Saturday, July 02, 2022

Musings of A Groundsman - Facelift In Phases

In the last few years, the development and improvements that cricket has seen in this country have been in leaps and bounds. It's almost overwhelming to see the kind of progress that has been established in such a relatively short time. Even with the challenges the pandemic brought with it, cricket development did not seem to suffer much.

The latest ground to join in the line of turf pitches in Nigeria is the Tafawa Balewa Square Lagos.

The 10-strip pitch was commissioned during a colorful event by Professor Osato Giwa-Osagie, flanked by the immediate past Governor of Lagos State, His Excellency, Akinwunmi Ambode, and the President of the Nigeria Cricket Federation, Uyiosa Akpata but I guess you already knew all that. The focus of the entire cricket community was on Lagos for that commissioning.

One thing that was in the mouth of those who played the first game on it was that the pitch played so well. The bounce was not only consistent for close to 60 overs that were bowled on it on the day, it was durable and held together all through. Indeed, the home of cricket has duly earned its name.

In the theme of continuous improvement, I would like to see a few things differently in the coming months.

Currently, the scorer's stand is a tricky place to access. Though the location is strategic, the structure needs to be completed as soon as possible. Once the work on it is finished, it will start to befit the beauty that radiates from the ground it is overseeing.

Considering that most of the heavy lifting has been done on the pitch, I am sure that the next bit of work will focus on the conveniences. Right now, the ones available cannot sufficiently take care of the number of guests that fall in, especially for major events. Now that the biggest cricket ground in Nigeria has received a facelift, we do not want people hesitating to come to the ground all because they are not certain of where to go to answer mother nature if she calls.

Many of us in these parts started playing, and have been playing the game without ever needing sightscreens. And many will argue that very few people use it. However, considering that the ground will be hosting many international competitions in the coming months and years, it is essential to make sure there are standard sightscreens to go with the ground. It might not seem important now, but it will be of great significance when the time comes.

Talking about international competitions, we need to match the standard that some other cricket grounds around the world have. The sitting area for fans is not very comfortable. Not many people can comfortably sit and watch a complete game without having to stand, walk around and do back stretches. Unless we want to continue to rent chairs and canopies, we need to pay attention to and give that place an upgrade too.

Finally, in order to be more inclusive, we need to find a way to attract not only cricket lovers but their families. On other grounds, I have seen areas marked out for kids and families. The reason many people stay away from cricket grounds is because of the tendency to spend the whole day with cricket. But because many people have only weekends free, they are forced to choose between family time and cricket. Who says we cannot help them merge both? Spending time with family on the cricket ground at the home of cricket...what better combination can you have? 

-A Groundsman


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