MEMBERS of Namibia’s national cricket team received their national blazers at a capping ceremony on Monday night ahead of the World Cricket League Division 2 tournament that starts in Windhoek on Saturday.
Besides Namibia, five of the world’s top Associate Member Countries will compete at the tournament, namely the United States, Canada, Oman, Papua New Guinea and Hong Kong, while a lot will be at stake.
The top four countries at the tournament will receive a big financial boost from the International Cricket Council, with many more international matches lined up, while they will also take a step closer to qualifying for the 2023 World Cup.
They will join Scotland, Nepal and the UAE in the ICC Cricket World League 2 series that will stretch over two years to 2021, and will see each team play 36 one day international matches in 21 tri-nations tournaments.
The top three sides at the end of this series will progress to the final World Cup Qualifier, from which the top two teams will qualify for the 2023 Cricket World Cup.
The bottom two sides at the World Cricket League Division 2 tournament will still have a chance of qualifying for the 2023 World Cup, but their path will be a bit more difficult as they will have to contest several more qualifying tournaments to reach the World Cup.
Members of Namibia’s 2003 World Cup team – the only senior team that has qualified for a World Cup so far – were also present at Monday night’s ceremony, where the president of Cricket Namibia, Rudi van Vuuren sounded optimistic about Namibia’s chances.
“I’m privileged to be part of the most legendary team that Namibian cricket has produced and hopefully I’ll be part of the next one as well,” he said, adding that they wanted to make cricket a serious career choice for young Namibians.
“We want to take cricket to a special place where it will become accessible to young Namibians as a career choice. We envisage that it will create jobs and contribute to the GDP and the national economy. If our current national team does well and qualifies they can take us to that level,” he said.
Van Vuuren referred to the team of 2003, saying that their success was the result of great leadership and a professional mindset, despite the fact that they were all amateurs.
“We had great leadership in captain Lennie Louw who approached cricket like his business – we were all amateurs but we thought like professionals. Despite all the setbacks that we encountered, we had an unwavering faith that we would prevail,” he said.
Regarding the current national team, Van Vuuren said he believed they would also be successful because ‘the dots were starting to connect.’
“We have the right people at Cricket Namibia and we know where we are going. The team has undergone a 180 degree turn from the one that went to Botswana nine months ago for the African T20 Championships. Then some of the players were late for appointments, but now there’s a culture of discipline and it’s a different team,” he said.
“I can see that Cricket Namibia will deliver another legendary team and it’s about time, because some of us here tonight have already become grandfathers,” he added.