African children improvise with a stick and a can, playing cricket in the bush. © Getty Images

Sierra Leone and Liberia have signed an agreement to coordinate the development of cricket in their countries and encourage their neighbours to take up the game, Emmanuel Pessima, the development officer for the Sierra Leone Cricket Association (SLCA), said on Monday.

The two nations had agreed “to coordinate cricket development activities” and encourage other countries in the Mano River Union – a four-nation bloc that also includes Guinea and Ivory Coast – to develop cricket programmes, said Pessima. Under the agreement, “the SLCA shall provide coaching and other resource assistance to Liberia including umpiring and groundmanship.”

Sierra Leone will also advise Liberia on how to produce cricket equipment and introduce the Liberian cricket team to other cricket-playing nations in Africa. The memorandum also calls for the “convening of biennial and annual conferences on a rotational basis and the launching of cricket series to be hosted rotationally for the Mano River Union trophy.”

Cricket was introduced to Sierra Leone, a former British coloney, by the British Artillery Forces based there in 1898, and the game has experienced a resurgence since the end of a civil war in 2002.

Sierra Leone has played in international tournaments with English-speaking countries in the sub-region as well as with Kenya, Namibia, Zambia and Tanzania. Liberia, a country established by freed American slaves, is not a traditional cricketing nation. Neither are Guinea and Ivory Coast, both former French colonies.