Uganda Under 19 Captain Pascal Murungi and three other players have been handed their Senior debut ahead of the Africa T20 Cup Challenge slated September 15-21 in Benoni, South Africa.
Munir Ismail and Joseph Baguma are also included and were also part of the U-19 team that took part in the World Cup in West Indies.
The other debutant is Alpesh Ramjani who has been summoned to the team after impressing at his club Damani.
Murungi, an 18-year-old all-rounder captained the Baby Cricket Cranes in January this year at the World Cup in the West Indies, and the team finished 13th after winning against Scotland and Papua New Guinea in the classification matches.
He remarks that the senior team call is not only a motivation to him but also a sign that his hard work has been noticed and appreciated.
All eyes will be on the young lad as he is expected to emulate teammate Juma Miyagi who also graduated this year to the Senior team, and impressed.
“I have been waiting for the call and I think it just came at the right time,” Murungi stated.
“I am motivated to work even harder. I drew a lot of experience with the U19s at the World Cup in the West Indies where I was one of the best performers in the associate countries.”
“We didn’t win at the World Cup but we had a lot to learn and It was a great experience for us.”
Murungi says he is not under any pressure to impress since he has been preparing for this moment under the wings of teammates Frank Nsubuga and the senior team captain Brian Masaba who he looks up to.
The other three players on debut will be U-19 assistant Captain Munir Ismail, Aziz Damani’s Centurion Alpesh Ramjani whose call has been long overdue, and Joseph Baguma. And just like Pascal, 17-year-old Baguma seems not to be intimidated playing with the big boys.
The Cricket Cranes have been in camp for more than a month in preparation for the Africa Cup in South Africa and the T20 world cup qualifier in March next year.
Captain Brian Masaba Back
The team will be skippered by Brian Masaba who returns from a finger injury he sustained in Zimbabwe, missing out on a couple of tournaments including the Challenge League B final round in Jersey
Masaba says the addition of the U19 players to the squad should not be seen as a threat to the Senior players but rather as an effort by the team to build squad depth ahead of future tournaments.
“It is important for us to have a look at the players we have and allow the youngsters to put their hands up and take their claim for a place in the team as we prepare for the world cup qualifier next year,” said Masaba.
“We are only building a squad depth since we have several tournaments coming up so we are trying to have a look at all the players we have as we also keep an eye on the future.
“If the boys start playing now, they will be ready for the big games. But it’s exciting because it creates competition in the team which helps to boost performance and is not a scare to the Senior players. We can’t wait to see what the boys will offer.”
Uganda is alongside Botswana, Ghana, and Mozambique in Group A. The top two sides in each group will move into the semi-finals before the final. Group B has Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, and Cameron.
The tournament carries international rankings, so much will be at stake.
In their most recent outings, the Cranes finished fifth at the T20 Cricket World Cup Qualifier in Zimbabwe last month and second in the challenge League B after an impressive run.
The Cricket Cranes Contingent:
Brian Masaba (Captain), Deus Muhumuza, Frank Nsubuga, Kenneth Waiswa, Cosmas Kyewuta, Juma Miyagi, Alpesh Ramjani, Joseph Baguma, Pascal Murungi, Munir Ismail, Fred Achellam, Henry Ssenyondo, Riazat Ali Shah, Simon Sessazi
Laurence Mahatlane(Head Coach), Jackson Ogwang (Assistant Coach), Shamim Nassali (Physiotherapist), Steven Tusiime (Analyst), Jackson Kavuma (Team Manager)