It’s Nile Knights v Rwenzori Warriors
So there it is! The East African Elite League that will haul Ugandan and Kenyan cricket into the second decade of the 21st century – and hopefully to an abundant future after the recent lean years.
There will be five teams, three from Kenya and two from Uganda, attracting the cream of players from both Kenya and Uganda.
The Ugandan teams are Nile Warriors, captained by present national captain Davis Arinaitwe Kasharani and coached by national coach Martin Suji, and Rwenzori Warriors, captained by player of the year Lawrence Ssematimba and coached by Henry Okecho.
The Kenyan teams will be a Coastal side from Mombasa, Kongonis (Nairobi) and Rift Valley (Nakuru).
The EA Elite League starts in July and will be played on a home and away basis, with a Twenty20 and 50-over game played every weekend. Lucrative prize money is at stake as an incentive to players to perform well.
Nile Knights: Davis Arinaitwe (capt), Arthur Kyobe, Frank Nsubuga, Almuzahim Saleh, Benjamin Musoke, Deusdedit Muhumuza, Jigar Patel, Daniel Ruyange, Dennis Tabby, Asadu Seiga, Sarfaraz Chunara, Fred Isabirye, Arthur Ziraba, Raymond Otim, Moses Otiti, Timothy Erumuka, Denis Musali, Nicholas Kebba, Abdulhamid Sulieman, Ivan Baidhu, Nehal Bibodi, Ankit Patel. Coach: Martin Suji.
Rwenzori Warriors: Lawrence Ssematimba (capt), Roger Mukasa, Ronald Ssemanda, Ivan Thawithemwire, Simon Ssesazi, Ali Raza, Martin Ondeko, Mohammed Shafeek, Abraham Alema, Narinder Singh, Abdullah Lubega, Brian Masaba, Shehzad Kamal, Henry Ssenyondo, Charles Waiswa, Jonathan Sebanja, Arnold Otwani, Akbar Baig, Irishad Suleiman, Abu Seguya, Ivan Kakande, David Musoke. Coach: Henry Okecho.
The Uganda Cricket Association (UCA) believes the tournament will help expose Ugandan players to more and better competitive cricket with fewer overheads and costs.
The league will follow a formula not unlike that propagated by The Razor in January in an article in its first issue, ‘Provincial league could boost cricket’, which proposed a similar five-franchise set-up, with three teams from Kenya and two from Uganda – but under different names.
The original blueprint had in mind three and four-day matches, with Tanzania supplying a side for one-dayers. But at that time Kenya and Uganda were both riding high in the ‘long’ game; now it is understood that the short game is in as great a need of attention after Kenya’s World Cup blow-out and Uganda’s WCL2 disaster in Dubai.
“We’ve been working hard at this. Let’s hope that it will provide the injection that Ugandan and Kenyan cricket needs,” said a highly placed local source.
At the same time as putting out the Nile and Rwenzori team lists, the UCA announced a 16-player squad for the ICC Africa T20 Division One tournament in Uganda in mid-July: Arthur Kyobe, Davis Arinaitwe (capt), Brian Masaba, Ivan Thawithemwira, Abdullah Lubega, Lawrence Ssematimba, Abu Seguya, Ronald Ssemanda, Deusdedit Muhumuza, Frank Nsubuga, Nehal Bibodi, Jigar Patel, Ali Raza, Shehzad Kamal, Daniel Ruyange, Charles Waiswa, Raymond Otim, Roger Mukasa, Fred Isabirye, Benjamin Musoke, Arthur Ziraba. Coaches: Martin Suji and Henry Okecho.
Teams taking part in the tournament, based on Kampala and Entebbe, will be: South Africa A, Zimbabwe A, Kenya, Uganda, Namibia, Nigeria and Ghana. The top two teams out of Uganda, Namibia, Nigeria and Ghana will qualify for the Global World Cup T20 Qualifiers scheduled to take place in Dubai next year.