Cricket is one of the most extensively played sports all across the world. It is also one of the most beloved team sports, with millions of dedicated fans in almost every country. With hundreds of leagues and tournaments played all around the globe every year, it is evident that cricket is an essential part of culture and tradition in more than half the world. Nigeria is one of the most popular countries that has been extensively participating in the sport for over a century. Nigerian cricket plays a big role in influencing the ICC world cup betting rates as well. This West African country has a rich cricket heritage; after all these years, the legacy continues. Cricket is one of the primary sports in Nigeria. The spirit of sportsmanship has been thoroughly nurtured, transitioning from generation to generation.
Cricket In Nigeria. Early Years
Since the British introduced cricket to Nigeria in the 19th century, the country has made it part and parcel of its life and culture. The first international was played in 1904 between two national teams representing the Lagos colony and the Gold Coast colony. The match was played at Race Course on the 25th of May, 1904 and ended with Gold Coast winning by a mere 22 runs. It marked the beginning of cricket as a tradition in Nigeria. The match became a fixed event, organized yearly, and the games were multi-racial for the first three years. The installation in 1906 was fully European. However, in 1907, the Africans started their fixture not much later. This tradition was interrupted abruptly by the first world war and was not resumed until the mid-1920s.
In between the world wars, when the entire world was drowned in a state of economic, social and political chaos, Nigerian cricket was entering the golden era. Cricket started to become a big part of life in the African county. Frequent matches began to be organized with participation from both the European and the African communities. For the first time, cricket associations were being formed in Nigeria. The European Cricket Association was formed in 1932, and the African Association in 1933. The Nigerian cricket atmosphere became so engrossing that even world-class players from England started to make regular appearances at the annual international games in the country. Before World War 2 began, the last game was played in 1939, which ended in a glorious win for the Gold Coast by a margin of 58 runs.
Although the Second World War marked a hiatus for cricket in Nigeria, the craze for the sport never dimmed even a little. With the war dying in 1947, Nigerian Cricket made a memorable comeback with a 5-day match played in Lagos that resulted in a draw. Another game was played in 1949, which favoured Gold Coast again. After that, as the number of European workers slowly diminished from Nigeria, the quality and skills of Nigerian cricketers began to climb up the ladder. By 1956, multi-racial matches started to become the norm in Nigerian cricket. As 1960 marked the independence of Nigeria, it also marked the beginning of a new era of cricket in the West African land. The interest grew among locals, and regular matches started to be organized. The annual cricket matches against Sierra Leone and The Gambia began to be organized in 1964 and were a regular event until the 1970s. At that point, the country started to take a strong inclination toward football. It created a thorough decline in the quality of Nigerian Cricket. The outcome was properly visible when Tanzania began touring in 1974, and out of the three matches played, Nigeria lost two and the third one ended in a draw. In 1976, Nigeria also faced heavy losses with the MCC. This deterioration in Nigerian cricket resulted from internal conflicts in the Nigerian Cricket Association and the problems brewing in the country itself. Even with these declining standards, Nigeria still formed the majority of the West African Cricket team, becoming an ICC associate member in 1976.
The West African Cricket team played some important matches afterwards, including the ICC trophy tournaments in 1982 and 1997. They withdrew from the 2001 tournament that took place in Ontario. Nigerian Cricket vigour did not completely die down. They still played several matches on their occasions. However, they bowed out of some important tournaments like the Africa Cricket Association Championship held in 1998. The West African Cricket Conference came to an end in 2002, which led to Nigeria becoming an associate member of the ICC on its own.
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Nigeria National Cricket Team
Starting from its first international match played in 1904, the Nigerian National Cricket Team has also played with its neighbour Ghana on several occasions. 1959 marked a historical year in Nigerian cricket as Rex Akpofure became the first Nigerian to ever play captain to a joint Nigerian National Team (both locals and expatriates) against Ghana in a series of matches. Before this series, a commemorative game was played between Nigeria and Ghana to celebrate the golden jubilee anniversary of international cricket relations between the two nations. In this match, Eddy Hughes offered captaincy to the Nigeria cricket team. Another milestone in Nigerian cricket occurred when the WACC was formed in 1965. A quadrangular tournament started in 1976 featuring Ghana, Nigeria, Gambia and Sierra Leone, which Nigeria successfully hosted. The WACC quadrangular tournaments from 1976-1997 were a golden era for Nigeria as they gloriously won the first ten editions. In 1973, the Nigerian National Cricket Team set out on a tour of East Africa. They played matches with Kenya, Uganda, and Zambia. It was not a very successful tour for the team as they won two international games, lost two more and ended up drawing the other six matches. Although the Nigerian team successfully won all the friendly matches. In 1974, Tanzania took a return tour to Nigeria, in which Nigeria again suffered heavy losses. In the 1950s and 60s, Nigeria’s earliest exposure to UK cricket was organized by Unilever. Colonial civil servants, company staff on vacation, Nigerian students and summer visitors in the UK contributed a lot to making this event successful.
