With a recent appearance at the men’s T20 World Cup Qualifier and a maiden U19 World Cup ticked off it would be fair to assume the first name that comes to mind when one thinks about West African cricket is Nigeria. However, other countries in the region are also making impressive development gains, and Ghana is one of them.
The mission of growing cricket in the country is carried out by the Ghana Cricket Association, as it is today, who joined the ICC as an Associate Member in 2002. Emerging Cricket recently spoke to the GCA’s Cricket Operations Officer (COO) Prince Eugene King about cricket in the country and to learn about the developments and the future of the sport in the country.
From speaking to King, and Bernard Essuman the administrative officer, it is clear that theirs is a passionate administration and one that would love to see the game flourish. King stated clearly that the ambition of is ‘to become an eminent cricket nation in the Africa Sub Region’. The goal is clear, and whilst there is no illusion that the process will be easy, the level of development that has been able to be achieved by an Association which has been an ICC member for less than two decades clearly shows the intent to become one of the continent’s best teams.
The men’s national team made their first ICC competition appearance during 2006 in Division 3 of the ICC Africa World Cricket League, finishing in third place. Eleven years later Ghana won all five of their matches at the 50-over ICC World Cricket League Africa Region Qualifiers which resulted in qualifying for WCL Division 5 2017.
Since the ICC’s decision to grant full T20i status to all ICC members in 2019 the Ghanian men’s team are winless, but this does not tell the whole story. The side progressed through their sub-regional T20 World Cup qualifier undefeated, including a win against regional rivals Nigeria, however, this event was held in 2018 before universal International status was implemented.
Despite a slow start to the country’s official international T20 journey, Isaac Aboagye has stood out with the ball and is currently Ghana’s top T20i wicket-taker. Aboagye has been able to take wickets whilst remaining economical, the right-arm medium pace bowler taken six wickets at a fantastic average of 13.83 whilst going at an impressive 5.92 runs per over.
Currently, Ghana’s men’s team is ranked 35th in the ICC World T20i rankings and with women’s cricket developing in the nation it is only a matter of time before fans see the women’s team on the rankings table.
Facilities, funding and the women’s game
A national team is build upon a country’s domestic cricket system, and the Ghana Cricket Association have been working on growing the domestic infrastructure and awareness of Ghanian cricket.
Such intent can be seen with the unveiling of the progress of a new net facility on the Twitter account of the Association. When speaking to King about how such developments are able to occur, the COO stated that the Association is ‘mandated to provide the best facilities and environment for our players and every person who wants to play the game’. Whilst, it should be the norm for Associations to follow their mandate, it is fantastic to see the board take their responsibility so serious and work towards improving cricket for the people of the country.
Moreover, as the Ghana Cricket Association places key importance on the ICC development programme, with facility and capital development being a ‘key variable’ of the ICC’s funding criteria it could potentially open increased funding options to the Association. The extra funding from the ICC would be welcome, however, the GCA have also been able to find support from within Ghana.
Despite it being a football dominated country, with some of Ghana’s biggest football stars going onto play for some of Europe’s biggest teams, the Association has been able to find support both from governmental bodies and from commercial partners. Cricket has been able to gain support from The Ministry of Sports and Youth Employment as well as The National Sports Authority. For the sport to gain this governmental support, is a huge bonus to the Association who gain a huge amount of legitimacy and credibility from the government’s involvement which can be an influential factor when looking for external sponsorship.
The Association has also gained support from a variety of Ghanian based companies including GCB Bank Limited and Ghana Gas Ltd. King gave a large amount of credit to Ghana Gas for their involvement with the recent building of the 3-bay net. It is extremely positive that cricket not only has the support of companies and governmental organisations, but there is also evidence that there is a gradual increase in support from the people.
King alluded to that the Association has tried to develop the game from the grassroots; including empowering more females to actively participate in the sport. Although not the sole reason for their involvement, the move to include females in cricket based activity is in line with the ICC agenda to engage more women with the sport on a global scale.
But King, and the Ghana Cricket Association, is determined that the work to grow the sport does not stop. King is quoted as saying that in regards to developing the public’s support for the game that ‘there is still a very long way to go and as an Association we have a lot to do’. One of the current developments that is on-going is the development of the Association’s social media pages to make them more vibrant for people, a move which is more than likely looking to increase page interactions.
The Ghana Cricket Association has been able to make exciting progress and is developing a sport which the nation can be proud of. Whilst it is clear that the ambitious board does not want to rest on its laurels, the striving from development is an exciting prospect. Even though other West African nations have recently gained international coverage for their performances, Ghana should be included in the conversation when talking about the region’s most exciting cricket teams.
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