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Uganda qualify for ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2024, open new gateway for future growth

Uganda cricket team qualify for ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2024, open new gateway for future growth. Uganda's journey to the WC qualification.

Uganda cricket team qualify for ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2024  | Walking Wicket (Photo_ ©CricketUganda_Twitter)
Uganda qualify for ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2024 (Photo: ©CricketUganda/Twitter)

Uganda's cricketing journey took a historic turn as they secured qualification for the 2024 ICC Men’s T20 World Cup, defeating Zimbabwe and securing a spot alongside Namibia in the tournament. This remarkable achievement unfolded during the Africa leg of the qualifiers when they triumphed over Rwanda in their final matches. The qualification marks a significant milestone for Uganda, as they earn a place in a senior World Cup in either format for the first time.

While Uganda was part of the East Africa team at the 1975 World Cup and had their Under 19 side participate in the 2022 U-19 World Cup, this recent success at the T20 level is truly unprecedented.

Uganda’s victory over Zimbabwe played a pivotal role in securing their qualification. The experienced Dinesh Nakrani's stellar figures of 3/14 in four overs restricted Zimbabwe to 136/7 in their allotted 20 overs. Subsequently, Alpesh Ramjani and Riazat's powerful 40-run contributions at a strike rate of over 150 ensured Uganda's triumph. Their victories over Nigeria and Kenya in the subsequent games further solidified their claim to a spot in the T20 World Cup.

The evolution of cricket in Uganda

While the precise origins of cricket in Uganda remain unknown, its existence dates back to the 16th century. England shepherds utilized their staff as makeshift bats, and the sheep gates served as their bowling targets. Unfortunately, there is no documented information about the founders of the game in Uganda.

Former national team player Christopher Luswata suggests that cricket's introduction to the country is linked to the dawn of British colonialism in the 1900s. Similar to other parts of the world, cricket enjoyed popularity in Uganda during that era. Samuel Walusimbi, one of the only two Ugandans to play at a World Cup, reminisces about the fertile cricketing landscape of the past. He recalls, "There were pitches almost in every part of the country. We used to go to Masaka, Gulu, and Tororo to play cricket. In Lugogo, we had like four."

With the leadership of the game primarily in the hands of locals, the early 1990s witnessed the inception of crucial tournaments. The Mawanda Cup, dedicated to the first native club in the country, the Africa Cricket Club, was among them. Additionally, the Munabi Cup, played in the 90s, added to the vibrancy of cricket in Uganda.

Women’s cricket wasn't part of the country until the 2000s. However, with its introduction, the trajectory of the game in Uganda has consistently risen to the top. This marked a significant development in the fraternity, bringing about further positive changes.

Uganda’s T20 WC qualification opens new path for future growth

Uganda has now earned a spot among the 20 teams participating in the T20 WC 2024 in the West Indies and the United States of America (USA). Nuwagaba, the head of the Uganda Cricket Association (UCA), emphasized the victory's importance, foreseeing a rise in opportunities, partnerships, and increased funding for the team. The majority of the team members juggle cricket with different jobs during the off-season for their livelihood, and this qualification could potentially elevate the status of cricket in Uganda.

The triumph not only signified a cricketing victory but also symbolized unlocking doors to various opportunities. The immediate emotional outpour on the ground was a testament to the significance of this achievement for the cricket officials and players, propelling them towards new heights.

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