By Charles Mutebi
UCA 2013 Awards
Division 1: Men
Player of Series
Division 2: Men
Player of series
Women’s National League
Player of Series
SUCCESS and Uganda cricket shared the same platform for a change on Thursday evening.
Thanks to the UCA awards, held at the MTN Arena to celebrate the best of the 2013 season, local cricket finally ended a spell of consistent bad news that has run for nearly two months.
Still, there was a touch of irony in the destiny of the ceremony’s two biggest awards.
Nicholas Kebba was named player-of-series for the 2013 Multiple Industries Cricket League Division 1 after his eye-catching exploits helped Tornado B win their maiden national title.
Kebba beat Arthur Kyobe to the prestigious award but the Tornado opener won the next big thing —best batsman.
Kyobe amassed a league-best 461 runs, a whole 102 runs ahead of second place, who happened to be Kebba.
Apart from dominating the night, Kyobe and Kebba (who also claimed best wicketkeeper award with a league-best 22 dismissals), had one other critical thing in common.
Both were not part of Uganda’s ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier in New Zealand. The reasons for their absence were different — Kyobe was controversially dropped from the team for disciplinary reasons while Kebba has never really been considered due to his hectic work schedule as a full-time lawyer.
Nevertheless, no one wants to see the best players in the league failing to make the national team. After all, of what purpose is the national league if not to groom players for international cricket?
“For the past six years, if you look at the top batsmen in the league, many of them have not been part of the national team,” explained Kebba.
The amateur nature of the local league cricket occasionally leaves the selectors’ hands tied because on the one hand, they want to call up the best players in the league but on the other, they want to have players who can commit to national team training sessions.
But for players with rewarding jobs in corporate Uganda, giving them up to chase a cricket career with small to no financial benefits is not an option.
“I have been called up for national team trials on various occasions,” revealed the 20 year-old Kebba.
“But I have been forced to pull out because of school and work commitments.”
Kebba explained that he would have loved to be part of the national team during last year but, he added, “I would have only been available on my terms. ”
Kebba attributed his performances last season to the wisdom of old age that is more valuable in cricket than many other sports.
“The game becomes easier as you age,” he said.
“I am elated for winning these awards. I have come close a number of times and winning player-of-series is a goal I have always had so I thank my team-mates for helping me achieve it.”
Thirteen other cricketers from the major three leagues also received trophies. Challengers’ Daniel Ruyange claimed Multiple Industries Cricket League Division 2 player-of-series with Damalie Busingye taking the corresponding award in the women’s national league.