As the U-19 Cricket World Cup comes nearer, teams are working out their final plans and are all set to enter the tournament, which is seen as the breeding ground for future stars.
Nigeria, who will be making their debut in the international debut, had a glorious run in the qualifying tournament and will see their dreams come true when they step on the field.
The Nigeria U19 Cricket national team which qualified for the world cup in March 2019 will take on Australia in their first match of the tournament on January 20, 2020.
The captain of the side Sylvester Okpe will be looking to start the tournament on a winning note.
Okpe has always been fond of wandering off and this is perhaps the biggest reason that the side has made it so far, ICC reported.
In a country where football dominates the sporting culture, the 19-year-old’s story of stumbling into cricket is not a unique one. The entire Nigeria squad had not even seen the sport before they picked up a bat to represent their side.
Some did not have shoes, let alone kit or equipment, for a game seen by teachers and parents as an easy way out of lessons. For some, support from family and outside was minimal.
British colonial masters and missionaries first brought cricket to Nigeria in the 1900s but it has taken its time to flourish. But the past 20 years have seen the tide turn.
The Nigeria Cricket Foundation (NCF) helped pave the way, not only bringing the talent to the fore but finding time for player welfare, sporting education, mentality, and professionalism.
The skipper Okpe was only 15 when first brought into the U19 squad. He has not yet turned 16 when he is made the captain.
Nigeria’s determination and grit were there to see for everyone when the spot at U-19 World Cup was at the line. By their own admission, not even those at the heart of Nigeria’s journey has expected them to progress at such an impressive rate.
The side managed to beat the hosts Namibia in the opening game in Windhoek. Batting first, the side scored 129 for eight from 50 overs.
But this Nigeria side is one of determination, and true to form it was the captain who delivered – figures of three for 16 helped skittle Namibia for 77 and the result sent shockwaves around the tournament.
Nigeria is clubbed alongside Australia, England, and West Indies in Group B for the U-19 World Cup.
In Australia, England and West Indies, each of them has won the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup at least once, and the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup five times between them.