Player diaries October 6, 2008

Cricket takes the spotlight in Tanzania

Today is the rest day in the World Cricket League and teams now have a better idea of what they need to do if they are going to progress in this competition

Hamisi Abdallah

Today is the rest day in the World Cricket League and teams now have a better idea of what they need to do if they are going to progress in this competition.

After a fantastic win against Jersey on Saturday, we (Tanzania) were a bit disappointed to lose yesterday to Hong Kong who was an excellent team. There was a great crowd at that game and there has been lots of interest from the media on a daily basis; cricket has been back page news for the past fortnight which doesn’t always happen here.

Cricket in Tanzania is going from strength to strength and it is a sign of how far that we have come that we can stage this tournament, having held an ICC Africa event here back in 2006.

I play my cricket in Dar Es Salaam, where I work for the Tanzania Cricket Association as a Development Officer, and there is a thriving cricket community with the A league having two divisions, with 15 teams in total and four grounds with turf wickets.

But cricket is also popular in other areas as well and our national side is made up of players from across the country.

Lots of people used to think that only Indians played cricket in Tanzania, but the efforts of the national association to spread the games into schools, which is where I first experienced playing the game, means that the sport is popular amongst black Africans as well.

When I go into the schools and see the talent that is coming up, particularly those guys who come for extra coaching at our Academy, then the future is certainly looking very bright. At the opening ceremony of the event, over 100 children from the local cricket programme had the opportunity to showcase their skills to a watching audience, and I think everybody was very impressed by what they saw.

I spent my morning today going to visit a project run by the Tanzanian Youth Coalition, along with a player or representative from the other five teams, which provides an opportunity for young people in Tanzania to receive education.

The visit was part of the ICC’s partnership with UNAIDS and UNICEF on AIDS awareness, which is a big problem in Tanzania. It was great for the other players to have an opportunity to see a different side to my country and the great work that charities do here.

I don’t think many people at the centre had ever met anybody from the likes of Jersey, Afghanistan or Hong Kong either. Tomorrow the attention will go back on the cricket and it is a massive game for us against Afghanistan who has won their first two matches.

We have played against them in a warm-up match and I can’t wait to try and get another victory in this tournament. We just need to focus on the basics and I think we have a good chance of beating Afghanistan.

Hamisi Abdallah is the Tanzania allrounder, one of a number of players blogging for Cricinfo their experience of the World Cricket League in Tanzania

Will Luke is assistant editor of ESPNcricinfo