What a brilliant start to the T20 World Cup we’ve had so far! The first week of the event highlighted the increased competitiveness in global cricket; delivering upsets, thrills, spills and memorable moments in spades. ICC’s T20I rankings system was upended with Namibia thrashing Sri Lanka and both Ireland and Scotland walloping the West Indies. It is easily the most exciting start to an ICC event in living memory and thankfully, also heralds the end of the flawed first round “qualifiers” format. The T20 World Cup in 2024 is set to feature 20 teams in a 4×5 group format.
Importantly, all four Associate nations featuring at the event picked up at least one win each, with Netherlands progressing to the Super 12 round. With Namibia, UAE and Scotland packing their bags and heading home, Emerging Cricket reviews how the teams performed at the tournament.
Rating – 6
This T20 World Cup was utter heartbreak for Namibia and highlighted the sheer unpredictability of the format as well as tournament cricket. On a high after their stunning defeat of Sri Lanka in the tournament opener, Namibia subsequently failed to qualify for the Super 12 stage after successive narrow defeats against Netherlands and UAE.
It was an astonishing turnaround for a side which had shattered expectations by thrashing the Sri Lankans and picking up a sizable net run rate boost in the process. While the follow-up loss to the Dutch exposed some weaknesses, the Eagles still only required a win going into their last group game against the Emiratis to qualify. And that’s when things unravelled.
UAE overcame a sedate start to inch their way to a total of 148/3, courtesy of Muhammad Waseem’s half century and late hitting by captain CP Rizwan and Basil Hameed. JJ Smit’s last over went for 21 runs which ultimately proved to be the difference and which David Wiese’s late innings batting heroics failed to overcome.
Namibia’s top four batters had a dreadful tournament collectively, scoring 112 runs at an average of 10.2. Captain Gerhard Erasmus fared little better with an average of 17 and highest score of 20. The failures at the top resulted in an overreliance on the big hitting, middle order allrounders to enact rescue jobs in each of the group games. JJ Smit had a day out against Sri Lanka, while Wiese hit a spirited fifty against UAE in a losing cause. It was particularly heartbreaking to see the lion-haired veteran inconsolable after the match. Meanwhile, Jan Frylinck continued his emergence as a genuine batting option; scoring 101 runs at the tournament.
The three all-rounders also took three wickets each with the ball. Elsewhere, Bernard Scholtz’s tidy left-arm orthodox spinners nabbed him four scalps while Ben Shikongo chipped in with three wickets, despite bowling just five overs in total. Ruben Trumpelmann, Namibia’s star bowler at last year’s T20 World Cup, only played a solitary group game after missing the first two due to injury.
For highlights, you can’t go past Shikongo’s sensational double wicket maiden over in the first game against Sri Lanka. That over ripped the heart out of the Lankan top order and put the 22 year old pacer firmly on the global cricketing map. Jan Frylinck’s emergence as the third big hitting allrounder of the squad is also a big positive.
The Eagles’ top order batting remains a problem area. None of Michael van Lingen, Divan La Cock or Jan-Nicol Loftie Eaton have yet realised their potential and replicated their domestic performances on the international stage. While, 30-year-old Baard has previously tasted some success in Namibian colours, he had a fairly average tournament as well. Going forward, this is something that the team needs to fix urgently in order to fully capitalise on fielding restrictions in the Powerplay overs.
Additionally, the Eagles missed a trick by batting too slow against the Dutch and holding back JJ Smit and Wiese on the bench, until it was far too late in the innings. When the duo eventually strode out to the crease, they faced a combined tally of only 9 balls, making 16 runs in the process.
Through to page two for Scotland and UAE’s reviews and ratings