Sierra Leone war puts in doubt WACCQ participation

This year's West Africa Cricket Conference Quadrangular tournament may be transformed into a triangular tournament through the possible withdrawal of defending champion Sierra Leone.

Sierra Leone's participation in the event to be held in Gambia from May 19-27 is doubtful due to a civil war presently racking the country.

Ghana and Nigeria are the remaining teams in the event which was first held in 1976.

Meanwhile, cricket in Gambia maintains a tenuous existence as it battles waning popularity and deteriorating facilities.

"Here cricket used to be the national sport. Now football has taken over," Gambia Cricket Association secretary and West Africa Cricket Conference chairman, Mr. Sonny Manly-Rollings said.

"Pitches have been dug up where cricket used to be played and now they play football there."

Equipment and facilities are also a problem, with the pitches comprising matting laid over concrete strips. "We only have two mats and they are five or six years old," Mr. Manly-Rollings said. "We would be very grateful for any equipment that could be sent."

Cricket is mainly played at the Medical Research Institute ground in Banjul.

There are two active teams in Gambia, the Gomez XI, captained by Johnny Gomez, and the Abel's XI, skippered by Abel Thomas. Gomez has captained the Gambian national team for the past eight years.

These teams play occasional matches against each other and visiting teams, which provide a lifeline for Gambian cricket. The last notable visiting team was the Leybourne C.C, from Kent, last year and the Gambia C.A. is keen for more.

Mr. Manly-Rollings said he was hopeful things would improve, with a visit late last year by the Africa Cricket Association Development Officer, Mr Hoosain Ayob, possibly providing the impetus for junior development.