Friday, January 27, 2023

CSA: Exciting times for Cricket in Africa

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  • Cricket to be included in African Games for the first time at Ghana 2023
  • African players put up excellent showing at FairBreak International in Dubai
  • CSA hosts successful capacity building for Associates in Africa
  • Africa regional qualifiers kick off in Botswana with the U19 Women’s T20 World Cup Africa Qualifier in September

These are exciting times for cricket in Africa. The game’s first-ever inclusion at the Africa Games, to be hosted in Ghana in 2023, has created a new wave of enthusiasm as teams across the continent look ahead to chasing regional glory. Eight women’s teams, and as many men’s teams, will compete in two groups of four, before the action moves into the knockout stages. Plans are already well underway to develop the facilities at Achimota, ahead of next year’s event.

The two powerhouses from the southernmost tip of Africa, South Africa and Zimbabwe, have also entered the race to be crowned African champions. “This wonderful game brings so many good people together, and the Africa Games will be no different,” ICC Africa’s Patricia Kambarami enthused.

“Already, the PWC from Nigeria has come on board to assist the Ghana Cricket Association with the construction of the oval and surrounding facilities. Everyone is pulling together to make sure that cricket puts its best foot forward at the Games next year,” she added.

The sense of togetherness was also evident in March, when Cricket South Africa (CSA) hosted capacity building at their Regional Office. Over the course of ten days, staff from ten national governing bodies were afforded the opportunity to gain an in-depth understanding of the various functions at CSA.

The course incorporated organizational structure, coaching and grassroots development as well as a site visit to the Soweto Oval. Set in the heart of South Africa’s most famous township, the Oval was developed in 2003 as part of ICC’s World Cup legacy. It’s progression and maintenance is a source of inspiration for anyone with cricket at heart.

ICC Africa would also like to commend the Central Gauteng Lions and the Limpopo Impala Cricket unions for hosting the delegates during the course.

The High-Performance Centre in Pretoria has also played host in June. Fifteen tutors were upskilled over a three-day course aimed at developing more coaches across the continent. This complements the courses that have taken place in Tanzania, Rwanda and Uganda. There are further courses planned for Nigeria and Kenya in Q4.

Staying in South Africa, Kwazulu-Natal Cricket and Limpopo Impala Cricket hosted three Nigerian and four Botswana cricketers on placement recently. This exposed these promising talents to top-tier coaching and competition, which boosted their preparation ahead of the various regional qualifiers across the continent.

“Cricket Associations have always been grateful for CSA’s commitment to playing a mentorship role across all facets of the game. These regular courses and clinics, as well as placements of young players, do so much for the growth of the game,” Kambarami remarked.

Women’s cricket continues to develop rapidly in Africa, with regular tournaments stimulating a competitive streak as well as national pride. The developing rivalry between Nigeria and Rwanda is one of the spin-offs of regular competition. In a five-nation invitational hosted in Lagos, Rwanda came up trumps, beating the hosts comfortably in the final. This was after Nigeria had won the group stage clash.

Gambia, Ghana and Sierra Leone were the other entrants in the tournament.

Rwanda hosted the eighth edition of the Kwibuka in June. The eight-nation event welcomed Germany and Brazil for the first time, with the entire tournament played in terrific spirit and camaraderie. Tanzania was too strong on the field, going undefeated throughout. Kenya were the losing finalists, while Uganda outlasted Rwanda for third place.

Staying with women’s cricket, five female cricketers were called up to the 2022 Fairbreak Invitational, held in Dubai. Players from Botswana, Namibia, Rwanda, Tanzania and Zimbabwe represented the continent wonderfully, with superb, all-round performances. Special mention must be made about Tanzania’s evergreen Fatuma Kibasu. She has dominated Associates cricket over the last few years, and her call-up to Dubai was deserved for her consistency and her humility.

Moving closer to the top, Uganda and Kenya concluded their respective Challenge League B campaigns in Jersey earlier this month. Uganda led the group by a point from Hong Kong while Jersey were a point further back going into Round 3. Jersey managed nine wins from their final 10 games to seal progress to the Cricket World Cup Qualifier Play-off where they will do battle against the winner of Challenge League A and the bottom four teams from Cricket World Cup League 2. Kenya managed to hold on to their Challenge League status by bagging four wins from their final five games, downing Jersey in their final fixture of the cycle. It was not to be for Uganda as they missed out by the narrowest of margins.

Namibia has an exciting period of cricket lined up as they prepare for the T20 World Cup later this year in Australia. They are currently hosting a T20 competition with The Lions from South Africa and the Qalanders from Pakistan as they build up to their respective League 2 commitments with PNG and Nepal before the showpiece in Australia. They are placed in Group A with Sri Lanka, the Netherlands, and the UAE as they carry the hopes for the Associate world at this level once again.

Zimbabwe will join Namibia in the qualifying rounds in Australia after their impressive win on home soil in Qualifier B recently. They have been placed alongside West Indies, Ireland, and Scotland in Group B. They have had some success of late, downing Bangladesh 2 -1 in their Cricket World Cup Super League engagement in Harare before going down three-nil to India this past week.

And finally, Africa regional qualifiers kick off in Botswana on September 3rd as nine teams do battle for the final spot at the ICC Women’s U19 T20 World Cup to held in South Africa in January 2023. This will be followed by the U19 Division 2 Qualifier in Abuja from 30th September to 8th October before the action moves to Rwanda for the Men’s T20 World Cup Africa Qualifiers from November 17th.

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