Cricket in Sierra Leone restarts with youth series

Isaac Lockett speaks to Edward George Ngegba about the upcoming series between Sierra Leone's upcoming youth series.

Members of the Under 19 team pose for a photo (Photo: George Edward Ngegba)

Cricket in Sierra Leone is restarting after the enforced break caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The country’s U19 team will take on the U17 team in four one day matches scheduled to take place at the Kingdom Cricket Oval Police Ground. The matches are scheduled to take place on the 21st, 22nd, 28th and 29th of November. 2020.

Sierra Leone’s national team and U19 team captain, Edward George Ngegba spoke to Emerging Cricket about the restart and the upcoming series. 

Members of the U19 team pose for a photo (Photo: George Edward Ngegba)

Returning to cricket and preparing for the tournament

According to Ngegba, ‘players maintained their fitness during the lockdown by following personal training regimes in their own homes, but have been eagerly awaiting to the lifting of a government suspension on all sporting activities.’

Grateful for the opportunity to start playing cricket, the players’ dedication is showing in training. Ngegba believes that the current energy level around the squad is something that ‘hasn’t been seen within previous squads.’

‘The boys are truly excited and energised throughout the sessions. We have been getting tremendous support from the coaches who have enabled us to have fun and enjoy our cricket. The combination of these factors is responsible for the massive turnouts at training,’ he continues.

Ngegba believes that the series will ‘be of immense help to both teams.’ It will allow ‘to fairly evaluate their skills and techniques that they have been working on over the past weeks,’ he says. Alongside evaluating the skills they have been working on, Ngegba states that ‘it will also help us (both the teams and individual players) to better understand our strengths and weaknesses.’

Speaking about what the teams will focus on, Ngegba says, ‘we would want to execute out plans accurately but play with fluency. Executing our game plans, strategies, skills and techniques is important. We will be looking first to bat out 50 overs throughout the matches. We will also be also trying to build partnerships with the bat…bowl consistent lines and lengths and take our chances in the field.’

George Ngegba with members of the PortLoko District community during an SLCA initiative (Photo: Sierra Leone Cricket Association)

Ones to Watch

U17 Team

Alusine Turay is an explosive and hard-hitting open batsman with a variety of classic shots. He is also doing well with his wicket-keeping skills and has safe hands when fielding in within the 30-metre circle.     

Raymond Coker is described as a special talent by the captain of his national side. Coker is a left-arm off-spinner and a fearless batsman who can adjust his game according to match conditions.

George Ngegba (Left) with Raymond Coker (Right) (Photo: Edward George Ngegba)

Mohamed Kamara is a disciplined all-rounder who is both mentally and tactically strong. Kamara is a patient opening batsman who is able to find scoring options throughout his innings but also doubles up as a key wicket-taker. Kamara can be expensive with the ball in hand, however, if Kamara is able to find his rhythm then it will be fascinating to see how he goes. 

According to Ngegba, George Sesay is ‘the most improved young player’ in the group. Sesay bats ‘with discipline and has the ability to take onboard instructions from the team or captain’. Ngegba believes that Sesay is ‘ a reliable youngster … and currently the fastest bowler in the U-17 team.’

Mohamed Lamin Kamara is a good left-hand bowler who has the ability to bowl accurate away-swingers According to Ngegba, Mohamed Lamin is one the best pace bowlers in Sierra Leone at the moment.

Finally, Ngegba is interested to see how under 17 captain Ibrahim Sheik Kamara performs and leads his team throughout the series. He’s an ‘explosive’ middle-order batsman. Ngegba states that he ‘would love to see him play a captain innings’.

U19 Team

According to Ngegba, Eric M. Turay is an exceptional all-rounder who bats, bowls off-spin, is an electric fielder, and can also play the role of wicketkeeper. Turay is a ‘seasoned batsman who plays a range of diverse shots and can put pressure on spin bowlers.’ Ngegba says ‘I love watching him play. He’s got a very safe hands and a tactical brain.’

Samuel Conteh one of the main fast bowlers in the U19 team and is a genuine wicket-taker according to Ngegba. ‘Samuel is currently the most fierce and fastest bowler in the U-19 team’.

This writer believes that Ngegba himself and wicketkeeper John Bangura are players for the fans to keep an eye on.

Ngegba is a strong middle-order batsman who is able to push the runrate towards the latter stages of an innings but can also play anchor. His quality shone in a knock of 69 against Kenya U19 at the ICC Under-19 World Cup Qualifier Africa Division One 2019  Ngegba also bowls effective off-spin which is able to slow down the scoring rate and produce wickets out of pressure.

This writer tips John Bangura to make an impact on the world stage. Bangura’s fast hands behind the stumps are unparalleled, certainly in Sierra Leone, and he is also a talented top order batsman. During a match against Botswana U19 Bangura showed his class with three catches and a stumping and a score of 55* in Sierra Leone’s successful run chase.

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