Bravo! Bravo! Many a cricket fan chanted upon receipt of news that the left handed; sometimes batsman and most times erratic fielder (according to critics) for the Cricket Cranes hadn’t made the contingent for the Qatar and India tours. Now, there was a time when this news would have been received with lethal doses of animosity. But the phrase “how quickly tables turn” was coined with situations like this in mind. Kyobe came under strong criticism after a dismal performance at the 2017 ICC DIV 3 World Cricket League that was hosted in Kampala Uganda.
Today, Kyobe’s drop is quickly ignored like a slay queen’s assassination of the dear queen’s language.
In fact, it can be said that in fanatical pockets of ardent local cricketers and fans, quietly albeit with spates of insidious laughter, cows were slaughtered and rounds of frothy substances shot. Finally, Uganda cricket had a genuine reason to celebrate. This wouldn’t be the first time a curious toast is made. In more Christian pockets and perhaps those less eager to dance on another man’s grave, the mood is similar. Joy and merry making still, albeit with more tacit. This to an outsider would be equal to the famous speaking in tongues that is alien to most. Although done differently, they too celebrate; nothing too dramatic, a lit candle here, a thank-you prayer to the man upstairs there and the matter is buried. But in all the drama, the real casualty was the reason for his drop.
Before we proceed, lets pause and take a trip down memory lane.
Born 1988 in Jinja, Arthur Kyobe Solomon, the now embattled batsman rose to the ranks with bespoke strokes of the bat, an ample sledging mouth and a dodgy fielding acumen. It has been the estimation of many that indeed, the batsman’s best days that age as far back as the school’s Cricket weeks of the early 2000s, are far long behind him. Those who agree with this prognosis will speak profoundly and with admiration of the days Kyobe made a light meal of archrivals Busoga College Mwiri bowlers, sending them to the ropes by land and by air. And boy was he fancy about it! Today, he’s not shy to re-echo these memories in light banter. Names like Hamza Saleh, Roger Mukasa, Emmanuel Nakana, Mouneek Solanki and talent alike will come hot on the heels of a splendid ululation for Kyobe’s plunders in the crease.
His star rose from a little known explosive Jinja based batsman to a national treasure. The writing was on the wall. Kyobe would be a Cricket Crane, sooner than later. Destiny chose sooner. In 2006 he was on the U-19 team that played the World Cup in Sri Lanka. On this team, he shared the crease with Cricket Cranes captain Davis Karashani and newbie Roger Mukasa under the captaincy of Hamza Saleh. It was on and upward from that point. Tours came thick hard and each came with its complications. Dubai in January 2007, Windhoek in November 2007, Windhoek in September 2010, Abu Dhabi in November 2013, Windhoek in 2015 and Kampala as recently as 2017.
At age 30, Kyobe is expected to be in the prime of his cricket career. “With all that experience, we expected more,” a sports show host was quoted saying. Only managing to score 2, 20, 0 & 15 (in this particular order) in the last tournament donning national kit, his performance in the ICC DIV 3 World Cricket League was if anything, symptomatic of a player in the evening of his career. Although Kyobe and other players shouldered the blame, there were signs that the likes of Oman and Canada had come to the tournament with a better game plan. And it would only take the prolific touch of Zeus himself for Uganda to salvage pride.
The Cricket Cranes finished 5 in the tournament, which meant sudden death and a relegation to Division 4.
It was back to the drawing board for Steven Tikolo and his ward. Practice session after practice session. Trial game after trial game. Strategy meeting after strategy meeting, until a team was selected.
News of Kyobe’s drop spread like bad air in a windowless room. It stunk and stung. And when a peephole was cracked, it only let in curiosity. How come the batsman with the 2nd highest score in the T20 league was being left behind? To add insult to query, Kyobe had also top scored with 93 runs in the final games building into the Qatar and India tours. The Question was “Why?”
In hindsight, it is clear that the batsman’s woes are recent. Dating only as far back as September 2016. Before which half centuries against neighbors Kenya and Qatar simply spelled his ability to decimate bowlers.
Whereas the left hander’s career seemed to hit invisible speeds bumps one after the other, his former opening mate, Roger Mukasa is soaring in his new role as Captain of the Cricket Cranes.
At a time when Kyobe’s head should be crestfallen and his wits mangled by envy and anger, he’s a beacon of optimism. A supporter of Cricket Cranes and a player hungry for Cricket as and when the chance avails its self.
Kyobe has made peace with being dropped, “It’s always a decision to be made, but not by me! My Job is to play cricket,” the left hander bellowed amidst laughter.
Even though he’s not on the team Kyobe is rooting for the Cricket Cranes, “I am okay with what happened and I have confidence in the team that’s on tour,” Kyobe hissed on.
If you’re familiar with Kyobe’s work ethic, you’ve probably run into him along side his partner in disfiguring cricket balls - Ham Kayondo, going about their batting drills.
Kyobe is training on with team mates Derrick Bakunzi, Jonathan Ssebanja and 2 others.
“I can’t quit now,” the left hander told Cricket Uganda. “I will take every chance that comes my way.”