NAMIBIA’s road to the 2023 Cricket World Cup starts this weekend when they travel to Ford Lauderdale in the United States to compete in their first tri-nations series of the Cricket World Cup League 2 tournament.
Namibia will make their debut in the Cricket World Cup League 2 tournament against the hosts, United States, and Papua New Guinea in the six-match series, which is one of several tri-nations series’ over the next two and a half years which will serve as a qualifier for the 2023 Cricket World Cup.
The series starts on Friday with the United States taking on PNG, while Namibia will make their debut against the United States on Tuesday, 17 September.
At the end of the tournament in January 2022, the top three teams will advance to the final qualifying tournament for the 2023 Cricket World Cup.
With the other teams in the competition – Scotland, Nepal and the UAE – all ranked higher, a good start against the United States and PNG will be imperative if Namibia hopes to finish amongst the top three.
PNG got off to a poor start when the tournament kicked off with the first tri-nations series in Scotland last month, losing all their matches against Scotland and Oman, while the latter two both won three of their four matches to take an early lead on six points each.
PNG were, however, competitive throughout and should provide stiff opposition, especially since they will be determined to get their first points in the competition.
In their opening match they lost by four wickets to Oman, with Tony Ura scoring 54 and Lega Siaka 41 in a total of 229/8, while Oman reached the target with only five balls to spare.
Against Scotland on 17 August, Ura was once again the top scorer with 46 runs as they posted 205/9, while Scotland reached the target for the loss of seven wickets and with seven balls to spare.
Three days later, Scotland beat them by 38 runs, with their captain Assad Vala scoring 48 in a total of 204/9 in reply to Scotland’s 242/7.
In their final match against Oman the next day, Ura top scored with 34, while their tail-enders all made useful contributions in a total of 207/6, before Oman reached the target for the loss of six wickets with 14 balls in hand.
Their top bowlers include the leg spinner Charles Amini, who took three wickets for 39 runs against Oman; pace bowler Nosiana Pokana, who took 3/25 against Scotland; and off-spinner Assad Vala who took 3/37 against Scotland.
The United States’ preparations have also not been very convincing, as they could only finish third out of four teams in the ICC T20 World Cup Americas Qualifier last month.
The United States could only win two of their six matches to finish third on four points, while Canada won the tournament on 11 points, Bermuda came second on nine points, and the Cayman Islands came last on zero points.
Namibia, meanwhile, easily beat Botswana 4-0 in a T20 series in Windhoek last month, although Botswana were clearly not up to standard and Namibia will receive a much tougher test in the United States.
Some of the players who impressed in that series included Stephen Baard, who was the top scorer with 166 runs at an average of 55,33, captain Gerhard Erasmus, who scored 128 at an average of 42,66, and JP Kotze, who scored 121 runs at an average of 60,50.
Kotze’s performance in the second T20 encounter was especially memorable as he smashed a brilliant 101 not out off only 43 balls, which included a spectacular five sixes in one over.
Erasmus was Namibia’s top bowler, taking seven wickets, while the young Ben Shikongo impressed with four wickets to be called up to the national senior side for the first time.
Namibia’s other matches in the series are against the USA on 20 September and PNG on 22 and 23 September.