Uganda Captain Masaba hails T20 World Cup qualification
WINDHOEK, Namibia (CMC) — Uganda Captain Brian Masaba described qualifying for the 2024 ICC Men’s Twenty20 International (T20I) World Cup as an immensely emotional moment for the team.
The Ugandans formalised their place in the line-up of 20 teams on Thursday when they romped to a comprehensive nine-wicket win against Rwanda in the final round of matches in the Africa qualifiers for the tournament in Namibia.
Chasing a modest 66 to win, the Cricket Cranes, as they are known, reached their target with 71 balls remaining at Wanderers Cricket Ground in the Namibian capital for their fifth win in their six matches in the qualifying tournament.
This will be the first appearance in a senior ICC World Cup for Uganda, and they join the Namibians from the Africa qualifying tournament in booking their place to the World Cup which will feature the largest number of teams in its history.
“It’s pretty surreal,” Masaba said. “I can’t put words to the emotions we are feeling now as a team. It’s massive for Ugandan cricket and huge for African cricket.
“A lot of work has gone on behind the scenes to get us where we are. It has been years of toil and hard work, four or five years of sacrifice. The fans joining in the celebrations were special.”
Before the historic victory Uganda had wins from four of their previous five matches in the seven-team qualifying tournament, beating Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Nigeria and Kenya, only slipping against co-qualifiers Namibia who played unbeaten.
“We are all very excited as a group,” Masaba added. “Everyone is pumped up about the achievement; it’s a first for Uganda. We came into this tournament trying to seal a World Cup slot [and] we firmly believed that it was possible. We had put in a lot of work.”
Apart from joint hosts West Indies and the United States, the other teams that will be appearing in the event to be staged from June 4 to 20 in the Caribbean and the United States are Afghanistan, Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, England, India, Ireland, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Oman, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Scotland, South Africa, Sri Lanka, and the Ugandans.
Masaba, who has played 53 T20Is to date, said the players hope their participation in the T20I World Cup will spur an increase of participation in the sport in the country, recognising the persistent hard work put in behind the scenes over the past five years by the group of students and mostly semi-professionals who earn between US$200-$500 monthly.
“This opens a lot of doors for cricket back home,” he said. “It’s going to popularise the sport in the country. Hopefully, some players can get T20 and T10 gigs. It puts Ugandan cricket on the map.
“It’s a dream come true for the players. Just sharing a field with guys we have seen playing on TV… hopefully we can interact and learn from the best.”
Six Caribbean territories — Antigua, Barbados, Guyana, St Lucia, St Vincent, and Trinidad — following the withdrawal of Dominica on Thursday, are now down to host matches in the T20I World Cup.
The American cities of Dallas, Fort Lauderdale, and East Meadow will host matches in the United States.