Cricket presents platform for regional integration, says Akpata
Nigeria Cricket Federation (NCF) President, Uyi Akpata, believes the recent bilateral match between Nigeria and Sierra Leone held in Lagos has deeper import than the activities on the cricket pitch.
While addressing guests at the closing round of the six match bilateral series, which Nigeria won 5-1 at the University of Lagos Cricket Oval, Akpata said, currently, Nigeria’s is the best ranked team on the West and North Africa region of the continent and it will not augur well if their neighbours are lagging behind.
“This series, apart from helping the two teams shape up for the forthcoming International Cricket Council’s Africa’s T20 Qualifier later in the Year, also offers grounds for both bodies to impact on each other’s growth,” he said.
Nigeria is already through to the finals of the qualifying series in Rwanda, while Sierra Leone will need to pick a slot for the final round from a pre-event scheduled to start from November 2, 2021 in Kigali.
Nigeria, has among other things, agreed to help the Sierra Leone Cricket Association to raise the standard of their playing turf to the current turf wicket being played in Nigeria, as well as donate developmental kits to them.
Akpata noted that having good competitive neighbours gives the country and the region a good cricket development atmosphere and forces the home team to maintain some standards.
It also helps to get easy pairing partners for shape up matches, among other things.
“Ghana and Sierra Leone have kept Nigeria on her toes in the region and it would be nice to have them match up to our level for the growth of the game in the region,” he added.
At the closing match of the Bilateral Series at the Unilag Cricket Oval, Nigeria outwitted their visitors with a 36 runs victory in 20 overs to lift the overall trophy after six matches.
Nigeria’s Peter Aho, who, in the fifth match, registered the best bowling figures of an innings with six wickets, five runs, one maiden in 3.4 overs, was again adjudged the Player of the Match in the sixth match and Best Bowler of the tournament with a trophy and $200.
At the close of the tournament, Nigeria’s former U-19 captain, Sylvester Okpe, emerged most valuable player of the series with a trophy and $300.
The Nigerian team would depart for a training tour of Zimbabwe from where they would proceed to the African T20 qualifier that starts on November 17, 2021 in Kigali, Rwanda.