Sierra Leone national trials start with T20 series

Isaac Lockett reports on a national trial tournament organised by the Sierra Leone Cricket Association.

Sierra U19's team photo prior to the 2020 youth Series
Sierra U19s pose for a team photo ahead of the 2020 youth series (Cricket Sierra Leone)

Following Sierra Leone’s U-19 and U-17s series, the country’s cricketers were once again in action for a T20 series. 

The series saw two national men’s sides, commonly known as the Patriots compete against Sierra Leone’s U-19 and U-17 sides in two days of competitive action. The tournaments aim to prepare the players for a busy international fixture list, during which they will compete in the U19 Cricket World Cup and Men’s T20 World Cup qualifiers.

The results 

Despite there being one game left to play in the series, due to a postponement, the best the chasing pack can do is match the swashbuckling U-19 team on points. As it stands, the U-19 team sits at the top of the table with four points after winning two of their three games. However, the other three teams currently sit on two points apiece. Having played all three of their matches, the U-17 team is at the mercy of other results to determine where they will finish on the table. The game between the two Patriots sides will be rescheduled; its outcome determining the final standings.

TeamGames playedWonLoss Points Net run Rate
Sierra Leone U19’s3214-0.153
Sierra Leone U17’s31220.417
Sierra Leone Patriots ‘A’2112-0.025
Sierra Leone Patriots ‘B’2112-0.466

The story of the Sierra Leone U-19s tournament

Game one: U-19s beat Patriots ‘B’ by nine runs.
Game two: U-19s lost to Patriots ‘A’ by four wickets.
Game three: U-19s beat U17s by two runs. 

The Sierra Leone U-19 side has been an impressive unit over the last four years. They impressed during the ICC Under 19 World Cup Africa Division 2 tournament despite losing to Nigeria in the final. The Sierra Leone Cricket Association appeared to understand the importance of the team playing together before the upcoming U-19 World Cup Qualifiers. Therefore, many of the players who play for both the U-19 and the national sides were kept in the U19 squad. This decision meant that national men’s team captain George Edward Ngegba, who recently won Sierra Leone’s Best Sports Man Of The Year, John Bangura and Chernor Bah were all part of the U-19 squad for the series.     

Sierra Leone’s U-19 side started the tournament against a robust Patriots ‘B’ team. The team scored an impressive 153/6 with the bat, Bangura top-scoring with 43 off 41 balls. Edmond Ernest (19), Bah (25) and Haroun Kamara (31*) also got amongst the runs. Bah continued his fine form with the ball. He recorded the impressive figures of 1-16 from three overs. Eric Musa Turay finished with 1-24 from his four overs. The bowling efforts in the second innings and a fine fielding display helped secure victory by nine-runs. 

In the second game, the U-19s came up against the Patriots ‘A’ side. Despite Bangura (23) and Ernest (24) maintaining their scoring form and John Lassayo scoring 21 the team looked short of runs after finishing on 119/7 from their 20 overs. However, the U-19 side showed impressive character with the ball to ensure that the team were still in the game till the end. Despite losing the game by four wickets, Lassayo (2-17), Charles Kargbo (1-22) and the consistently impressive Ernest (1-11) put in an impressive all round performance.

The side’s final game was their two run win against the U-17s. This was arguably one of the most exciting games to take place in Sierra Leone during 2020. In the first innings, John Bangura top-scored for the U-19s with a thrilling 59 off 35 balls, including seven boundaries. E.M Turay also batted well scoring an unbeaten 26, coming in at number three. National men’s team and U-19 captain Ngegba also had a game to remember, scoring 27 with the bat and then playing a vital role with the ball.

Defending 151, Lassayo (1-26), Bah (0-25) and Ngegba (2-20) helped to control the run rate, putting collective pressure on the U-17s to score during the later stages of the innings. In the end, the U-19s held their nerve to win the match by two runs, making for a classic T20 match up.

The U-19s had a good tournament with contributions from various players helping them secure at least second in the table. With key players like Bangura, Ernest and Bah all impressing through the tournament the U-19’s will be going into 2021 with confidence, which will hold them in good stead for U-19 World Cup qualification tournament.

The story of the Sierra Leone U-17s tournament

Game one: U-17s beat Patriots ‘A’ by 35 runs
Game two: U-17s lost to Patriots ‘B’ by 8 runs.
Game three: U17s lost to U19s by 2 runs

Before the U-19 and U-17 series, men’s national team captain Ngegba shared his excitement about a number of U-17 players in the country. These included opening batsman Alusine Turay, left-arm off-spinner Raymond Coker and George Sesay, said to be the fastest bowler in the U-17 team. 

The U-17s’ first match was against the Patriots ‘A’ side. The team finished the first innings with 130 runs on the board. However, only Mohamed Kamara (24), Ibrahim Sheik Kamara (11) and Mohamed Lamin Kamara (11) scored double figures for the side. On the contrary, the young bowlers impressed with several exciting performances. The U-17s defended the target of 130 after restricting the Patriots ‘A’ side to 95-8 as Sesay (1-13 off 3), M.L Kamara (2-19 off 3.4), Coker (2-22 off 4) and Karim Kamara (1-9 off 4) all returned miserly figures.  

The U-17s’ second match was a close affair, which they lost by eight runs to the Patriots ‘B’ side. Sesay maintained his excellent form with the ball in hand. He finished with figures of 1-12 from his four overs while Mohamed Kamara (2-18) and K.Kamara (2-21) also gained plaudits for their performances. M.Kamara continued to impress as he scored 22 during the run chase with Coker (21) and I.S Kamara (22) all made significant contributions. In the end, it just wasn’t enough.

