Eagles flying high on T20 World Cup success

Cricket team making history

25 October 2021 | Sport
Jesse Jackson Kauraisa

A small nation with a population of about three million, Namibia’s cricket national team has achieved the unthinkable, qualifying for the next round of the International Cricket Council (ICC) T20 World Cup in Abu Dhabi after beating nations of larger populations with better sport funding.

Namibia’s victories not only show how talented the squad is, but signalled the determination and character of the team. The country’s triumph over Ireland last Friday also secured an automatic qualification towards the 2022 Cricket World Cup.

The results were the icing on a cake marking a bumpy ride towards the progress of a national team that has come of age and rubbed shoulders with the elites of world cricket.

The journey towards the Super 12 stage of the T20 World Cup began when they beat Oman by 54 runs in Dubai on a Tuesday evening in 2019.

This is the Namibian team’s second bite at the world cup apple after having qualified to the 2003 competition hosted in South Africa.

The team made its one-day international (ODI) debut that year, but failed to win a match.

Shaky start

The Eagles have, however, grown since last world cup showing, participating in numerous international cups, the World Cricket League (WCL) and the ICC World 2020 qualifiers.

Blessed with talented batsman and bowlers with a spin as strong as a whirlwind, the team eventually worked its way up after finishing second at the 2019 WCL Division Two tournament, securing ODI status and qualifying for the 2019–2023 ICC Cricket World Cup League 2.

Finishing fourth at the 2019 T20 World Cup qualifiers was enough to book them a place at this year’s competition.

A shaky start against Sri Lanka, which resulted in a seven-wicket defeat, saw the Eagles’ wings clipped in the first match, but the men bounced back in the second match, beating Netherlands by six wickets with six balls remaining.

Friday’s battle against Ireland was set up like a cup final because only the winner could join Sri Lanka in the Super 12.

It was a test the Namibian Eagles passed with a distinction after winning by eight wickets with nine balls remaining.

Captain Gerhard Erasmus, who has been part of the team’s journey for many years, beamed with pride after his team’s victory.

“I said in the press conference that we run a tight ship. Small country, small number of people who play cricket.

“We should be proud of ourselves. I count on my senior men to stand up when the pressure is on. And two of us did it tonight. Hopefully we can do it through the tournament,” he said.

“It hasn't sunk in yet. Maybe tomorrow, or next week, or on the way home,” Erasmus said.

Bigger test ahead

Ranked 19th in the world, Namibia will, however, now have to pause their celebrations and focus on what is to be the biggest test in the careers of the players and coaching staff.

The Eagles are set to fly in enemy territory on foreign land and this time they face some of the biggest nations in cricket history.

Scotland (ranked 13th), Afghanistan (10th), Pakistan (sixth), New Zealand (first) and India (fourth) will be Namibia’s next opponents over the next few weeks.

On paper, the Eagles will go in as the underdogs in all matches, which may place less pressure on the players.

Namibia would probably place their bets on beating Scotland who are just six places above them in the rankings.

The rest of the games, however, are bound to appear gargantuan, given the experience and amount of talent the other nations have at the moment.

Nation proud

Namibia Sports Commission Chief Administrator (NSC) Freddy Mwiya lauded the team for its efforts.

“I would like to congratulate Namibia for the job they have done because they have made us all proud.

“We wish them the best going into the next matches of the competition,” he said.

Namibia’s fixtures

Wednesday, 27 October: Scotland vs Namibia - 16:00

Sunday, 31 October: Afghanistan vs Namibia - 12:00

Tuesday, 2 November: Pakistan vs Namibia - 16:00

Friday, 5 November: New Zealand vs Namibia - 12:00

Monday, 8 November: India vs Namibia 16:00.



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