Cricket is big in Nigeria

Much of whatever energy I have left after work and family goes to football, but I had to post this argument by Naija blogger, Jeremy Weate, including his description of the beautiful game–Sean

Jeremy Weate
Guest Blogger

Chinua Achebe was wrong.

The trouble with Nigeria is not a lack of good leaders, it is that far too many people (men and women, boys and girls, sadly) obsess about a funny game which involves an inflated leather ball being kicked about between two gateposts with nets at the back. A sport that heralds the end of summer and the death of light that is winter in the northern hemisphere. The sport is sometimes referred to as ‘soccer’ (by Americans, who like to pretend that what they call football is a global sport, which it is not) but more commonly known as football.

There is no real strategy to the thing, apart from minor worries about team formation (4:3:3:1 etc.) and buying and selling players. The captain doesn’t really do anything except wear an armband. I suppose its popularity stems from its lack of depth and sophistication. It can be great to watch, but its basically coca-cola: the sugar rush of excitement is quickly forgotten. There is no scope for an epic contest. No one puts great achievements up in gold letters in oak-panelled rooms anywhere.

In massive contrast, of course, is the game of cricket: gloriously multilayered, with strategy, tactics and ordinary operations available in abundance. Cricket is collective chess for 22 people; a celebration of the earth and the sky; a one-on-one contest in a team setting. Cricket is the past and the future, with perhaps 2 billion adorers and growing (China is coming on board as we speak). Lest we not forget, cricket is an older sport in America than baseball.

Lagos-team Fegocowosa (in the picture above) have an excellent website for those curious to mend the error of their ways. The Nigerian Cricket Federation site is not bad either. Did you know that Naija’s Under 19 squad is in Africa’s First Division? Did you also know, that thanks to the VP, cricket is now compulsory for schoolkids in Kaduna State? Alhaji Sambo is a man of great vision and accomplishment.

I have a dream: of hundreds if not thousands of teams, up and down the land; of commercial sponsorship aplenty; of superheroes of the bat and ball from Enugu, Kano and Lagos; of a 20/20 victory over Australia at the Wacca.

* Jeremy Weate blogs at the very informative Naijablog. This post first appeared on his site. As Jeremy informed me by email:  “…  There’s a good book to be written about the globalisation of cricket which takes up the writerly lineage from CLR James to Mike Marqusee and beyond. The sport’s colonial heritage always creates deeper political implications than football: witness the Pakistan President getting involved in the latest cricket scandal [during] the recently concluded Pakistan tour of England.  The sacredness of cricket’s arcane rules reproduce elements of the civilising mission (and responses to it) wherever it is played.”



Sean Jacobs

Also goes by Hasan Wazan. Life President.

  1. Sigh yes. I wish for such a book. My mum used to organise us all under the mango trees – it was an honest civilising mission on her part. The star players in Sri Lanka hang out in the lobbies of posh hotels by the seaside with their show-case wives…in India and Sri Lanka, we say that if people just stopped playing/watching/gambling over cricket for a bit, we’d be better citizens, but then, we’d be back to murdering each other, too. Cricket is now compulsory for schoolkids in Kaduna State?! I have to say that my heart sings…I hope girls get to have a go, too.

  2. I don’t know what Americans you know but I’ve never met anyone who thinks our football is a global sport. We know exactly what it is, an American sport. We hear the disdain in your voices when you talk about it. We just don’t care that you don’t like it, we do. Maybe that’s the disconnect you’re sensing.

  3. Football might be popular but cricket is something different

    In cricket, the captain, the bowlers, all have a lot of importance. In football, the highest earning players are the strikers. WHO cares about goalkeepers being exchanged, and only a few goalkeepers like steklenberg, caesar and casillas is know. BUT in cricket, the bowler, the wk, batsman, inclusive of all rounders all are very important. There are advantages of being an off spinner, left arm spinner and leg spin, with some disadvantages though.

    Cricket is a game of glorious uncertainity. in soccer, u cant tell how much goal a team can score, and sometime, the best team does not win. In cricket, the best team on the field wins, almos always.

    Cricket will continue to develop. It is a sport that spreads like cancer, and mind you, cricket is so beautiful that it has eradicated importance of football and hockey in the subcontinent.

    Who ever had the dream of beating Australia at wacca, ur dreams are not TOO far. IN cricket, anything can happened, especially in 20-20

    Cricket(esp. 20-20) is too good a sport to not be popular in most countries. sports like basketball are biased towards tall people. Cricket

    Hopefully, Nigeria will come in the Top-32 cricketing teams, not necessarily a gaint

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