The third game of the tournament saw the U-17s come out against the U-19s for the match of the series. Sesay continued to thrive with the ball in hand as he finished with figures of 2-22. Meanwhile, M.Kamara also continued to impress fans of Sierra Leone’s national sides. He is quickly becoming one to watch for the future, and he finished the first innings with figures of 1-21 from his four overs. As was commonplace throughout the U-17s’ three matches M.Kamara helped the team get off to a good start with the bat. He scored 24 at the top of the order. M.Kamara found a good partner in I.S Kamara who also continued to score runs for the team with an impressive 39. However, in Samuel Humper (43) and K.Kamara (26*), the U-17s almost claimed what would have been a remarkable victory. The pair were brought together after 9.4 overs and batted the remainder of the game as Humper got out on the last ball of the match only two runs short of their target. 

The U-17s should be proud of their performances during the tournament. Not only did individuals shine, but the team came together to form a fantastic unit. There were plenty of positives to take away from the team’s performances. Still, for Sierra Leone’s cricket fans, the most exciting prospect must be the potential of future national team players. They promise to help Sierra Leone’s cricket team reach a new level of performance.   

The story of the Sierra Leone Patriots ‘A’ tournament 

Game One: Patriots ‘A’ lost to U-17s by 35 runs.

Game Two: Patriots ‘A’ beat U-19s by 4 wickets. 

The two Patriots sides comprised of Sierra Leone’s best domestic talent mixed in with recognised national team players. As such, there was plenty of exciting talent in the Patriots ‘A’ ranks. Fans of Sierra Leone cricket would be excited to see the likes of Zahid Khan, Lansana Lamin and Abass Gbla in action. 

The tournament got off to a slow and clumsy start for Patriots A, as they conceded 33 extras including 25 wides in their first outing. Patriots A did claim all ten U-17 wickets with L.Lamin finishing with 3-2. Mohammed S. Khan also impressed, recording figures of 2-8 from his three overs. Ibrahim Sinneh Kamara (28) and Edward Marrah (16) were the only two batsmen to score more than 15 runs during a tough chase for the side. However, the team were showed resilience to ensure that they batted out their 20 overs.    

In the team’s second match, the bowling display was much tighter. It saw them limit the U-19s to 119 runs from their 20 overs. Both Richard Tommy (2-20) and Gbla (2-19) picked up two wickets during a much more controlled bowling performance. Patriots A carried this momentum into their batting. Opening batsman and wicket-keeper Ibrahim Opouch Mansaray got the chase off to a solid start, scoring a calm 28 while Khan (19), Tommy (24*) and Lamin (16*) all scored lower-order runs for the team after a middle-order wobble. 

It has thus far been a mixed bag for the Patriots ‘A’ side with one game left to play. The match against the U-17’s would have left some questions that needed answering. However, it seems like most of those questions were answered after the performance against the U-19s. The team would have been looking for some more consistency. However, it is hard to generate squad momentum after just two games, so it is hard to read too much into the two results.  

The story of the Sierra Leone Patriots ‘B’ tournament 

Game one: Patriots ‘B’ lost to U-19’s by 9 runs. 

Game two: Patriots ‘B’ beat U-17’s by 8 runs. 

With the likes of Yegbeh Jalloh, Julius Quee, who was captaining the side, and Osman T Sankoh the Patriots ‘B’ side was comprised of recognised talent. The team’s first match went down to the wire, with the Patriots ultimately losing to the U-19’s by 9 runs. Despite coming out on the losing side, there were many impressive performances with both bat and ball. Bowling first, Solomon William finished with 2-25 while Minoru Kpaka impressed with his economical spell of 0-22 from his four overs. During the chase, both Jalloh (35) and Quee (44*) started the tournament well. Both batsmen got valuable time in the middle. 

Game two for the Patriots ‘B’ side saw them take on the U-17 side in what turned out to be another nail biter. The Patriots ‘B’ side batted first and contributions from Joseph Kamanoh (32) and Kaka (30*) helped the team finish on 117/6, which had previously not been enough to win games. Kaka, who was one of the players of the tournament, also made a telling contribution with the ball after finishing his four-over spell with figures of 2-10, including one maiden over during a performance in the field which also saw him take two catches. Captain Quee’s 3-19 saw him finish as the innings top wicket-taker. 

Having been involved in two tight games so far, it has been a good tournament for the Patriots ‘B’ side. The team was able to get off to a good start in their two games with top-order batsman helping to set a platform. Their bowlers have been able to bowl tightly and pick up wickets. 

Players of the tournament  

U-19 player John Bangura finished his three matches with 125 runs at an average of 41.67 and a strike rate of 130.21 to claim what seems to be an unassailable lead at the top of the run-scoring charts. Bangura also scored the only half-century of the tournament after scoring 59 against the U-17s. Alongside Bangura, two other young talents really stood out with the bat: U-17 players Ibrahim Sheik Kamara and Mohamed Kamara. Ibrahim Sheik Kamara finished his tournament with 72 runs, a high score of 39 and a strike rate of 184.62. I.S Kamara also hit seven sixes to see him lead the six hitting charts. U-17 opening batsman Mohamed Kamara impressed through his consistent ability to score runs at the top of the order, averaging 23.33.

U-19 off-spinner John Lassayo led the wicket-taking charts with five wickets from his three games with an average of 14.4 and a strike rate of 13.20. Alongside Lassayo, U-17 right-arm medium bowler George Sesay was a consistent bowler throughout the tournament picking up four wickets at an average of 11.75, a strike rate of 16.50 and showed he was able to slow the run rate finishing with an economy rate of 4.27. 

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