Further onwards, the NCA began sending players on training tours to the UK in 1975, 1981 and 1990. Players primarily trained at the Alf Gover Cricket School and Lord’s during their stay. They also participated in quite a few friendly matches. The MCC visited Nigeria thrice in 1976, 1994 and 2004. The first time around, MCC won all its games; however, on their second attempt, they tasted their first defeat in West Africa against an inspired Nigerian Team. This match took place on the 19th of January, where they lost by three wickets in the first of a two-match series. In recent events, Nigeria has been pretty active in international cricket. The West African country has participated in the ICC Qualifying tournaments and the ICC World Cricket League series.
Current Situation in Nigerian Cricket
Some pretty big headlines have been made recently in Nigeria. The West African Country might not be at its peak of success in international cricket as of now, but that doesn’t stop them from achieving milestones along the way. In the latest news, Nigeria finished at a glorious 5th position at the Kwibuka Women’s Cricket Tournament in Rwanda. The Nigeria Women’s senior cricket team defeated Brazil twice in one week and confirmed the fifth position for themselves at the just concluded tournament in Kwibuka. They started the game with three consecutive wins against Brazil, Germany and Botswana. Following which there were some losses as well. Another huge milestone has been crossed recently as NCF won ICC’s Good Social Impact Initiative. The title brought home a lot of pride and recognition for the West African country on an international level. The NCF had decided to use cricket to assist the development of internally displaced refugees in the country. This refugee problem resulted from the chaos and insurgency inflicted by the extremist group Boko Haram in Nigeria. ICC recognized this incredible effort and rewarded Nigeria with the title of Cricket For Good Social Impact Initiative. Nigeria saw some big wins when coming to the Nigerian men’s cricket team, playing against Sierra Leone in a series of T20 matches in 2021. The Nigerian team grossed a total of 124 at the University of Lagos in the first innings of the third game in the series. They left the visiting team with a mere 53 runs all out. In a post-match interview, Nigerian captain Joshua Ayannaike admitted winning the match was solely dependent on their bowling and that there was still plenty of room for improvement in the batting department. However, Nigeria did take home the title in this 6-match T-20 bilateral series against Sierra Leone. The current cricket situation in Nigeria has affected the ICC world cup betting rates quite a bit. One of the most significant developments in Nigerian cricket is the Nigeria Cricket Federation’s decision to redeploy/appoint new coaches to the country’s national teams, both male and female. Following Asanka Gurusinha’s resignation, the Federation reshuffled its coaching team, hiring all-around indigenous coaches to fill various positions. The appointment of the National Under-19 coaches, which includes former National Women’s Team Manager Obo Omoigui as head coach and Daniel Gim as an assistant, is the most prominent engagement. Uthe Ogbimi is back as Senior Men’s Coach, with Tamuno John Harry as his assistant, while Leke Oyede is back as Senior Women’s Team Coach, with Ibodeme Theophilus as his assistant.
ICC World Cup
Ever since the West African Cricket Conference ended and Nigeria became an Associate Member of the ICC, there has been a rich history of international cricket for the West African Country. The first tournament as an ICC member was the 2002 Africa Cup in Zambia. Nigeria finished 4th in their group after winning only a match against Malawi. They also finished in the 5th position in the Africa Cricket Association Championships in 2004, with only one win against Tanzania. Resultantly they failed to qualify for the 2005 ICC Trophy. Nigeria played in Division Two of the World Cricket League Africa Region in 2008 and finished second place, qualifying for the 2009 ICC World Cricket League Division Seven. Nigeria brought home the title of the North-West Africa Championship in 2007 and 2008. Nigeria also participated in the May 2011 ICC World Cricket League Division seven in Botswana. In 1975 Nigeria could not participate in the ICC Cricket World Cup as they were not an associate member yet. However, from 1979 to 2003, Nigeria has been a regular part of the World Cup. Again in 2007, the West African country didn’t qualify for the Cup.
Among all the other African countries, small or big, participating in cricket on an international level, Nigeria has been one of the most prominent. The Nigerian Cricket Team features several prolific, talented, hard-working players ready to fight for their ground. Started in the era of colonialism, cricket hasn’t left the Nigerian bloodline. Instead, it has become one of the most prominent sports in West Africa. With many national and international wins, Nigeria has yet to gain more international cricket experience. Nigerian cricket is improving every day. With the NCF taking strong steps forward with creative and efficient means of upgrading the quality of cricket in the country, Nigeria is bound to become one of the capital ICC Associates shortly.
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