Wow what a day!

It is to be expected in Africa to ‘take life as it comes’ but what started as a ‘teacher education day’ turned into the most enjoyable day of the tour. Being a Sunday we should have known better but yes we had the 20 teachers that we expected but we also had in the region of 120 to 130 children that we did not expect who were making the most of their day off.

To see these kids turn up and see the response from our volunteers who were ‘called to arms’ was magnificent and entertaining them for four hours was truly a great effort


I worked with Richard and Neil to do the teacher education and we also had a fantastic time, one particular warm up drill from Neil led to the fairly hilarious scene between me a lovely teacher called Agnes taking it in turns chasing each other trying to catch the ball. No doubt you will see this in Phil’s video.

Children (and teachers) are very polite and keen to learn which makes it all the more enjoyable, while their skills and natural athleticism put many of us to shame.

The venue, Klilembe, was up in the mountains from Kasese and was stunning, perhaps only blotted by the cable car that strode even further up into the hills to service the Cobalt mine.


To maintain the rural feel we even had a guest fielder as a rather large ‘Ankole’ cattle mooched onto the outfield and you don’t mess with them and their enormous horns!


Lunch on the way home at the slightly more luxurious Margherita Hotel high in the hills at Kasese (certainly more luxurious than our hotel in town) rounded off the day beautifully and for the first time on tour we had food which looked as it did in the menu!  That is not to say the food has been bad but it does not always match up to the pictures on the menu!


On reflection of the first week it is fair to say that the pre-trip opinion of the ‘snarled old cricket pro’ has changed from “it’s just a tour to do some coaching'” to one of “wow how much more can we do for these people”.  I have also marvelled at the journey of my fellow volunteers, some of which had none or very little cricket coaching experience to now being confronted with hundreds of little Ugandan children all thirsty for knowledge . None of the children have gone home unhappy or unfulfilled and that is to the great credit of everyone, it is a fairly humbling experience.


A day off sick with a bit of “Masake belly”  (details of which you don’t want to know) early in the week has not spoiled the fun and I must thank my wonderful nurse in the shape of my room mate Ken Kirk who was magnificent.


I have been lucky to travel the world to play cricket but the overriding feeling I have had here is how friendly the people are. Whilst in Masaka we walked home from a days coaching through the market and you would expect to be hassled from locals desperate for you to buy their produce but there was none of that.  They are very respectful even laid back and it made you feel very comfortable.


All the sessions have been expertly run by Richard Davies and the team, culminating in the tournament where all the schools have the chance to compete against each other in a Kwik Cricket Festival run with military precision by Richard. It was a hugely competitive affair with much cheering and celebrating by the winning teams, although it was difficult at times to work out who was the most competitive the kids or the teachers.


The winning team of Hill Road Primary School were awarded CWB t-shirts whilst all of the other teams received either other donated t-shirts or bags of balls. It is fair to say that the balls were the most sought after.



One interesting part of the week was being asked to take part in a local radio show to discuss cricket and the tour. I have done a few radio shows but none like this one. Radio Buddu’s studio was a box sized room – certainly no cat swinging, with walls of red imitation leather that looked like they had been stolen from some cheap arm chairs. The sound engineer joined us in the room too, his mobile phone rang twice during the show and he spent the rest of the time on Facebook it was a very strange affair.


The opening line of the presenter asked me about my career and I told him the facts, 20,000 first class runs 46 hundreds and jokingly 29 first class wickets.  I was a little amused to see him pick up on the 29 wickets and make it a highlight – maybe he was having a laugh at me but I don’t think so. Our guide from the  Masaka Cricket Network Robert Sundia joined us in the interview and following my piece he spoke for twenty mins in the local lingo which made it all a very surreal experience.



I do hope we can help this area – they currently have no cricket ground in Masake so our visit to St Henry’s College to investigate using its playing fields for cricket, I hope will be the beginning of making it a centre for the game.


After meeting Brother Augustine, the headmaster of the college, and gaining his “blessing” for a cricket ground we discussed the installation and positioning of a concrete strip which we hope they can install themselves.  Between Phil and I we hope to see if we can find a way of obtaining either sponsorship or persuading an organisation to donate an artificial cricket mat to go onto the concrete. Without this cricket will not flourish as these children need a pathway out into the game which I believe is presently not available.


It has been 6 years since the MCC have toured Uganda and In my role with the MCC I will lobby to see if a repeat visit may be possible.  Maybe even visiting a new venue in Masake. I t would be a lovely thought!


One week down. There is lots to do, but it will be great fun doing it I am sure.