By Ijeoma Okigbo
Some cricket stakeholders in the country have lauded the Nigeria Cricket Federation (NCF) for the revamped Tafa Balewa Square (TBS) turf wicket in Lagos.
The TBS cricket oval, now upgraded to international standard is widely regarded as the nation’s traditional home of cricket.
The facility had been shutdown for 18 months due to its upgrading from the previous concrete bowling strips to grass wicket.
Meanwhile, some stakeholders told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Tuesday that the facility would accelerate the development of the game in the country.
Enesi Habib, an International Cricket Council (ICC) certified umpire, who was present at the unveiling, likened the pitch to that of South Africa, a test cricket playing country.
The level one ICC umpire added that umpires would love to officiate at such pitches.
“It was an awesome experience in Lagos, as the traditional home of cricket in Nigeria was transformed from concrete to turf pitch.
“Technically, it is expected that the on-field performance of our players would be enhanced.
“Most importantly, this unveiling would attract the ICC to bring big tournaments to Nigeria as we can boast of seven functional turf pitches in Nigeria.
“The TBS turf pitch is likened to Gahanga cricket pitch in Rwanda and Senwes Park in South Africa and as an umpire, its always beautiful to officiate in an environment of serenity,” Habib said.
Uthe Ogbimi, coach of the national under 19 male team, said the issue of acclimatising to pitches elsewhere, would be a thing of the past.
“This is an icing on the cake, in terms of facility development in the country.
“The story of acclimatising to pitches elsewhere ahead of international events, is now over. Now, we can even invite other countries to come to play against us.
“Of course, training tours are necessary to adapt to a different weather, change of environment, match conditions, competitions template and more, but not on the basis of lack of facility.
“Players will train on that pitch week in, week out, and once we do that locally, it won’t be different when they travel for international events,” Ogbimi added.
According to Samantha Agazuma, senior women national team player, players can now train on internationally accepted pitches.
“The players are super excited about the launch of the new wicket.
“It brings so much joy to the players as we can now practice and prepare for tournaments on internationally accepted pitches.
“This upgrade across the country will greatly influence the performance of players in both local and international events.
“We are super grateful to Uyi Akpata, the NCF president and the federation at large for ensuring the growth of the game in the country,” Agazuma said.
Peter Aho, senior men national team player, also lauded the federation, adding that the facility would go a long way in improving the game at the grassroots.
The facility, unveiled on Sunday, has brought the number of such to seven in the country. (NAN)(www.nannews.ng)