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The Lagos League 2008-09 season in Nigeria commenced in November with some intriguing contests. First, Federal Government College Warri CC (FGCW) emerged with an exciting squad including the likes of Roland Ilube (ex-national team & London Nigerians CC of London), Femi Olayiwole, Oboh Omoigui, Ameh Edebor (all ex-Cosmo players).
Rocks CC are now back in Division 1 with their mature but relatively young team who have been playing together for a while now. Ibeju-Lekki CC (ILCC) have introduced a second team to the league competing in Division II and who expect to be challenging for the title.
The grand old warriors, Foundation CC (FCC), lost most of their younger players to other teams and their registration list for this season features an array of veterans, quite a few of whom had hung up their boots a few years ago. The champions for last season, Lagos Asians CC commenced training several weeks ahead of the start of the season to demonstrate their serious intention to retain the championship.
There was a significant change to the points system for the League standing. In recognition of the standard of play having improved significantly and following calls to de-emphasise individual performances as recognized by the old performance-rewarding points system and also to fall in line with global practice, the points reward system was restructured to award 4 points for wins and a bonus point if the win was achieved with a specified margin.
With the foregoing, the picture that emerged is one of Rocks CC, Government College Ibadan OB CC (GCIOB) and Lagos Asians CC (LACC) challenging strongly for the championships whilst everyone pondered whether the heavens would fall if FCC were relegated to Division II.
Despite some delays, resulting from scheduling conflicts over the use of the grounds, the league matches commenced mid-November and after 4 rounds the league tables reflect the total unpredictability of cricket.
Whilst Rocks CC are currently heading the Division 1 league table having won all their matches so far, FCC have demonstrated great resilience by giving Rocks CC a great run for their money during their match and are currently in second place while ILCC are third-placed. LACC are currently placed fourth whilst GCIOB CC are placed fifth with Pioneers CC at the bottom of the league.
In Division II which now has 8 teams with the introduction of the Nigerian Cricket Federation (NCF) U-19 and the ILCC B teams, FGCW have emerged top contenders for the Division II title and currently top the league having secured bonus points in all their matches played to date. The experience and skills of the new additions to their squad is manifesting and has given them a significant edge over other teams.
Indo-Pakistan CC are second-placed with ILCC B coming third. British International School (BIS) CC the “United Nations” of the league has started well compared to previous seasons and is currently placed fourth in Division II.
Unilag CC, Ibadan Metro CC, Howzat Dolphins CC and NCF U-19 CC make up the rest of Division II and whilst quite a few of their matches are outstanding due to late registration of NCF U-19 CC, the Division II battle promises to be just as exciting with each of these teams believing they have a fair chance to challenge for the title and return to Division I next season. Time and Cricket will tell!
The Lagos First Division ladder as at 14.12.08 was: Rocks CC 14, Foundation CC 9, Ibeju Lekki CC 9, Lagos Asians CC 4, Government College Ibadan Old Boys, Pioneers 0 POINTS TABLE - as at 14/12/08
Will Luke is assistant editor of ESPNcricinfo