When the Ghana U-19 cricket team beat Nigeria to win gold at the International Cricket Council Division Two Tournament in Benoni, South Africa on Saturday, 17th September, 2016, it was beyond their greatest expectations, according to the President of the Ghana Cricket Association, Dr. William Ampofo.
The victory coupled with the manner in which the Ghanaian boys humbled their Nigerian counter parts was a momentous occasion for the young Ghanaian team.
A never to be forgotten match for the team, Ghana made 28 runs for zero in 4.3 overs in the second innings to outrun Nigeria’s 27 runs for 10 wickets in 15.4 overs to emerge as winners by 10 wickets.
An ICC Africa report gave a more detailed description of what had happened in the final game between Ghana and its fierce West African rival, Nigeria:
"Tensions were on the rise in this “all eyes on” match today. Nigeria took on Ghana and after winning the toss on the ‘B’ Field of Sahara Park Willowmoore, Nigeria chose to bat.
“Nigeria was not up to their usual talent and vigor and set a shocking target of 27 for the loss of 10 wickets in 15.4 over’s. With wickets being lost at the very first over, Nigeria was surely in for a predictable loss. It was only S. Okpe who made considerable runs with 13* off 33 balls (1:4’s). The Ghanaian bowling attack was brutal with only the first two bowlers taking all of the Nigerian wickets. AJ Adotei took 6 wickets for 19 runs in 7.4 over’s whilst J Aboagye took 4 wickets for 8 runs in 8 over’s.
“Ghana took to the chase with sheer confidence as it did not take them long to pass target. KM Awala made 15 runs off 8 balls (2:4’s) which accounted for just over half of the runs required for Ghana to win. Nigeria was just not in tune today as both of Nigeria’s bowlers could not get a wicket of Ghana’s. Ghana finished off the game in 4.3 over’s with 28 runs and no loss of wickets!
“Ghana certainly made their mark with an amazing 10 wicket win and remain undefeated in this event! " the ICC Africa report concluded.
Back then, the President of the Ghana Cricket Association (GCA), Dr. William Ampofo could not control his joy when delivering the news to the Ghanaian sporting fraternity:
“Beyond my greatest expectations, Nigeria collapsed spectacularly in the Ghana U19 final match. Nigeria 27 runs /10 wickets in 15.4 overs; Ghana 28 runs / 0 wickets in 4.3 overs. So Ghana wins the tournament. 6 matches. 6 wins,” an ecstatic Dr. Ampofo announced in an email to colleague federation heads.
The U-19s opened their campaign with a win over Botswana, before subsequently beating Sierra Leone, Zambia, Rwanda, and Tanzania enroot to the final in the seven day tournament.
The young national team not only secured qualification but also comprehensively scooped individual and team awards including the most valuable player of the tournament which was won by Joseph Aboagye. He was adjudged the Most Valuable Player of the tournament, having scored 72.98 overall in Batting, Bowling and Fielding.
Aboagye, who also won the Best Bowler Award, bowled 294 in 6 matches, given away 107 runs, taken 21 wickets, made 3 times of five wickets in a match, bowled 11 maidens with an average of 5.10 and Scoring Rate of 14.00.
The young cricketers also won 6-man of the match awards out of the 6 matches they played and of which Joseph Aboagye took 3.
The rest went to Joseph Oko Adotei, Aziz Sualley and Kelvin Marko Awala. Aboagye and Joseph Oko Odotei were named in the 12 man dream team of the tournament which was dominated by Sierra Leone and Nigeria with 3 players each.
The young Ghanaian team were spurred on by a small contingent of Ghanaians in the stands led by the Ghanaian Ambassador to South Africa, H. E. Kwesi Ahwoi, who was at the oval to support the team with fruits and drinks. H.E. Ahwoi also motivated the team to win the competition with his encouraging words.
Meanwhile, GCA President Dr. Ampofo has one wish for the team going into the ICC Division One tournament next year:
“Wonderful achievement but hope Ghana government will find some cash support for the immense preparations required for the next level - the Division One crucial qualifier in 2017 to make it to the Word Cup in 2018.”
The victory was made all the more remarkable because this is the second time that the U-19 team has qualified for the ICC Division One tournament.
Certainly, the team has shown that given the needed support and preparations, they will be ready to take on the world and make a mark at the ICC Division One tournament next year.
The Ghana Olympic Committee will like to congratulate the players, the technical handlers including Coach Francis Bakiweyem, Kwame Asare, Godfrey Kofi Tandoh and Team Manager Henry Benjamin Ackom and the GCA for this wonderful achievement.