NAMIBIA gave a superb performance to win the World Cricket League Division 2 tournament on Saturday after thrashing Oman by 145 runs in the final.
It was a remarkable turn-around after they had lost two of their five group matches and nearly didn’t make the final, while they also took revenge in clinical fashion after losing by four wickets to Oman earlier in the tournament.
After winning the toss and electing to bat, Namibia set a competitive total of 226 for six wickets and then cut through Oman’s batting order to dismiss the whole side for a paltry 81 runs.
Pace bowler Jan Frylinck was Namibia’s chief destroyer, with brilliant figures of five wickets for 13 runs off eight overs, which also won him the man of the match award.
Earlier, in Namibia’s innings, Karl Birkenstock provided the backbone with 61 runs off 108 balls, which included five fours, while Zayn Green added 38, JJ Smit 29 and JP Kotze 23.
Namibia’s fielding was also superb, with captain Gerhard Erasmus taking two brilliant catches – the first to dismiss Jatinder Singh for a duck a beauty, after he plucked a rocket out of the air like a Jonty Rhodes of old.
Namibian all rounder JJ Smit however won the player of the tournament award after scoring 221 runs at an average of 55,25 and taking 13 wickets at an average of 14,53.
Papua New Guinea finished third after beating the United States by five wickets, while Canada finished fifth after beating Hong Kong by five wickets.
But besides winning the trophy, Namibia has now, more importantly, also gained One Day International status, while they have qualified for the World Cricket League Division 2 tournament which will start in July and will see them playing 36 matches over the next two and a half years.
Namibian coach Pierre de Bruyn lauded the character of his players after a poor start to the tournament.
“It wasn’t easy at all, because Oman has a good bowling unit and the first few overs we had to graft hard. But we did it perfectly and we knew that 226 runs was going to be very competitive and the rest just took care of itself – the way we fielded today was just world class and the way we bowled was outstanding,” he said.
“Our earlier defeat to the United States was really a tough on the guys, but the way they bounced back after that defeat just showed their character and what they are all about. We’ve played some phenomenal cricket, we win every battle, every game, we never give up and it paid off today,” he added. Namibia’s triumph has now opened up new opportunities for the national side and De Bruyn said he hoped this would inspire more talented youngsters to take up the game.
“It’s exciting times for Namibian cricket and I’m saying that to all the youngsters out there. What we’ve achieved here is to open doors for our pathway to the next World Cup and hopefully we’ll now have youngsters from all of Namibia’s regions who will want to become part of this process,” he said.
“Now the hard work starts – we’ve got 36 ODI’s over the next two and a half years and we need to sustain our performance, we need to make sure that we go to the next level,” he added.
There is still a long way to go and several qualifying tournaments to the next Cricket World Cup in 2023, but De Bruyn said that anything was possible.
“Anything is possible, especially if you look at what we’ve done at this tournament. We were written off from day one, but in the end we dominated the tournament in all departments of the game. If you believe and if you work hard anything is possible. The amount of work these players have put in over the past 16 weeks and the sacrifices they have made for this country and their badge has been incredible,” he said.
De Bruyn, who previously coached in South Africa and England, said it was one of the highlights of his career.
“This is definitely one of my greatest experiences ever. Just the whole journey, the buy-in from the people and the players that I worked with and to see how much it meant to them, this is definitely right up there from what I’ve experienced in my coaching career,” he said.
“The tension, the stress, the expectations in this tournament was something that I could not believe. The intensity and passion, and every team knew that if you are in the top four you’ve got a livelihood – that’s something that really stands out for me,” he added.