There was terrific skill on display during the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup Africa qualifying tournament, which proved to be a roaring success.
There were some standout performances on the field over the five days of action, such as the incredible 102 not out from Zephania Arinaitwe of Uganda. He required just 40 deliveries to reach his century on the final day against Tanzania.
Other notable performances included Matthew de Gouveia’s 102 not out for Namibia against Sierra Leone, which was full of excellent strokes. Ramon Wilmot, also of Namibia, made a brilliant 132 against Tanzania as the hosts generally scored heavily throughout the week.
Elijah Olaleye scored a crucial century for Nigeria against Tanzania for his 110 not out to lay the foundation for a fourth win on the trot for the prolific side.
The bowlers were not to be left out of the action, though, with plenty of young talent making their mark. Samuel Conteh is certainly one to keep an eye on after a sensational spell that yielded 5-4. Jan Izak de Villiers (Namibia) and Frank Akankwasa (Uganda) also had a good week with the ball, finishing on 11 wickets apiece.
Charles Kargbo produced the spell of the tournament with his 6-32 against Kenya to secure a remarkable victory for Sierra Leone.
The tournament went down to the wire, with Namibia needing to beat Kenya on the final day while at the same time hoping for a favour from the Leone Stars in their derby against Nigeria. After Namibia dispatched Kenya, all eyes turned to the WAP-Affies field to see if Nigeria could handle the pressure.
They did the job with the ball, bowling Sierra Leone out for 138, but the chase didn’t go according to script as they slipped from 80-4 to 91-7 with the Leone Stars sensing an upset.
Up stepped Abdulrahman Jimoh and Player of the Match Peter Aho. They took the Nigerians home with 34 balls to spare to seal a maiden appearance at a World Cup for the talented West Africans. Known for his bowling, Aho displayed the maturity needed with the bat in the situation to take his team over the line.
A special mention must be made of Cricket Namibia for producing quality surfaces and seamless logistics throughout the tournament.
Batsman of the tournament – Divan la Cock (Namibia)
He scored 271 runs in five matches, including three half-centuries. He had an average of 54 during the tournament, while leading his side with aplomb.
Bowler of the tournament – Mauritius Ngupita (Namibia)
With an overall haul of 15 wickets for 71 runs from 37.1 overs, the Namibian took his scalps at an astonishing rate. He had an economy rate of just 1.91 to the over as his unerring control hit the spot again and again.
Player of the tournament – Sylvester Okpe (Nigeria)
The Nigerian skipper led his charge from the front, taking nine wickets during the week. More than the sticks, he mixed up his attack expertly and kept the team calm when they closed in on history. His spell against Namibia on the first day was telling as he rifled through the middle order. Okpe also scored 111 vital runs for his side, with a highest score of 55 not out.
Photo: Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images