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Namibia Were the Success Story of the World Cup

Filed under: Latest News,Sports |
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Namibia might not have won the 2021 T20 World Cup, but the cricket they played bodes well for the future. Find out more here.  

Cricket is an insular sport – with just 12 Test-playing nations and changes to the format of the ODI World Cup, there are not many opportunities to watch the small cricketing nations show off their skills. The T20 World Cup is one of the few tournaments where you can see associate teams take on the best teams and players in the world. When associate teams play at the big events, they can cause upsets, such as when the Netherlands beat England in 2009 and when Kenya made it to the semi-finals in 2003.

The 2021 World Cup was Namibia’s Time to Shine

The 2021 World Cup was Namibia’s time to capture the attention of cricket fans around the world as they qualified for the Super 12 stage of tournament and then won their first match against Scotland. Before this tournament, Namibia had only ever played at one major cricket competition, the 2003 World Cup, and they lost all of their games.

They might have only won one game in the Super 12 stage, but they were not embarrassed when they took on the likes of India, New Zealand, and Afghanistan. Not many people who like to do some betting on cricket would have put money on Namibia making it to the Super 12s stage.

However, the CEO of Cricket Namibia, Johan Muller, was not surprised by his team’s showing in the United Arab Emirates, and he is eagerly looking forward to seeing them compete in future competitions. The fact that Namibia reached the Super 12s stage of the 2021 World Cup means that they have already qualified for the First Round of the 2022 T20 World Cup that will take place in Australia at the end of next year.  They might only have 18 players to choose from, but the likes of David Wiesse, Craig Williams, Jan Frylinck, and Gerhard Erasmus are all top-quality players as they recently showed.

A Lot of Hard Work to Get Where There Are Today

With cricket dwindling in popularity in Namibia, Muller and the Namibian Cricket Board came up with a strategic plan back in 2019 to try and turn around cricket’s fortune in the country. Muller, who has a South African cricket background, used knowledge of Australian domestic cricket to give his team goals to aim for. They organised competitions at home to help the team prepare well on the field, and it is clear what this practice has done when it comes to their performances.

Their coach, Pierre De Bruyn had an even greater challenge. He became the head coach of Namibia towards the end of 2018, and he took charge of a team that was marred by disunity and unhappy with the performances that they had been putting in. Back in 2018, they lost a match to Botswana, which shows how far they had fallen. However, their performances throughout the 2021 T20 Cricket World Cup has shown that this is long behind them.

Both Muller and De Bruyn see their team’s current success as a big testament to the character of the players. Up until recently, Namibian cricketers had to work in other jobs so that they could make ends meet, and De Bruyn thinks that this has played a huge part in where they are today.

A Need to Develop More Players

Muller is hopeful that the money earned from the team’s success at the World Cup can help more players in Namibia turn professional, as more competition for places will only lead to more success on the field. The challenge for Namibian cricket is that many school leavers go to South Africa and never return, so it is a challenge for them to hold on to talent.

Developing and nurturing young talent in Namibia has been a main focus for Muller, but cricket is still inaccessible to many in Namibia. Despite having a large black population, the Namibian team is mostly white. Muller knows that this needs to change and feels that it is behind the scenes and will carry on doing so as Namibian cricket gets more exposure thanks to good performances at major cricket tournaments.

Cricket is Not the Most Popular Sport in Namibia

Namibia was colonised by Germans, not by the British like neighbouring Zimbabwe, so this means that cricket is pretty much a secondary sport in the country. Football is a lot more popular in Africa because you only need a field and a ball to play it. Cricket in Namibia is still seen as one of those sports for the elite – there are just five cricket clubs in the country, and four of these are in the capital city of Windhoek. However, Muller is confident that the team’s success at the T20 2021 World Cup will help to change this.

Erasmus, the captain of the team, feels the same and believes that cricket will carry on growing in Namibia and will eventually become representative of the country as a whole. He said that when they take to the field, their goal is to try and inspire youngsters to take up cricket. They want to develop a type of cricket that people back home are excited to watch, which will then inspire people of all backgrounds to play cricket.

Pikky Ya France was their only black cricketer in their win over Scotland, and he too believes that their success at this World Cup will inspire cricketing change in his country. He revealed that they were flooded with messages from people back home, and he truly believes that they have inspired a nation and have made a difference.

Looking Ahead to Australia 2022

Muller is looking forward to next year’s World Cup already, and believes that Namibia will have a pretty consistent team since many of their players are younger than 26. De Bruyn feels that if Namibia want to be even more successful Down Under then they need to play more games against the top sides, especially in conditions that they will come up against in Australia. He says that he would love a series against Australia in Australia as this would make Namibia much better while giving them the practice that they need ahead of the next World Cup.

At the 2021 World Cup they surpassed all of our expectations, and in Australia next year they will be looking to do even better. We sincerely hope that they manage to because it is always a joy to watch associate nations playing well.

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