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Nigeria cricket and the boom for 2022

Nigeria cricket and the boom for 2022
January 18
15:18 2022

It was unanimously agreed last year that Nigeria stood a 50-50 chance of picking an ICC T20 Cricket World Cup ticket at the African qualifiers in Kigali, Rwanda in November, no thanks to being behind its group opponents Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania. After all, in the world ranking, Nigeria on 38th trailed Uganda (27th), Kenya (29th), and Tanzania (37th). Nonetheless, the Yellow-Greens, as the team is known, stood a brighter chance of picking the ticket based on the players’ current form as well as the motivation from the comprehensive 5-1 defeat they handed to Sierra Leone at the Bilateral Series held in Lagos prior to the Kigali qualifiers.

Without any doubt, however, the Yellow-Greens have evolved since December 2020, thanks largely to the coaching prowess of Sri Lankan Asanka Gurusinha who took charge of the team at the time it needed positive direction, immediately leading to long camping before competitions. Gurusinha had no issues with the bowling aspect of the cricketers, Nigeria has been a renowned bowling nation. So, he settled for working on the batting aspect through which he has achieved commendable results to bolster the players’ confidence for competitions which he reckoned were needed to get the team ready for challenges. There was improvement at the Uganda series that preceded the Lagos series. But the future began to unfold at the Lagos series as the Kigali qualifiers loomed.

In the end, the Kigali event was a fiasco for Nigeria, a reality not lost on the Sri Lankan who battled with the fact that his team was dominated by youngsters that participated at the U-19 World Cup in 2019, save for only a sprinkle of experienced players from the old order.

Uyi Akpata, President of Nigeria Cricket Federation, had a grip on the fiasco and he was unequivocal that the Yellow-Greens had not been exposed enough prior to the qualifiers, and little wonder it lost all the six games despite the players’ best effort. Akpata was quick to declare that his administration would ensure that the players compete with top African countries with a view to harnessing the best talent on offer. He made no excuse for the fiasco; all he desired was a positive movement forward.

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Perhaps, it is in furtherance of Akpata’s desire that 30 young players were discovered at the National Youth Games held in November in Ilorin and an intensive camping programme has been drawn for them by Gurusinha as part of the cricket federation’s development plan.

Already, Under-17 cricket is up and running in the six zones of the country, with scouts fishing for more talent and with the ultimate aim of turning Nigeria literally into a pool of cricketers in the next couple of years. Nigeria’s biggest cricket league, the Club Cricket Committee League, is also up and running to the admiration of fans and enthusiasts. It is an undeniable fact that cricket in Nigeria is witnessing a New Dawn.

Further proof of the 2022 boom was unveiled on Sunday in Lagos as the revamped TBS Cricket Oval was commissioned. Regarded as the traditional home of Nigerian cricket, the TBS oval had not witnessed action for 18 months as the playing surface had to be upgraded from concrete to grass. The field holds fond memories of Nigeria’s cricket exploits for many years and not a few now believe its upgrade is as timely as it is promising for the development of the sport in the country. It holds an even bigger promise that all games in the elite division will be played on the grass wickets.

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