On a bright morning at the main cricket oval in Kampala, the new head coach is putting the members of the Ugandan national men's team through their paces. Clad in their vivid red kit, the Cricket Cranes are gearing up for their inaugural Twenty20 World Cup, a momentous occasion in a nation where cricket takes a backseat to football. However, they face a challenging tournament jointly hosted by the United States and West Indies and spanning from June 2 to June 29. Their opponents include New Zealand, West Indies, Afghanistan, and Papua New Guinea, with matches set in Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago. Time is of the essence, given that the Uganda Cricket Association appointed Indian former first-class cricketer Abhay Sharma as the new head coach just a month ago.

Speaking after a rain-interrupted training session, 32-year-old Cranes captain Brian Masaba expressed the need for high-intensity preparations, acknowledging the limited time available. Despite this being Uganda's debut at the World Cup, the team has a notable history as part of a combined East Africa team in the 1975 ODI World Cup. Cricket's roots in the region date back to the late 19th century when it gained popularity among the Indian laborers brought in to work on East African railways.

The team's appearance at the World Cup holds significant promise, not only for Ugandan cricket but also for the aspirations of individual players like 21-year-old Juma Miyagi, who emphasized the importance of this opportunity in furthering his international career. Miyagi's personal journey from growing up in the Naguru slum to representing his country exemplifies the transformative power of sports.

For veteran cricketer Frank Nsubuga, who first played internationally in the 1997 ICC Trophy, qualifying for the World Cup is the realization of a lifelong dream. As one of the oldest players in the tournament, Nsubuga serves as a mentor within the squad, bringing invaluable experience to the team. Meanwhile, Coach Sharma draws on his extensive global experience to prepare the team for the upcoming matches, emphasizing the importance of skill development and the right mindset.

As ambassadors of the game, the team recognizes the significance of representing Uganda on the world stage. Their participation in the World Cup not only holds the potential for sporting triumphs but also serves as a beacon of hope, inspiring youngsters like Miyagi to envision a brighter future through cricket.