Praise continues to flow in for the Eagles after they reached the T20 Cricket World Cup second round for the first-time ever, following an eight-wicket win over Ireland on Friday.
The Namibian senior cricketers recorded several feats last week: first defeating test-playing nation Netherlands – which also signified their first-ever win at a world cup; then on Friday, qualifying for the Super 12 stage of the competition for the first-time ever.
These two wins out of three games in the T20 world cup, underway in Abu Dhabi and Oman, Namibia put behind Sri Lanka in Group A after the 2014 champions dismissed the Netherlands.
Namibia, the lowest-ranked team in the competition, will now face former winners India and Pakistan, as well as New Zealand, Afghanistan and Scotland in the Super 12.
Reacting to the win, Deon Kotze, who captained the 2003 50 Over Cricket World Cup squad, said it is a great time to be a Namibian, and praised the team’s consistency displayed over the last two years.
“Virtually, every tournament they play is always a qualifying event of some sort – and if you don’t perform well enough and you simply don’t qualify for the next event, that means they are under pressure every time they walk onto the field,” he told New Era Sport.
Kotze added the team delt with that pressure so well, describing it as “phenomenal”.
“If you think they had to qualify for One Day International (ODI) status not so long ago (2019), and then they had to qualify for this world cup in the last weeks – and now the Super 12 stage; so, absolutely everything they do is always a pressure-packed environment that they have to perform under.”
Kotze further credited Cricket Namibia (CN) for ensuring a conducive environment for players to thrive.
Namibia Sports Commission (NSC) chief administrator Freddy Mwiya also acknowledged the work done by CN, saying the win shows how the sport has evolved and reached new heights.
“This is very impressive…This is also due to the code turning professional, which has now seen the team putting up great performances. It managed to turn all 18 players into professional players. Once you have professional players, they will know how to conduct themselves – and, indeed, they give all the best. We look forward to what will happen next,” he added.
Meanwhile, skipper Gerhard Erasmus, whose tremendous partnership with David Wiese took Namibia home, said the victory is huge for a small cricket-playing nation like Namibia.
Erasmus hit three boundaries and a six in his 49-ball innings, while Wiese, who played for South Africa at the 2016 World Cup, was undefeated on 28.
He thanked Wiese for a great performance, saying he played a big role in that massive win.
“I count on my senior men to stand up when the pressure is on. And two of us (him and Wiese) did it tonight. Hopefully, we can do it through the tournament,” added Erasmus, who put on 53 for the third wicket with Wiese.
Wiese, who was again named Player of the Match, smashed two sixes and a boundary in a 14-ball innings, which was a whirlwind in comparison to Namibia’s sedate early progress.
Namibia’s coach Pierre de Bruyn hailed the achievement of his team, saying he had 18 players to pick from for the national squad, and he know what they’ve put in for the last three years.
“It sounds like a cliché that the hard work has paid off, but it certainly did – and I’m really ecstatic for the players.”
- Additional reporting by Nampa
- Additional reporting by SuperSport