The 2024 men’s T20 World Cup, which will comprise 20 teams for the first time, will include nine Associate teams, the most in any edition of the T20 showpiece event so far. Twelve teams got automatic entry, while the eight remaining slots were filled via the ICC’s regional qualifiers, comprising the top two teams from Africa, Asia, and Europe, along with one team each from the Americas and the East Asia Pacific groups.

In preparation for its maiden T20 World Cup appearance, Uganda’s national team, known as the Cricket Cranes, has embarked on a two-week tour of Sri Lanka. It engaged in friendly matches against Sri Lanka’s Emerging and A teams in Galle and also faced off against the Army in Colombo.

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To bolster its campaign, Uganda’s cricket body hired former Indian First-Class cricketer Abhay Sharma as head coach. With an illustrious coaching background spanning India A, India Under-19s, the Indian women’s cricket team, and the Delhi Ranji Trophy team, Abhay brings extensive experience and aims to impart invaluable knowledge to the budding Ugandan squad.

“The Associate members need more game time, and since they don’t get opportunities to play with the top teams, it’s about handling the pressure and backing your game. That’s most important,” Abhay told Sportstar.

Uganda finished second behind Namibia in the T20 World Cup Africa Region Qualifier and defeated Zimbabwe during its campaign. 

Uganda finished second behind Namibia in the T20 World Cup Africa Region Qualifier and defeated Zimbabwe during its campaign. 
| Photo Credit:


Uganda finished second behind Namibia in the T20 World Cup Africa Region Qualifier and defeated Zimbabwe during its campaign. 
| Photo Credit:

In January this year, the Uganda cricket team went to Saphale in Maharashtra to train at the Omtex ICWC Cricket Institute and played nine practice games.

“Since we could not travel to India now due to the IPL (Indian Premier League) and the UK and Australia were not an option, we decided to tour Sri Lanka, as we are hoping that the wickets in the West Indies could be slightly slower, so practising in these conditions will help the players,” Abhay said.

Uganda finished second behind Namibia in the T20 World Cup Africa Region Qualifier and defeated Zimbabwe during its campaign. The team includes Alpesh Ramjani, from Mumbai, who started playing cricket at Rizvi Springfield School. Ronak Patel and Dinesh Nakrani are other Indian-origin players on the Ugandan team.

“It’s a huge experience and probably the biggest opportunity of a lifetime when you play against the top players you aspire to become like. For us, who wish to play in the best leagues in the world, this is a big chance,” Ramjani said.

The team usually trains in the Ugandan capital city of Kampala, which has a couple of grounds. However, they have never played under lights.

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“That’s why we are planning to organise some games under lights in Sri Lanka and some indoor sessions so that the players get that exposure,” Abhay said. “After the team’s success, the people in Uganda are slowly warming up towards cricket, but the facilities need to improve. The grounds are still not of international standard, and hopefully, the ICC will help us get things better,” he added.

Abhay also believes that with more exposure, the talent pool will also be widened, which eventually will help the team.

“Cricket is now a popular game, after football and rugby. The popularity of cricket has increased among the Ugandan people since our qualification,” Ramjani said, adding, “They are discovering the sport. Like India versus Pakistan, Uganda plays very high-intensity games with Kenya. Qualifying for the T20 World Cup was a dream come true for 48 million people in the country.”

Oman, a formidable force among Associate nations, boasts two T20 World Cup appearances. Led by coach Duleep Mendis, a former Sri Lankan captain, the team now has Aqib Ilyas at the helm.

After reaching the final of the ACC Premier Cup, Oman retained much of its squad for the upcoming ICC event. The team has been diligently training in Muscat and is set to depart for Barbados around May 15, where it plans on playing three to four practice matches against local teams.

By being the first team to arrive in the West Indies, Oman aims to adapt to the conditions before its opening match against Namibia at the Kensington Oval on June 3.

“Our first game is in Barbados, so we will have a pre-tournament tour, and our boys will feature against the national side and the combined universities team there,” Mendis told Sportstar.

“This is the first time that our boys will be playing in the West Indies, so training in Barbados will help them a lot. It will help them get acclimatised to the conditions and surroundings. Barbados has a rich history and culture of cricket, and our boys must be used to that surrounding,” he added.

The team, which performed well in the ACC Premier Cup, boasts a formidable bowling attack led by left-arm yorker specialist Bilal Khan, supported by Kaleemullah and Fayyaz Butt.

Former captain Zeeshan Maqsood remains a key member, having led the team since 2016. The batting relies on Ilyas, Maqsood, Kashyap Prajapati, Naseem Khushi, Pratik Athavale, and Ayaan Khan.

“Fielding is an important aspect of T20 cricket, and if we can save a few runs, it will be good for us. Our strength is batting, and that has been backed up by bowling, but we need to raise our standards in fielding against better sides,” Mendis said, adding, “We have upset a few teams in the past, and who knows, we might repeat that!”

While Oman is set for a Barbados tour, Namibia is currently busy playing intra-squad games at its base in Windhoek and will travel to St. Kitts on May 17 for training and build-up to the tournament. It’s a similar story for Canada, Scotland, and Papua New Guinea, who are training at home and will soon fly to the West Indies with hopes of pulling off a few upsets.