Returning to the global ICC stage after an absence of 18 years, Namibia impressed many cricket lovers with their performances. Not only did they register wins against the European triumvirate of Ireland, Netherlands and Scotland, they also made it out of the proverbial “Group of Death” to qualify for the Super 12s. And once there, the Namibians did enough against the likes of New Zealand, India and Pakistan to show that they belonged at the highest level.
These achievements are made even more remarkable when you consider the financial and resource disparities that Namibia is hampered by, in relation to other cricket nations. It is a sparsely populated desert country of 2.5 million people, where much of the player base is derived from the country’s minority white community (6% of total population) and where there are only five turf grounds.
In an interview on the Emerging Cricket Podcast, captain Gerhard Erasmus expressed a lot of pride and satisfaction with the Namibian team’s performances. While highlighting how playing at the World Cup has re-ignited interest for cricket in the country, Erasmus warned that the gains made are in risk of back sliding, if the team doesn’t get more opportunities to play at the elite level and develop further as cricketers.
“You get better the more you play across the world. It is as simple as that. I think that we showed across the tournament that our batters weren’t out of place with regards to facing these express 145 km/h + bowlers. You only really get to that level if you experience it. That’s always what the Associate nations have been crying out for. The more we get to see it and taste it, the more we know what it’s like.”
Bowling Machines are Not a Substitute for the Real Thing
Continuing on this topic, Erasmus also makes it clear that cranking up the bowling machine speeds in the nets is not adequate preparation for the physical and mental battles on the pitch.
“Yeah, there is a big difference between the two. The first obvious one is you know where the bowling machine is going to shoot at you. But you don’t know what a fast bowler like Lahiru Kumara is going to bowl at you. Secondly, it’s the skill that comes with it, the mind games between the bowler and batter. Lastly, it’s the pressure, in that there is a consequence to you facing the ball in a match. With the kind of quality attacks we faced at the World Cup, you simply cannot in any way replicate the experience in a net session,” he says.
The Wiese Impact
The discussion then turns to the impact that star player David Wiese had on the team’s fortunes. As anyone that watched Namibia will attest to, Super 12 qualification may not have been achieved without the two valuable innings of 66* (40) and 28* (14) that Wiese played against Netherlands and Ireland respectively, in partnership with Erasmus himself. It gave Namibia a clinical edge that they were lacking before.
“Wiese’s been awesome from the start. Once he came into the squad, he has been so willing to help everyone around him, with things like skills, planning etc. The best thing that we got from David at this tournament is to witness up close how he goes about his business playing these games. Things like how you operate at the highest level, how you drag an over back from a poor start and how you set up a batsman,” the skipper states.
“He’s going to be valuable for us going forward and guys will learn from him, which is great. JJ [Smit] will catch on from him; [Ruben] Trumpelmann was actually the leader of our attack this tour and he’s been working closely with David. It’s just a different level of conversation when someone is as experienced as he is,” he further adds.
The stats reveal that Wiese had a cracking tournament with both disciplines. Not only was he the highest scorer with 227 runs, but he did so at a strike rate of 127.52 (highest in the team for those who scored more than 50 runs). He also bowled his full quota of four overs in almost every game and picked up six wickets at an economy rate of 7.42.
2022 T20 World Cup Plans
For Cricket Namibia, the Super 12 Qualification at this World Cup has brought an added set of benefits. It guarantees them an automatic slot at next year’s T20 World Cup in Australia. Furthermore, they picked up a cool $190,000 USD in prizemoney, which amounts to around $2.9M in Namibian dollars. A cash injection like this will be crucial for the board to continue their development efforts and spread the game outside capital Windhoek, something that Erasmus reiterates he is very supportive of.
Regarding the T20 World Cup next year, the skipper strikes a positive note stating that he will most likely have the full contingent available to pick from again.
“Yeah, I am not aware of any retirements. He’s [Wiese] going to continuously play for Namibia over the next two years, he is very committed and always trying to avail himself for us. He has made those intentions very clear. And he’s been an awesome man for the team, so we don’t doubt that at all.”
Erasmus also says that there are a few things he would like to see the team get better at, to prepare for the 2022 World Cup.
“As a team there are a couple of areas, we can look to improve upon before next year’s World Cup in Australia. We still require specialist areas in our team that need to be filled up, such as at the top of our order and also death bowling in particular. We need to develop those skills in order to beat some of those better teams.”
As a team, Namibia have added a lot to this T20 World Cup and with all personnel available, it is quite likely that they will continue to impress next year in Australia.
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