Nigeria U19 Cricket national team captain Sylvester Okpe says the Junior Yellow Greens can take some positives but have plenty room for improvement following their loss to Australia in their debut at the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup in South Africa.
The Junior Yellow Greens lost by 10 wickets as the three-time champions recorded an easy victory at the Diamond Oval in Kimberly on Monday.
Admitting that their opponents were generally better with the bat, Okpe, however, rued the inability of his teammates to apply themselves and play to their strengths.
“The Australians really bowled well,” Okpe said after the match, “and we the batters, I think we just went into our shells, and we were not expressing ourselves, and we got two early wickets which brought down the tempo of the game.”
The U19 captain didn’t believe that nervousness at playing at such a level played a part in their poor performance but admitted that the team were perhaps overwhelmed by the unfamiliarity of their surroundings and novelty of being debutants.
“I won’t say nerves played into that. I guess it’s just that the guys didn’t apply themselves really when they were fielding. I think they were not just comfortable with the environment and the weather, at that time they were still trying to get used to the weather, fielding under this weather,” he explained.
He, however, pointed to positives from the game and called on his teammates to be assertive in their subsequent matches.
“There are a lot of positives also that went into the fielding because some of the bowlers really bowled well and kept to their targets and bowled to plan. So I think if we keep bowling to plan and bowl to target, the fielders will also assist and we’ll get a better game next time.
“I’ll say from the batting side, the guys should just be more expressive and not get into their shells, because despite the fact that the Australians bowled really well, no one is a machine, so there’s a few loose balls that will be let go, but hopefully we’ll get back to the net, get more practice and try and express more against other teams, and just keep a positive mindset,” he concluded.
Nigeria next take on the West Indies on Wednesday and need a win to keep hopes of progress alive.