Albie Morkel’s Namibia a sexy dark horse to qualify for T20 World Cup Super 12
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Johannesburg - Namibia emerged as a ‘sexy’ dark horse pick for Round one of the T20 World Cup on account of a rapid improvement in form in 2019.
The tournament starts Sunday, with the first round of fixtures, featuring eight teams including Namibia, which are split into two groups, playing for four spots in what’s been termed the ‘Super 12’ phase of the competition, that starts on October 23.
Namibia are in Group A along with the Netherlands, Ireland and Sri Lanka. It’s the latter they face on Monday, with the Eagles quietly confident of their chances.
Changes at administrative level - which included Johan Muller, the former Cricket Manager from the Northerns Titans, becoming Namibia Cricket’s CEO - at coaching level, with the appointment of Pierre de Bruyn and Albie Morkel, have been amongst the primary reasons for the accelerated uptick in Namibia’s fortunes.
After missing the chance to qualify for the 50-over World Cup in 2019, Namibia’s cricket authorities roped in De Bruyn, who’d been working at Leicestershire. The transformation was almost immediate as, with former Proteas all-rounder Morkel as his assistant, de Bruyn inspired the Namibians to a triumph in the World Cricket League 2 in 2019, thereby attaining ODI status.
In October 2019, they beat Scotland, Singapore, Kenya, Bermuda and finally Oman to ensure qualification for Round One of the World Cup.
Once Covid-19 restrictions were eased, Namibia’s preparations for Round One, included matches against South African provincial teams; the Titans and the Free State Knights and an SA Invitational side, where they picked up some handy wins.
The inclusion of David Wiese - who qualifies for Namibia on account of his father being born in Windhoek - provides enormous experience. Wiese, 36, played 23 T20 Internationals for the Proteas, and shared the field with Morkel on a number of occasions, at the Titans. "He is a brilliant addition to the squad, as a captain it is important for me that he has fitted into the team culture very nicely. Hopefully, he can bring that experience and extra spark and balance the team out nicely for us,” said the Namibian side’s skipper Gerhard Erasmus.
They’ve had three wins and two losses in a pre-tournament warm-up competition, including a 19-run defeat to Scotland on Thursday, in which they failed to chase 204.
Nevertheless, optimism in the squad is understandable.
The opening fixture in the first round will see Oman, now a host nation after the tournament was moved from India, face Papua New Guinea, another surprise qualifier from the same competition in 2019, on Sunday.
Bangladesh under the guidance of Russell Domingo, play Scotland later on Sunday.
* SuperSport will be broadcasting the entire tournament on a dedicated channel, with English, Xhosa and Afrikaans commentary. Amongst its in-studio guests will be Shaun Pollock, Geoff Toyana, Robin Peterson and Neil McKenzie.