There was terrific skill on display over the five days of action in the recent ICC Under 19 Cricket World Cup Africa Qualifiers.
Over the course of the week, the ICC Under 19 Cricket World Cup Africa qualifying tournament was a roaring success. There was terrific skill on display over the five days of action, and a mention must be made of Cricket Namibia, for quality surfaces and seamless logistics throughout.
On the field itself, there were some standout performances, like the incredible 102 not out from Zephania Arinaitwe of Uganda. He needed just 40 balls to score his runs on the final day against Tanzania.
Other notable centuries included Namibia’s Matthew de Gouveia, who notched 102 not out against Sierra Leone, which was full of excellent strokes. Ramon Wilmot, also of Namibia, made a brilliant 132 against Tanzania, and the host’s in general scored heavily throughout the week.
Elijah Olaleye made a crucial ton for Nigeria, as his 110 not out against Tanzania laid the foundation for a fourth win on the trot.
There were also some fine spells of bowling, such as Samuel Conteh’s 5/48 for Sierra Leone against Uganda. He is certainly one to keep an eye on. Jan Izak de Villiers (Namibia) and Frank Akankwasa (Uganda) had a good week with the ball, finishing on 11 wickets apiece.
Charles Kargbo produced the spell of the tournament, as his 6/32 against Kenya secured a remarkable victory for Sierra Leone.
The tournament went down to the wire with Namibia needing to beat Kenya on the final day whilst hoping for a favour from the Leone Stars in the derby against Nigeria. After Namibia dispatched Kenya, all eyes turned to the WAP-Affies Field to see if Nigeria could handle the pressure.
They did the job with the ball, bowling Sierra Leone out for 138. But the chase did not go according to script though as they slipped from 80/4 to 91/7 with the Leone Stars sensing an upset.
Up stepped Abdulrahman Jimoh and player of the match Peter Aho. They took the Nigerians home with 34 balls to spare sealing a maiden appearance at a World up for the talented West Africans.
Known for his bowling, Aho displayed the maturity needed with the bat in the situation. When the dust settled, however, the individual prizes were thus:
Batsman of the tournament
Divan la Cock, Namibia. He scored 271 runs over five matches, with three half-centuries. All this at an average of 54, while leading his side with aplomb.
Bowler of the tournament
Mauritius Ngupita, Namibia. He was always in the wickets. With an overall haul of 15 wickets for 71 runs from 37.1 overs, he took his scalps at an astonishing average of 4.71. He also had an economy rate of just 1.91 an over, as his unerring control hit the spot again and again.
Player of the tournament
Slyvester Okpe, Nigeria captain. He led demonstratively, taking nine wickets during the week. More than the wickets, he mixed up his attack expertly, and kept the team calm when they closed in on history. His spell against Namibia on the first day was telling, as he rifled through the middle-order. Okpe also scored 111 vital runs for his side, with a high score of 55 not out.