Cricket in the small southern African country of Lesotho is currently experiencing something of a reincarnation. As has been the case for many years, the game centres around the Asian and European expatriate population.
Geographically it has spread to the centres of Maseru, Leribe and Buthe Buthe and the lowlands in a season which lasts from August to April.
However, politics have plagued cricket at the senior level and the only adult cricket this season will be played by four social teams against sides from across the border, in South Africa. Presently the racial composition of adult players in Lesotho is 65% South Asian, 25% European and 10% Basutho.
The Lesotho Cricket Association sees its future in the development of the game amongst the Basotho youth. Already, the LCA has 1500-2000 children playing the game thanks to a programme which has received extensive help from the International Cricket Council's African development officer, Hoosain Ayob.
Realising not all children want to play soccer, the present game of choice of Lesotho's youngsters, the LCA and Ayob are working hard to increase the number of coaches spreading cricket at the junior level.
"Our youth program of development and the training of coaches at schools and clubs is our biggest success story," LCA official, Terry Fraenkel, said.
The LCA has received an enormous boost with a Lesotho government decision to make their sports organisers available to cricket.
"These young men and women are attending Mr. Ayob's courses. It is very encouraging to see the enthusiasm with which they approach all types of sport," Mr Fraenkel added.
Such has been the success of the inclusion of the sports organisers in the development programme, that two now sit on the Executive Committee of the LCA. As a result of their involvement, junior softball cricket leagues and hardball leagues have commenced, as well as the formation of a coaches' cricket club.
Further proof of the success of the development process is the work of Machabeng College's Grant Peacock, who has already uncovered a 16-year-old, 6ft 5in. boy who bowls at approximately 120-130 kms per hour. Although only commencing the game two years ago, he will make his senior grade debut this year.
The cream of the programme will hopefully get a chance to show their skills at the African under 15 titles in Zambia next month, However, this depends on whether sufficient funds can be raised.
Finance, not enthusiasm, is the major impediment to the LCA's junior development. "At present all our efforts are being seriously slowed down by the lack of facilities and cricket kit," Fraenkel lamented.
Although Kookaburra South Africa has generously donated some equipment, the LCA is distributing kit faster than it can raise the money to purchase replacement stock.
Furthermore, for the LCA to be able to facilitate its expansion programme, it will need to build one astroturf pitch each in five centres in the next 12 months. One alone will cost the LCA around US$4500. At the moment, the LCA will not be able to afford even one.
Presently, there is one astroturf pitch and nets at Maseanokeng High School as well as three nets and a matting pitch at Machabeng College. The schools play their cricket on soccer fields, and the junior clubs on any open ground that they can find.
Should you be interested in helping the Lesotho Cricket Association financially, please e-mail the Editor of this page.