Cricket is one of the most extensively played sports all across the world. It is also one of the most beloved team sports, with millions of dedicated fans in almost every country. With hundreds of leagues and tournaments played all around the globe every year, it is evident that cricket is an essential part of culture and tradition in more than half the world. Nigeria is one of the most popular countries that has been extensively participating in the sport for over a century. Nigerian cricket plays a big role in influencing the ICC world cup betting rates as well. This West African country has a rich cricket heritage; after all these years, the legacy continues. Cricket is one of the primary sports in Nigeria. The spirit of sportsmanship has been thoroughly nurtured, transitioning from generation to generation.
Cricket In Nigeria. Early Years
Since the British introduced cricket to Nigeria in the 19th century, the country has made it part and parcel of its life and culture. The first international was played in 1904 between two national teams representing the Lagos colony and the Gold Coast colony. The match was played at Race Course on the 25th of May, 1904 and ended with Gold Coast winning by a mere 22 runs. It marked the beginning of cricket as a tradition in Nigeria. The match became a fixed event, organized yearly, and the games were multi-racial for the first three years. The installation in 1906 was fully European. However, in 1907, the Africans started their fixture not much later. This tradition was interrupted abruptly by the first world war and was not resumed until the mid-1920s.
In between the world wars, when the entire world was drowned in a state of economic, social and political chaos, Nigerian cricket was entering the golden era. Cricket started to become a big part of life in the African county. Frequent matches began to be organized with participation from both the European and the African communities. For the first time, cricket associations were being formed in Nigeria. The European Cricket Association was formed in 1932, and the African Association in 1933. The Nigerian cricket atmosphere became so engrossing that even world-class players from England started to make regular appearances at the annual international games in the country. Before World War 2 began, the last game was played in 1939, which ended in a glorious win for the Gold Coast by a margin of 58 runs.
Although the Second World War marked a hiatus for cricket in Nigeria, the craze for the sport never dimmed even a little. With the war dying in 1947, Nigerian Cricket made a memorable comeback with a 5-day match played in Lagos that resulted in a draw. Another game was played in 1949, which favoured Gold Coast again. After that, as the number of European workers slowly diminished from Nigeria, the quality and skills of Nigerian cricketers began to climb up the ladder. By 1956, multi-racial matches started to become the norm in Nigerian cricket. As 1960 marked the independence of Nigeria, it also marked the beginning of a new era of cricket in the West African land. The interest grew among locals, and regular matches started to be organized. The annual cricket matches against Sierra Leone and The Gambia began to be organized in 1964 and were a regular event until the 1970s. At that point, the country started to take a strong inclination toward football. It created a thorough decline in the quality of Nigerian Cricket. The outcome was properly visible when Tanzania began touring in 1974, and out of the three matches played, Nigeria lost two and the third one ended in a draw. In 1976, Nigeria also faced heavy losses with the MCC. This deterioration in Nigerian cricket resulted from internal conflicts in the Nigerian Cricket Association and the problems brewing in the country itself. Even with these declining standards, Nigeria still formed the majority of the West African Cricket team, becoming an ICC associate member in 1976.
The West African Cricket team played some important matches afterwards, including the ICC trophy tournaments in 1982 and 1997. They withdrew from the 2001 tournament that took place in Ontario. Nigerian Cricket vigour did not completely die down. They still played several matches on their occasions. However, they bowed out of some important tournaments like the Africa Cricket Association Championship held in 1998. The West African Cricket Conference came to an end in 2002, which led to Nigeria becoming an associate member of the ICC on its own.