15-year-old cricket Lilian Ude sensation eyes national team captaincy
After gaining her first call-up to the National Women’s Cricket Team, 15-year-old Lilian Ude looks forward to becoming captain of the team in the future.
Ude made the final squad for the maiden Nigeria Women T20 Invitational in Lagos State alongside 13 others, out of the 36 earlier invited.
She is in camp preparatory to the Invitational.
The teenager, whose performance at the recently-concluded National Under-17 Cricket Championship in Abuja earned her a place in the camp, said she was more determined than ever.
“I will continue to train, work very hard, and hope to play for Nigeria for a very long time and someday captain the team. I feel very happy to be a part of the national team.
“At first, when I got to camp, I was scared because I had to compete against the best in the country, but I was determined and was encouraged by those around me.
“I am happy to be part of the first14 but what will give me more happiness is to be in the first 11 that will play in the tournament.
“If I get that opportunity, I will contribute excellently in batting, bowling, fielding, and supporting my team to bring the victory home,’’ Ude told the News Agency of Nigeria in Lagos State on Sunday.
The player, who was introduced to the game of cricket three years ago, said her game had greatly improved and she hopes to inspire others.
“I have been in camp for more than three weeks now and my game has greatly improved.
“I see myself bowling more accurately and fielding better than I used to do. Training in camp has not been easy, but I am becoming a better cricketer.
“I believe that many people will be inspired by the opportunity I have been given and I know that this will make more people to get interested in cricket,’’ the teenager said.
Meanwhile, the team’s coach Onome Oghenekevwe said Ude’s inclusion in the national team was strategic.
“Her inclusion in the team is very strategic.
“She is one of the talents discoveries that we have seen over the years.
“During the National Youth Games in Ilorin in 2021, she was discovered from what she was able to do there and we already put down her name.
“So we were not surprised when the Southeast team arrived for the National U-17 tournament in Abuja and she did well.
“In the past few days, she has been able to muscle her way to make the final 14.
“She is coming in as a bowler; she is young and quick. She attacks the wicket more than some of her Under-17 peers, and even the experienced hands in the team,’’ Oghenekevwe said.
The tournament begins on Monday at the Tafawa Balewa Cricket Oval in Lagos State, with Rwanda, Ghana, The Gambia, and Sierra Leone participating.