Women's cricket elite league sets the bar
- Written by John Vianney Nsimbe
A three-team men's cricket elite league gets underway on Thursday, January 26 at the Lugogo cricket oval.
This comes on the back of the Women's cricket elite league, that concluded on Sunday, January 22 in Lugogo. The three team tournament, dubbed the Waterfalls elite cricket championship was won by the Sipi Trekkers, who beat the Itanda Kayakers in second and the Bujagali Rafters in third.
However, before the men's teams take to the crease, the major talking point from the women's tournament, is the Uganda Cricket Association's strategy to make the game more competitive.
Davis Karashani, the tournament director, and former cricket Cranes captain said: "As a fraternity, we have realised that the lack of quality domestic competitions has undermined our chances of being competitive at international level.
But with this new arrangement, it is a big test for players going up against each other. This enables them to improve."
The elite cricket league intends to offer more than the domestic leagues for both the men in the women did. For example, the men's league, which is played in the 50 overs version of cricket, had eight teams.
Playing each other in a round-robin format, each team would record a total of 14 games a year. Although that was little cricket played, it was least of the game's problems. But the biggest problem, was the lack of competition, to enable the national team thrive as well.
A case in point, Karashani was part of a Tornado Bees side that dominated between 2010 and 2015, winning championship after championship.
Before then, their rivals Tornado had enjoyed their share of dominance, before Aziz Damani took control of winning matters since 2017 until now. Karashani said that they had little control on the clubs and the league generally. This is because players will always go to the highest bidder, to support their lives.
Yet, this affects the national team since the top players all end up in one team. Ultimately, they face no competition, to foster their game.
But with the elite league, they have been spread out. The best three batters in the country are drafted in three different teams. Janet Mbabazi, who captained the winning Sipi Trekkers was the finals best player.
Mbabazi is also one of the first names on the women's national team, and its performances last year kept improving.
Mbabazi attributes that to the level of cricket in the elite league. Yet, Mbabazi was quick to acknowledge the display of her younger opponent, Proscovia Alako of the Itanda Kayakers. The teen star, who was a top batter in the tournament was voted MVP.
However, Karashani added that the fact that she held her own against more experienced opponents, is a good sign for Ugandan cricket. The fact that this tournament attracted some of the best around the region, from Kenya and Rwanda, raised the level.
Players from Nepal, Botswana, Kenya and Namibia are asking to be drafted for the men's action this weekend. But there is only so much space according to Karashani. So, expect a big bash!