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Namibia living the African dream at the T20 World Cup

Namibia's Ruben Trumpelmann celebrates after the dismissal of Scotland's Calum MacLeod during their ICC men’s Twenty20 World Cup cricket match at the Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi. Photo: Indranil Mukherjee/AFP

Namibia's Ruben Trumpelmann celebrates after the dismissal of Scotland's Calum MacLeod during their ICC men’s Twenty20 World Cup cricket match at the Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi. Photo: Indranil Mukherjee/AFP

Published Oct 31, 2021


Dubai - South Africa may be experiencing plenty of upheaval at this ICC T20 World Cup, but there is another team from the continent living their African dream here in the United Arab Emirates.

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Namibia are the undoubted darlings of the tournament thus far with the south-west African nation having the time of their lives and enjoying every moment in the desert sun.

It was not enough that they navigated through the preliminary stages with sound victories over more established teams such as Ireland and the Netherlands - their only defeat thus far has been to Sri Lanka - but they went one step further by defeating Scotland in the Super12 stage on Wednesday in Abu Dhabi to sit above powerhouses such as India and New Zealand at this stage of the competition.

"We're here. We're in the Super 12s. We're enjoying it. We all believe we should be here," said JJ Smit after the victory over the Scots.

It would be disrespectful to all the hard-working Namibians back in Windhoek and surrounding areas that keep the game afloat in the region with minimal resources and funding to suggest that the success the national team are experiencing has been made in South Africa, but it is hard to ignore the current growth is due the increasing influence of their neighbours in both playing personnel and coaching staff.

Five of the 15 playing squad here in the UAE were born on the other side of the South-West border, while a further two - Nicol Lofie-Eaton and Michael van Lingen - were educated at those two fine Western Cape institutions Paarl Gym and Paarl Boys High respectively.

Former Proteas all-rounder David Wiese, who actually played for South Africa in the last T20 World Cup, is, of course, the blockbuster recruit with the 36-year-old already making a stellar contribution against both the Netherlands and Ireland.

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It was, though, left-arm seamer Ruben Trumpelmann that stole the show against the Scots with three wickets in the first four balls that set up the four-wicket victory at the Sheikh Zayd Stadium.

Considering Trumpelmann's journey to the Namibian national team from Durban via Affies High School in Pretoria it was just reward.

"To take three wickets in the opening over. That was something special," Smit said.

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"I think it's his father that's from Namibia. He actually took a while to get his Namibian passport, it was up and down.

"He came to Namibia to come get his passport, then Covid happened and he was stuck there for eight months, so yeah, but he finally got it and he can play for us, so yeah, we enjoy having him in the team."

It is, however, the South African influence in the dugout that has provided Namibia with a major impetus. Former Titans all-rounder Pierre de Bruyn heads up the coaching staff, who has recruited brilliantly with getting his former Titans teammate and Proteas all-rounder Albie Morkel to join the Namibians. Current Titans High Performance Coach Richard Das Neves has also joined as the assistant coach and consultant for the tournament.

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Morkel's international experience of 109 internationals for the Proteas and over a decade spent playing in the Indian Premier League has certainly been beneficial to the Namibians here at the T20 World Cup.

"Albie's contribution is massive. He brings that calmness to the team. Our coach is a little bit fiery and spicy, and Albie is cool and calm like you can remember from the IPL in the South African days.

"So yeah, he's experienced, and just his calmness -- like I keep saying calm, but he's really calm. He makes a lot of jokes, and he keeps us all involved. Yeah, his contribution is good."

Namibia are turning heads at this World Cup with their courageous performances, but they are certainly not done yet as they are keen to give their small but passionate group of spectators plenty more to get excited about, starting with a crunch game against Afghanistan on Sunday.

"Our supporters mean the world to us. We're all so thankful for them. It cost them a lot of money to be here, so yeah, we are thankful.

"Even the support back home, like the support we get from home, all the messages every day, my phone doesn't stop. I think if we qualify for the semi-finals of the World Cup, there's going to be a massive uproar in the cricket world. But we know we can. It's possible. We believe."


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