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Where is Cricket Most Popular in Africa?


Cricket came to Africa due to British presence around the 18th and 19th centuries. Despite the sport’s longevity, it’s yet to gain prominence compared to sports like football, rugby and athletics. That said, several countries participate in the sport and have a considerable rate of success in it. These are the African countries where cricket is most popular. 

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South Africa

Where is Cricket Most Popular in Africa?
South African cricket player Temba Bavuma. Image Source: Instagram licensed under CC BY 2.0

South Africa is one of the most successful countries in cricket. It has a long history of participation in international, continental and local tournaments. The first match ever played dates back to 1808. In 1843, the oldest cricket club in South Africa, the Port Elizabeth Cricket Club, was formed. 

From then, the game spread to the inner communities and in 1876, Port Elizabeth organised a tournament between the towns. These practices lay a solid foundation for the sport in the country. Over the years, South Africa emerged as a competitive cricket nation. That said, its momentum was derailed after it was kicked out of the sport due to apartheid policies.

South Africa was reinstated in 1991 and was renamed from Springboks to the Proteas. The first country it played after the return was India. They quickly became elite and attended their first World Cup in 1992. The team hasn’t been able to win the title. However, the team was ranked first in the world in 2007.

Some of the most popular cricketers in South Africa include Quinton de Kock, Temba Bavuma, Hashim Amla, AB De Villiers and Kagiso Rabada, among others. 

At home, South Africa has a vibrant cricket scene. Some of their competitions include MTN Limited Overs Cup, Standard Bank Pro20 Series and the Supersport Series.

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Where is Cricket Most Popular in Africa?
Zimbabwe Cricket team player at the Cricket World Cup. Image Source: Instagram licensed under CC BY 2.0

Zimbabwe’s political upheavals have greatly interfered with cricket. They seemingly had a great start with its admission to the International Cricket Council (ICC) in 1992 and playing a test match against India. 

All that unravelled with the government’s interference in the sport. Picking players based on their race saw the retirement of several high-profile players and, consequently, a dip in their international status.

Even so, the country retained its ICC status and has done well in its events. In 1999, they finished 5th in the Cricket World Cup. In 2007, it secured the 9th spot in the T20 World Cup

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Cricket in Zambia

 Cricket has a growing presence in Zambia. It was introduced in the country in 1900. During its early years, expatriates largely played the game due to the exclusion of black people by the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland.

In 1964, the Zambia Cricket Union (ZCU)came into being and opened up to the population. Its national team played its first-ever international game in 1968 against Kenya. 

Over the years, the  ZCU has introduced cricket to institutions to popularise it. They have managed to do this to a certain degree but efforts continue.

That said, Zambia has developed national teams across different age groups; U13, U15, U17 and U19. In 2003, they became the International Cricket Council (ICC) members. The following year, it hosted the Africa Cup Cricket Tournament and qualified for an ICC-sanctioned event. 

Other African countries where cricket is played include Tanzania, Kenya, Namibia, Nigeria and Botswana, but it’s not as popular. 

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