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How Ugandan cricket players lost money

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Last December, Uganda’s opening bowler Charles Waiswa helped The Cricket Cranes win their first Cricket World Cup Challenge League (CWCCL) tie against Jersey in Oman when he took one of the 10 Jersey wickets.

After Uganda batted first, and posted 248 runs for the loss of eight wickets, Waiswa helped the cricket Cranes defend their innings lead. In the 36 balls he bowled, Jersey only managed to score 23 runs, and overall, only scored 223 runs all out.

Uganda’s opening display put them on course to winning the first round of their CWCCL group B, which also included Kenya, Bermuda, Hong Kong and Italy. The second round of this round-robin tournament was due to be hosted by Uganda between August 3 and 13.

However, because of the travel restrictions, following the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) outbreak, the International Cricket Council (ICC) has put the tournament on hold until further notice. This has left Waiswa ruing, not only for the opportunity lost to push for 2023 World Cup, which would have been brightened by home advantage, but also the economic impact it is having on them as players.

Waiswa told The Observer that the coronavirus has made him miss the game so much. He last played competitive cricket for his club Aziz Damani in January. So six months without activity is depressingly long. Yet, that has also disturbed his earnings as a person.

“While my club has been so faithful to me, and I must be thankful, to keep paying my wages even in this time, where there is no activity, as a person, I have also made that extra buck from elsewhere,” Waiswa said. Preferring to remain unspecific, Waiswa said he expected 2020 to be a rosy year for him on the cricket front, because of the cricket tournaments he had been penciled in for.

BIG BONUSES

Cricket gigs in Singapore, Qatar, and Cape Town were on the grapevine. In these tournaments, which normally run for two weeks, a player is paid at least $100 (Shs 370,000) per day. Yet, if they had all taken place, he could have made a good return of at least Shs 20m. “For me, as a person involved in farming, this would have been a huge boost to my investment,” Waiswa said.

The Cricket Cranes team manager Jackson Kavuma disclosed that when the team was in Oman last year, every player earned at least $80 (Shs 296,000) as per diem from the Uganda Cricket Association (UCA). The team was there 16 days, which amounted to $1,280 (Shs 4.7m) from the CWCCL.

On top of that, each player received $500 (Shs 1.8m) from the UCA as bonus for their achievement. Therefore, with the second leg scheduled to be hosted here, the players would smile all the way to the bank, as per Ugandan standards.

It goes without saying that the UCA also stood to benefit for hosting the CWCCL. The ICC offers member associations money for hosting international tournaments, and Uganda would have received about $100,000, approximately Shs 400 million, to prepare the grounds, among other things.

For what it is worth, the Cricket Cranes players’ contracts with the UCA, normally agreed on at the beginning of the year, have also been reviewed under the circumstances.

Martin Ondeko, the UCA chief executive officer, said because the players are not training currently, the association could not maintain the same pay they were receiving when they were active.

Instead, they now give them a small stipend to keep afloat. While Ondeko could not reveal how much that was, The Observer learnt that each player received a sum of Shs 250,000 a week. Now, they are receiving Shs 300,000 a month at least to buy food. That is a big setback for Waiswa surely.

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