Photo Credit: Cricket Namibia
Fresh from a memorable performance at last year’s ICC Men’s T20 World Cup, Namibia are looking to build on their momentum and spring a few more surprises in Australia.
The Eagles qualified for the Super 12, beating Scotland in Group 2, in the UAE 12 months ago after coming through a tough first round group by overcoming Ireland and the Netherlands.
They renew hostilities with the latter in the first round of this year’s competition, along with Sri Lanka and the UAE, and will be confident of repeating their 2021 display as they look to test themselves against world’s leading nations once more.
Again led by Gerhard Erasmus, the experienced 16-man squad has a familiar look to it and Namibia will be hoping for more big performances from talisman David Wiese and paceman Ruben Trumpelmann, both of whom played key roles last time out.
Namibia Cricket chief executive Johan Muller hailed the country’s 2021 performances as having “a significant impact on interest, exposure and the growth for the game in Namibia” and they have taken steps to ensure it does not become a flash in the pan.
A link-up with Pakistan Super League (PSL) champions Lahore Qalandars has seen four Namibian players training with the Qalandars academy while a T20 tri-series, also including South Africa’s Lions, has formed part of their World Cup preparation.
Namibia showed they are a force to be reckoned with in the shortest international format by beating Zimbabwe 3-2 in a five-match series in May, with the same opponents and Ireland lying in wait in warm-up matches before the competitive action gets underway.
With a coaching team containing both Morkel brothers, Albie (assistant coach) and Morne (bowling consultant) supporting head coach Pierre de Bruyn, Namibia have global tournament expertise to guide them and they will fancy their chances of advancing from the first round.
Men’s T20 WC history
What made Namibia’s performances in the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021 all the more impressive was the fact it was their debut at the tournament.
Having featured in the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup in 2003, Namibia were absent from a global showpiece event for 18 years before heading to the UAE.
An opening seven-wicket defeat against Sri Lanka saw them needing to win both remaining matches to qualify for the Super 12 stage and they did just that, Wiese blasting an unbeaten 66 to see them past Netherlands before Erasmus made a half-century of his own to steer the successful chase against Ireland.
The Eagles’ Super 12 highlight came against Scotland, when Trumpelmann became the first bowler to take three wickets in the first over of an T20I to set up a four-wicket win.
They found life tougher in their other five matches but gained valuable experience against the world’s best, while qualifying for the Super 12 in the first place was enough to secure their place in Australia this year.
It is hard to look past Wiese as Namibia’s main man with the bat. The 37-year-old averaged 45.40 at in last year’s ICC Men’s T20 World Cup and has continued to impress in short-format competitions across the globe since, striking at over 182 for Northern Superchargers in The Hundred during the English summer.
Fellow veteran Craig Williams impressed in the series win over Zimbabwe while captain Erasmus remains a reliable source of runs, striking back-to-back half-centuries against USA and Papua New Guinea in recent 50-over matches.
This tournament could also see Namibia’s young batters make a name for themselves. Jan Nicol Loftie-Eaton, 21, has four ODI half-centuries to his name in 14 innings while 19-year-old Divan la Cock showed his promise with 66 from 43 balls against Zimbabwe earlier this year.
Trumpelmann seized the headlines with his eye-catching display against Scotland last year and his performances have helped him earn a deal with Desert Vipers in the upcoming International League T20.
He is joined in the attack by Jan Frylinck, who finished as Namibia’s leading wicket-taker with nine scalps in last year’s ICC Men’s T20 World Cup and has an impressive career T20I economy rate of 6.62.
Paceman Tangeni Lungameni is gearing up for his ICC Men’s T20 World Cup debut at the age of 30, Wiese’s medium pace will again prove a useful asset while spin options are provided by Bernard Scholtz and Pikky Ya France.
Namibia begin their Group A campaign against Sri Lanka on October 16 before taking on the Netherlands two days later, with the clash against the UAE concluding their first round fixtures on October 20. All three matches are in Geelong’s Kardinia Park.
Namibia v Sri Lanka, October 16 – Geelong (3pm local time)
Namibia v Netherlands, October 18 – Geelong (3pm local time)
Namibia v UAE, October 20 – Geelong (7pm local time)