Cricket is a bat-and-ball game played between two opposing teams of eleven players each on a cricket field, at the centre of the field sits a 20-metre rectangular strip with a target at each end called the wicket (a set of three wooden stumps upon which two bails sit).
The first ever international cricket game was staged in Lagos while the nation was yet under colonial rule by the British on the 25th of May 1904, with the Nigerian team playing as representatives of Lagos Colony against the Gold Coast Colony (now Ghana).
Rather than grow to become a huge part of the nation’s everyday activity like football, cricket has been relegated to the background alongside other sports we only often see played in the academic scenes.
A History Lesson
Cricket was introduced to Nigeria by the British in the 19th century, after which the first ever international cricket game was played in Lagos; Lagos Colony Vs Gold Coast Colony, with Gold Coast winning the game by 22 runs.
Soon after, the game becomes an annual event featuring multi-racial participants in its maiden years. In its fourth year, the game recorded a full-on European-Only participation, and in the following year Africa started hers.
Following Nigeria’s independence in 1960, you would think cricket would go with the British, but Nigerians had already found a love for the game, hence matches were staged against other African countries like Sierra Leone and The Gambia from 1964.
Until 1970, cricket was Nigeria’s major sport, but soon after football began finding its way into the hearts of the nation’s elites and with that came a decline in cricket; both in organization and interest in the game.
Still, Nigeria was considered a nation given to the game of cricket – taking most positions in the West African cricket team that took part in the ICC Trophy Tournaments in 1982 and 1997.
Even after the West African Cricket Conference ceased to exist in 2002, Nigeria became an ICC associate member in the same year and featured in the 2002 Africa Cup in Zambia- finishing fourth in the group after a win against Malawi.
Two years later, the Nigerian team finished 5th in the Africa Cricket Association Championships with a single win in the tournament against last placed Tanzania, thus failing to qualify for the 2005 ICC Trophy.
- 1975: Not eligible – Not an ICC member
- 1979 to 2003: See West African cricket team
- 2007: Did not qualify
- 1979 to 2001: See West Africa cricket team
- 2005: Did not qualify
ICC World Cricket League global
- 2009: 3rd place (Division Seven)
- 2011: 2nd place (Division Seven)
- 2011: 5th place (Division Six)
- 2013: 1st place (Division Seven)
- 2013: 2nd place (Division Six)
- 2014: 4th place (Division Five)
ICC World Cricket League Africa Region
- 2006: 5th place (Division Two)
- 2011: 1st place (Division Two)(T20)
Over the years, time has proven beyond doubt that there’s nothing which brings Nigerians closer together than sports. For a country with a vast number of ethnic groups and religions, sports is the only ground that brings a sense of oneness to the hearts of Nigerians.
Shouldn’t this be a call to grow our sports, hone talented athletes and allow them flourish?