Is There A Namibian Storm Headed For Australia?

Gerhard Erasmus Namibia
Gerhard Erasmus cuts in Namibia's T20 World Cup outing against India

All the way back in early 2003, an old pre-tournament supplement for the South African World Cup from a cricket magazine described the coming of a “Namibian storm.” The piece was of course to drum up interest for the upcoming ODI tournament across the groups and whet appetites. 

However Namibia’s performance in the competition never really matched up to the hype. Apart from a loss to England by 55 runs in Port Elizabeth where they pushed them tight to the very end, Namibia would go on to lose their wooden spoon match against the Netherlands by 64 runs, as well as being bowled out for totals such as 45 and 84. Glen McGrath would also take 7-15 against them.

19 years later with the Australian T20 World Cup about to start, the situation couldn’t be more different. At the previous edition they seriously impressed, beating fellow associate Scotland and a test nation in Ireland to qualify for the next round which gave them immediate qualification for this latest edition in Australia. And it wasn’t just the results that impressed, it was also individual performances from Ruben Trumpelman, captain Gerhart Erasmus and of course their star performer David Weise who many will know from the T20 league circuit.

Weise brings a lot to the Associate side since declaring for the side after his earlier career briefly with South Africa. There’s his explosive batting, his bowling, his experience of playing all around the world in various high standard leagues but also his confidence and backing he gives to the rest of the squad. This was a quality which definitely helped them to stand out against a team like Ireland who never quite got their tactics right and would fail to progress out of their group in the opening stages of the tournament. In stark contrast, Namibia seemed to religiously believe in simple plans and absolutely mastering low percentage options.

What were these plans? Getting solid totals on the board. Tying up opponents with their battery of left arm seamers. Weise’s flashing blade, and clever death bowling. Gerhart Erasmus would describe their team as ‘a tight ship’, leading Jarrod Kimber to go even further and call it “the good ship Namibia.” Where would they sail next?

Namibia’s success at the previous T20 World Cup will have to be put behind them. Simple plans with hard grafted totals, and squeezing out opponents in the field certainly worked a treat in a place like Sharjah against a team like Ireland. Will this work at the MCG? It certainly did in the warm up game where they beat Ireland by 11 runs just along similar lines as the famous Sharjah win the year before.

It may of course be too early to say too much about how Namibia will fare this time. But Ireland have certainly rejigged their approach since crashing out of last year’s tournament. There’s a new coach in Heinrich Malan, a spin coach in Nathan Hauritz, some new faces, more focus on their bowling roles and how this will work in Australian conditions, and an overall more attacking approach. There is the possibility off spinner Simi Singh may feature only on a wearing Hobart pitch against West Indian left handers but such is the planning required for a successful campaign on pitches in Australia.

Namibia only bowled two overs of spin during that warm up win. Different tactics from their last campaign, but they would always have to be different this time around. Now they will need bigger totals on bouncier, truer wickets. Higher strike rates will be expected, and some more aggressive cricket required.

It’s been an incredible white ball run since regaining their ODI status. But now Namibia will have to repeat the trick they performed in the last T20 World Cup. All of their planning for the last tournament showed some extremely concise thinking. You’d have to expect something like that again from their management team in Pierre de Bruyn assisted by Albie and Morne Morkel, from Erasmus and from Weise. 

Having played a T20 tri-series with the Lahore Qalandars from the PSL as well as the Imperial Lions from South Africa, that trademark planning has definitely been in the works, but what can we expect. A Namibian storm headed for Australia? The other teams in Group A would be foolish to treat them lightly. 

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