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MCC in Uganda: Stuck in the mud

Strength and conditioning - Ugandan style
Strength and conditioning - Ugandan style

Since my first blog of MCC's 2013 tour to Uganda so much has happened on and off the field that maybe only a book of short stories would do the last few days justice, however I'll try my best.

The stand-out moment has to be when our tour bus got stuck on a dirt track out in the Ugandan countryside near Lake Victoria. Our trusty bus driver, who is aptly called Columbus, although on this occasion his navigation skills were slightly off radar, was doing his best to drive the team to a coaching session at a local school in Jinja, a town near Lake Victoria.

However, after the monstrous rain storm that had occurred the previous evening the bus was slip sliding along the dirt track with the full knowledge that if it had to stop, starting would not be easy as traction was next to nothing. A moment later there was a bloke fixing his motorbike slap bang in the middle of the road and before we knew it we had almost capsized.

Everyone bar skipper Arfan Akram and fast bowler Chad Barrett, who was determined not to get his trainers muddy, jumped overboard.

Although technically a rest day the team were soon involved in spot of strength and conditioning, aided by locals and an Australian with a land rover, as they dug the bus out of the ditch and pushed it back onto the road, much to the amusement of some local children who had gathered to watch.

Spreading the message

Once back on the road the touring party headed for Jinja Secondary School where they gave a coaching session to around 200 school children. Met at first with a few quizzical looks, the MCC squad were soon running sessions of quick cricket and giving tips to players on how to catch properly, bowl and bat.

Enthusiasm was there for all to see and it's clear that in Uganda, despite an obvious lack of facilities, cricket is a sport with a bright future.

Cricket coaching in Uganda

Later that afternoon the touring party 'relaxed' with a trip down the Nile to do some white water rafting before being hosted by the sponsor of Ugandan cricket in the evening.

Cricketing fortunes

Cricket-wise the tour has so far proved to be very tough on the field. MCC have drawn one, won one and now lost one, following their defeat to Uganda by just two runs on Friday afternoon at Entebbe Stadium.

The squad, which only numbers twelve players, has been stretched to its limit. A mixture of stomach bugs and the African sun meant that I had to field for a few overs during one game. Luckily for the side the ball only found me twice before I made a hasty exit.

Old pros and Twenty20

Now the tour turn's its attentions to the Twenty20 games at Lugogo Cricket Oval this weekend. Two matches against Uganda and one with Rwanda, who are hopping over the border, will hopefully bring in some crowds to the games.

So far the tour has had mixed crowds, but the fans who have turned up have been passionate and excited by MCC's presence, not least of all Sam Walusimbi.

Walusimbi, who is seen by many as one of the greatest Ugandan crickters having represented the country for East Africa in the 1975 World Cup in England, is determined not to miss a single game of the tour.

For him MCC is a special club and one that he admires having visited Lord's during the 1972 East Africa tour to the country. During the one-day game between MCC and the Emerging Uganda XI at Lugogo on Wednesday - Walusimbi brought three young bowlers to the nets for an impromtu training session with MCC's opening bowlers, Rupert Kitzinger and Barrett.

The opportunity for these players to mix with MCC playing members was something that is relatively rare and an opportunity that Walusimbi made sure they didn't pass up.

Keep up to date with the tour by using #MCCinUganda and following @willroe2 on Twitter.

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