After a tricky start to year for both he and his team, Namibian men’s captain Gerhard Erasmus feels the upcoming five-match T20I series with Zimbabwe provides the ideal assessment.
Looking to peak for Australia 2022, the matches have huge significance for 2024 qualification, with automatic spots based on rankings at the mid-November cut-off.
“I think we have a great opportunity. I think we will gain a lot of confidence from the series if we play well,” Erasmus told icc-cricket.com and Emerging Cricket.
“We can match up very well against them (Zimbabwe) and hopefully some of the results on our side as well.”
The Eagles will play close to a full strength side given the circumstances, though Erasmus is eager to ensure the side is ready for First Round action in October first and foremost.
“They’re probably important games as well for the result in respect to the results with ranking points being talked about quite a lot now for the next World Cup, but I still think our main focus, is to know where we’re at in the moment, and in the moment, we have to build up really nicely to the T20 World Cup (in Australia).”
Erasmus personally hasn’t exactly enjoyed the start to 2022.
Even with the success and positive press at the T20 World Cup in spite of a broken finger sustained in the tournament build-up, it’s been a tough road to a full recovery, breaking bones in his hand in League 2 action and again in the recent meeting with Uganda.
The skipper admits the struggles of injury and the workload have affected him, and knows full well that future, recurring problems do not bode well for the long term.
“It’s been a really frustrating period personally. Obviously with the big break of the knuckle before the World Cup, it didn’t do me any favours to continue on to play.
“Then you think about and start questioning yourself. You start questioning your career, you start questioning whether you’re going to be able to perform again on the right levels.
“I don’t think there’s any longevity in that. Hopefully I can stay on the park now and hopefully it doesn’t keep me out again.”
For the team, backing up such a successful campaign was always going to be difficult. Moving to the 50-over League 2 action, with a target on their back and with strong opposition hot on their heels, they claimed just two wins in their last five ODIs, sliding to fourth on the table. Then, with injuries, workload management and a rotation of players, the Eagles dropped a game in each of the three-match T20I and One Day series against Uganda.
The results are far from disastrous, though the Namibians hold high standards. Erasmus describe the period “a little disappointing” while others in the same position would likely be more lenient.
“We haven’t performed as brilliantly as we’ve done over the last three years, we haven’t been at those standards in the last six months.
“But, there has been lots of good things coming from it as well. Player development, getting into a deeper squad. Some individuals putting up their hands with great centuries and making their careers grow in the right direction.”
All-rounders Divan la Cock and Dylan Leicher are two players to be named in the squad for the Zimbabwean series off the back of solid outings during the year, and both are tipped to contribute in some respect over the course of the five matches.
In other squad news, Stephen Baard misses the series through injury, while the team is boosted by the return of both Erasmus and gloveman Zane Green.
1st T20I: May 17
2nd T20I: May 19
3rd T20I: May 21
4th T20I: May 22
5th T20I May 24
All matches at the Queens Sports Club in Bulawayo at 13:00 local time.
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