. He has been successful on the circuit. He has brought in a positive belief in the team with his knowledge of other players and other teams. He has managed to gel well with the players at an individual level. He has had a big impact as an individual. Now the players have to repay him by doing well on the field,” praised Arinaitwe.
Uganda will play two warm-up games in the lead-up to the tournament, against Papua New Guinea (PNG) and Afghanistan. Arinaitwe believes that the warm-up games will put his side in good form for the tournament.
“We are not going to an unknown territory. Once we get jet lag out of the way, it is important to get into the whole playing zone. Two T20 games should be a good enough level of cricket for us.
“We have been preparing anyway from the beginning of the year. The guys have learnt a lot from last tournament. We have had six months of cricket and have also played in the East Africa Premier League. Then we went on a tour to South Africa, where we played the MCC. Overall, it has been a pretty good build up,” said Arinaitwe.
Arinaitwe said that his objective for the tournament was to qualify for the ICC World Twenty20 2014.
“It would be a very big defining moment for our cricket. Cricket in Uganda right now is behind athletics, boxing, soccer and rugby. If we qualify, cricket will push ahead of some of those sports. It will be a big deal for us as a cricket team representing Uganda.
“We will get a lot of support from the Uganda government and an entire nation of 35 million people. Our families are behind us. It is now up to us to live up to all these people’s honour and come back with success in the tournament. There will nothing bigger than that,” concluded Arinaitwe.
Uganda will begin its WT20Q campaign on 15 November at Abu Dhabi Oval 1 against tournament host, UAE.
Uganda Davis Arinaitwe Karashani (captain), Hamu Kayondo Bagenda, Arthur Solomon Kyobe, Brian Masaba, Roger Mukasa, Abram Ndhlovu Mutyagaba, Phillemon Selowa Mukobe, Frank Nsubuga, Richard Gideon Okia, Raymond Otim, Patrick Ochan, Jonathan Sebanja, Henry Senyondo, Almuzahim Hamza Saleh, Charles Waiswa