When all the chips were down, and the pride of Ugandan cricket battered, following the relegation of the men’s team to division four of international cricket, and the under-19 boys lost a World Cup qualification final to Kenya in July, this was considered a ‘dead’ year.
However, the Lady Cricket Cranes team posted a 90/7 score to beat Zimbabwe’s 89/7 in the final of the International Cricket Council (ICC) Africa Region T20 World Cup qualifiers last Saturday, and restored the pride of Ugandan cricket.
“You have to fight and work to earn recognition. And by being African T20 champions, our efforts have paid off,” Lydia Bakumpe, the team manager, said.
Bakumpe is one of the pioneers of the national women’s cricket league, which started in 2008. And having been part of the national team in its formative years then, Bakumpe experienced many disappointments. It has been a long hard walk to this point. Skipper Kevin Awino says it was hard work and team ethic.
Yet, there have been more intricate factors such as the two league divisions of women’s cricket. Coupled with an ever-growing Girls Schools Cricket Week tournament, there has been growing activity in the ladies game.
It is, therefore, unsurprising that Gertrude Candiru was the MVP at a tournament against more fancied opponents like Kenya and Zimbabwe.
Youth also kept Uganda in good stead. After years of shortcoming, the addition of schoolgirls to the team did not only bring exuberance, but hunger too. Since the youth had not experienced much failure, they played with a lot of conviction and determination to prove a point.
Therefore, the public perception towards the women’s game is expected to change henceforth, as seen in the kind of media coverage their return attracted.
Similarly, the Lady Cricket Cranes have to play Papua New Guinea, Netherlands, Ireland, Bangladesh and Scotland later this year, to make certain, their place at next year’s ICC T20 World Cup in the West Indies.
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