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Cricket was introduced into and first played in Nigeria by British colonial administrators in the 19th century. Later on, English missionaries and army personnel added impetus to the spread of the game. The first recorded international cricket match involving Nigeria was against the Gold Coast (now Ghana) in 1904.
Nigeria Cricket Association (expatriates) was formed in 1932 while the indigenous cricketers responded with a Nigeria Cricket Association (indigenous) in 1933. In 1951, a joint board of control was inaugurated in Lagos with each association retaining its identity. Nigeria Cricket Association (NCA), an amalgamation of both expatriate and indigenous bodies, eventually evolved in 1957 and the name was changed to Nigeria Cricket Federation (NCF) in 2006.
Nigeria initiated the move to form a sub-regional body in the early 60s, which culminated in the inaugural meeting of cricket playing countries in West Africa in Freetown, Sierra Leone in May 1965, and the formation of West Africa Cricket Federation (WACF) with headquarters in Nigeria. In 1976, WACF evolved into West Africa Cricket Conference (WACC). Nigeria was granted Associate Membership of the ICC in 2002.
Subsequent to its first recorded international match in 1904, Nigeria and its neighbour Ghana have played each other on numerous occasions. In 1959, Rex Akpofure made history by becoming the first Nigerian to captain a joint Nigerian team (expatriates and locals) in a series against Ghana. Prior to that, in 1954, a match between Nigeria and Ghana was played to mark the golden jubilee of cricket relations between both countries in which the Nigerian team was captained by Eddy Hughes (a Nigerian).
In 1964, Nigeria expanded its international horizon by establishing contact with the Gambia and Sierra Leone. WACC was formed in 1965 and a quadrangular tournament featuring the four West African countries of Gambia, Ghana, Nigeria and Sierra Leone commenced in 1976 with Nigeria being the pioneer host. Nigeria won the first 10 editions of the WACC Quadrangular from 1976 to 1997.
The Nigerian team toured East Africa in 1973 over six weeks, playing in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Zambia. The team won two, lost two and drew six international matches during the tour but won most of the friendly matches. In February 1974, a return tour was undertaken by Tanzania to Nigeria. The earliest exposure of Nigerians to cricket in the UK was organised in the 1950s and 1960s by Unilever (UK) in co-operation with colonial civil servants, company staff on vacation and Nigerian students or summer visitors in the UK.
In later developments, the NCA sent players on training tours of England in 1975, 1981 and 1990. During these visits, players trained at the Alf Gover Cricket School and Lord's, while also playing friendlies. The Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) has visited Nigeria on three occasions, in 1976, 1994 and 2004. In 1976, the MCC won all its matches convincingly; however in 1994, it experienced its first defeat in West Africa, losing once to an inspired Nigerian team on 19th January by three wickets in the first of a two-match series. In more recent times, from 2000, Nigeria has taken part in the ACA tournaments as well as the Pepsi ICC World Cricket League Division 7 ? in which it will next compete in 2011.
The major senior domestic competitions are as follows:
1) Club Cricket Committee (CCC) League features 12 clubs in two divisions of six each and is played in Lagos.
2) Club Cricket Committee (CCC) Super 4 tournament features the first four clubs in division 1 of the CCC league playing a round-robin format after the league.
3) Edo State league features four clubs who play a double round-robin league format in Benin City, Edo State.
4) North-West league features two clubs who feature in a play-off for the qualifier for the National Club Championship.
5) South-East league features three clubs who engage in a play-off for the National Club Championship.
6) National Club Cricket Championship was revived after an absence of 10 years and pits the winners of the above four leagues against each other on a knockout basis.
7) The Nigeria University Games (NUGA) features cricket and in the last edition, eight universities competed, with the University of Lagos winning the gold medal.
8) The National Sports Festival also features cricket and is competed for by state teams once in two years.
The major junior domestic competitions are as follows: 1) Howzat Lagos Junior Cricket Tournament for Sterling Bank Cup
2) Howzat National Junior six-a-side cricket tournament for Stanbic Cup
3) Howzat National Junior Cricket Super League for Phillip Asiodu Trophy
4) Howzat Lagos Colts Cricket League
5) National Secondary Schools Tournament