By Charles Mutebi
THERE is one simple reason Hamza Saleh was rushed through a gruelling fitness regime to get him in functional shape for the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier in New Zealand.
It is the same reason he was part of the prodigious crop that represented Uganda at two U-19 World Cups in the last decade.
Saleh is easily the most gifted batsman on the Ugandan team, with such effortless technique he makes batting look like an evening stroll in upper Kololo.
He scored 88 in Uganda’s 87-run victory over Whakatane in Sunday’s warm-up match for the New Zealand tournament to get his personal account in the month-long campaign off to a good start.
The real tests will not come until the event starts next week yet Saleh is one player you can expect to be among the runs consistently for Uganda.
He is still one of the least fit players in Uganda’s renowned athletic ranks and it remains to be seen how his endurance will hold up.
But scoring runs requires more skill than muscle and his eye-to-hand coordination is remarkable, his timing enviable.
Saleh’s total of 105 runs was third best in the Ugandan team at last year’s ICC T20 World Qualifier although his average of 13.28 was not spectacular.
Yet the blood and thunder nature of T20 cricket can prove repulsive for batsmen like Saleh who are comfortable pacing their innings.
As such, Saleh’s averages in New Zealand could be much better.