By Albert Akota
Against oppositions in UAE and South Africa recently, team Nigeria struggled against left armed cricketers and bowlers bowling in the neighbourhood of 140km/h. Against Oman in UAE and Sri Lanka in South Africa, our batsmen struggled against left arm pace with swing.
According to Nigeria Cricket Federation (NCF) President Prof A. Nkanga possibly Nigerian teams concede wickets to left arm orthodox spin more than any kind of bowling. Similarly our bowlers very often struggle against Left/ Right combinations.
To solve this problem and develop our own left arm arsenals we need to recruit more left handers into our cricket.
There are not many left handers in our cricket because we have traditionally recruited them by chance. Only 10-15 percent of any given population is left handed and that’s why most of our teams have only one or none.
Meanwhile we have been playing matches against teams with more than half as lefties. These countries are doing something extra to attract left handers and we must learn from them.
Most of our bowlers are far below the average height and physique required to generate pace of 140/km. It’s therefore not surprising that our teams are physically disadvantaged compared to many of our opponents. This has impact on ability to clear big boundaries as well
To solve these problems, I suggest we introduce special incentives to attract more left handers, physically endowed children and intelligent children into our entry level programs. Incentives include, seeking them out of classes, additional packages like extra caps and T shifts. Follow up should be in place to guarantee retention.
I’m sure if we do these consistently for years we will be the ones providing the left arm threat.
Meanwhile the U19 National Cricket Team was received back in the country with special presentation of two youngsters to their school Principal.