Today, 28th August 2018, the Sierra Leone Under-19 team took the field in the final of the U19 CWC Qualifier Africa Division 2 against Nigeria. The game took place in the prestigious Senwes Park, which has hosted two test matches and is also used as the home ground for the Highveld Lions, a main franchise in the South African domestic competitions.
However, in this game, it was the Sierra Leone youngsters who won the toss and inserted the Nigerians into bat. Observed by umpires, Andrew Louw and David Odhiambo, the Nigerian opening pair of Olaleye and Mba took the crease. There must be a lot of credit given to the pair, the opening partnership was a colossal 148 runs before Mba was run out on 62 (off 124 balls) by Haroun Kamara. Olaleye went on to bat almost the entire innings scoring a huge individual score of 110 (off 124 balls), Olaleye was eventually bowled by Ex Kent CC youngster Osman T Sankoh. After that, there was a courageous fightback from the young bowlers preventing any other batsmen to get past the 30 run mark. At the end of the 50 overs, the Nigerians finished on 242/9.
In reply, unfortunately, the Sierra Leone innings never got started. There was only one batsman that was able to get past the 30 run mark and that was Edward Ngegba, the captain, who finished not out on 31 runs (off 44 balls). The Nigerian bowler Aho, unfortunately, ripped through the Sierra Leone batting line up finishing with a 5-wicket haul.
Despite this loss, the Sierra Leone U19 boys team still qualified for the African Division 1 qualifying for the Under-19 World cup which means that the team is only one tournament away from representing the nation on the biggest stage, the World Cup. The next stage of the tournament is due to take place in March 2019 in Namibia, with the world cup being held in South Africa in 2020.
Everybody involved with Kent CC would like to congratulate everybody who was involved with the team, including the players, the backroom staff, fans, friends and family. Without all of these ingredients, the team could not have been as successful as it has been.
This team has represented the nation with pride and honour and has drawn many eyes to the growth that is occurring in Sierra Leone cricket at the moment. This growth cannot be mentioned without giving credit to the Board and Executive Management team of the Sierra Leone Cricket Association; their continued support have allowed for the team to be on the international stage and also allow for the continued development of cricket within the nation.
Emmanuel Pessima said when asked by Isaac Lockett about his pride, he stated that ‘I am proud of a club I founded in 2011, Kent Cricket Club Ltd that is committed to the growth of young players and now the results of this fantastic club is being seen with our products being successful for Sierra Leone on the international stage’.
As a further accolade to add to an already impressive tournament for the Sierra Leone national side there was an individual award for one of the players. Ex Kent youngster John Bangura was Awarded best fielder of the tournament after taking 9 catches and completing 4 stumpings
Written by Emmanuel Pessima & Isaac Lockett.
Photo Credit: SLCA