The game of cricket prides itself on being the second most popular sport in the world after football with an estimated fanbase of a 2.5 billion.
Although it’s exact origins remain unknown. It’s existence dates back to the 16th century, with the English shepherds- who used their staff as bats and the wicket gate of the sheep pens as a target for the bowlers- thought to be the first players.
In Uganda, there’s no documentation of who the founders were, but according to former national team player Christopher Luswata who graced the ovals in the 1980s, it’s introduction to the country is associated with the dawn of British colonialism in the 1900s
“It was introduced to Uganda by the British in the 1900s who came to Uganda as colonial administrators, missionaries, teachers and technicians.
“It was also taken up by an alien Asian group that had emerged as an attendant factor in the operation of the British colonial policy.”
Like it is still in other parts of the world, cricket was a popular sport in Uganda back in the day as it was spread across the country. Samuel Walusimbi who remains one of the only two Ugandans to play at a World Cup and who is regarded as Uganda’s greatest Cricketer of all time tells how fertile the land was for the gentleman’s game.
“Cricket was spread all over back then. There were pitches almost in every part of the country. We used to go Masaka, Mbale, Kabale, Gulu, Tororo to play cricket. Kampala alone had pitches all-over. In Lugogo, we had like four. ”
The gentleman’s game commanded a highly competitive atmosphere it is said. That competitiveness is attributed to the kind of competitions held back then, Walusimbi recalls.
“We had what we called the Pentangular. That was competed among the Indians, the moslems, Goans, British and the indigenous people. That was a very tough competition. Then we had the triangular that was competed for by Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya.”
With the leadership of cricket now fully in the hands of the locals, the 1990s saw the birth of some very important tournaments. The Mawanda Cup was among them. It was introduced in memory of Prince George Mawanda who engineered the formation of the first native club in the country, the Africa Cricket Club.
The Luswata Cup was also introduced in memory of cricket addict the late Fred Luswata who served the game in the capacity of chairman at Uganda Cricket Association.
There was also the Munabi Cup which was played in the 90s.
All that though was happening with no women cricket. It was not until the 2000s that the introduction of Women Cricket would be achieved. Despite not playing the game herself, Susan Luswata was very instrumental in introducing women cricket in Uganda.
Schools like Budo, Gayaza, City High, Kololo were the first beneficiaries of girls Cricket.
Women cricket was a huge development in the fraternity and along came more significant changes.
Luswata says one of the biggest changes that have since been witnessed is the finding.
“We now receive money from ICC as Women. It is separate money from that of men. This used not to be the case.”
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