MASERU – Lesotho’s national cricket coach Lekoatsa Chaka says his side has to play more matches against top-class opposition to build on their promising performance at the recent International Cricket Council (ICC) Africa Regional Division 3 T20 Tournament.
Lesotho finished a commendable third at the tournament which was held in Ghana.
In the end Lesotho missed out on the final by one run after losing to eventual winners Rwanda in the opening game because of a technicality.
Lesotho followed up the defeat by beating Cameroon by eight wickets and then overpowering Morocco by 17 runs in the playoff for third place.
According to Chaka, Lesotho needs to play against more established cricket nations if it is to improve its game.
“We have to challenge teams like Kenya; we have to try to play Zimbabwe, Ghana and Zambia if we are to improve.It doesn’t help to play against teams that don’t give us a challenge,” Chaka said.
Lesotho is still one of the ICC’s affiliate nations, the lowest tier in the system.
Rwanda’s tournament win means Lesotho and Gambia are the only countries to have remained affiliates for the past six years.
The performance however was an improvement on the last tournament in Malawi in 2009 where Lesotho finished last.
In addition Thabiso Mohapi, Sarfaraj Patel and Munshi Sajid received man-of-the-match awards in Ghana.
“The fact that we had a man of the match in each match shows that our game was attractive and of a high standard,” Chaka said.
“I see a road ahead; we managed to come from being last in the last tournament to finishing third.”
Chaka added that sponsors Lesotho Sugar Packers had played a big part in the team’s success.
“The more we go to people and the more we play well, the more sponsors we will hopefully attract to help cricket grow.
“Right now we have received an invitation to go play in the Easterns Tournament in South Africa,” Chaka said.
For his part Lesotho’s captain, Ralintši Semphane, who plays for NUL Vampires in the cricket top-flight, said there also has to be a focus on improving the standard of the league.
There are currently six teams in the cricket premier league.
“At the moment there are not many teams in the league, there are only six. We need more teams and more competition,” Semphane said.
“We also have to start at the development level to put the mindset of cricket into the players from a young age.”