Sierra Leone’s cricketing dreamsViews: 3544
|Thursday December 20, 2012||PRINT THIS PAGE||SEND TO YOUR FRIEND|
Packed with hard red dirt overlooked by a faded scoreboard, Sierra Leone's only cricket oval is worlds away from the lush, carefully grassed grounds typically associated with the game.
Muddy water pools around the edges of Kingtom Oval after a downpour, as a rag-tag group of young men, women, and children barely big enough to hold a bat, gather to warm up for cricket practice.
But first: The daily battle of chasing teams of footballers off the pitch, a sign the football-mad nation, which zealously follows teams in the English Premier League, is not yet bowled over by the growing success of its cricketers.
"The footballers are here every time we want to play. Look at them! They are playing football right now whilst we are playing cricket!" says national team player Emmanuel Pessima, who is also chairman of the Kenemmanjane cricket club.
With the glaring footballers relegated to the outskirts of the field, the cricketers unfurl a strip of grubby green astro turf, torn in places, along a long slab of cement which forms the pitch.
While any fielder would think twice before diving and sliding to stop a cricket ball on such unforgiving terrain, it is from here that Sierra Leone's players have edged their way up in rankings on the African continent.