Saturday, July 02, 2022

Musings with The Swinger - Nigeria: A Country of Bowlers

It's been a minute. I know. It has not been for nothing. The past few weeks have witnessed plenty of cricket action across the nation. And I just wanted you to soak it all in without my pesky musings. Even if you have not been attentive, you would have come across a cricket post from all that has been happening especially in Edo State. The ancient city of Benin has been host to a host of talents (haha...see what I did there?), recognized and upcoming.

With the National Men's Championship gradually building up to a crescendo, the National Sports Festival just around the corner, and the National Women's Championship pouncing on us just after, one thing that has been proven and currently being exhibited at the ongoing Championship is this: apart from _, another thing that we have in abundance in this country is bowlers.

If there's one thing this current tournament has failed to deliver on, it's the promise of plenty of fireworks from the blades of batsmen across the sides.

This lack of fireworks has not been because of lack of dynamites; in fact, the names of players in some of the batting line-ups are names a bowler would see and suddenly develop cold feet. The lack of fireworks has been largely due to the fact that the sheer quantity and most importantly, quality of bowling has drowned out the flames of the batsmen's blades even before they lit the match.

In the 12 group games where the T20 format was played, only 8 times did the batting side cross the 100-run mark. And of the 8 times, Kaduna managed the feat 3 times, while Oyo and Rivers achieved it twice each. The only other side was Ebonyi State. The other half of the participating teams did not seem interested in the landmark. Only a third of the entire 24 innings did any batting side score a paltry one run per ball for 20 overs.

This brings us to our muse - Nigeria is a country of bowlers. The cricket culture in the country raises an average individual to become a bowler. I remember when we started to learn the game, it took several months before we were allowed to hold a bat and face any form of bowling. And we see the same tradition continuing even till today.

So unless an individual takes particular interest in batting, commits the time to it, is privileged to have a coach/mentor to assist with the essentials, finds an above-average bowler to train with, and gets a reasonably good bat to play with, the odds are ginormously stacked against such a person.

If you're a coach, an administrator, or a person of influence in the Nigerian cricket circle, and you're reading this, maybe it's time for you to effect and influence a change. Break the cycle. Let us for once as a nation be able to boast of ourselves as a balanced side - plenty of bowling, and plenty more of batting and fielding...and maybe one day, the long-elusive international triumph will once again be our lot.

That's all from us for now.

-A Groundsman and the Swinger


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