Thursday, June 6, 2019

World Beyond the Cup - Tete-a-tete with Cricket Namibia

DHCF: Namibia caught the eye of the cricketing world when they qualified for the 2003 WC. With a solid showing in the WCL Div 2, how confident is Namibia going forward and of making it to the 2023 edition. How is it planning to conquer the challenge?

CN: It is still a long way to go to the 2023 World Cup. It is however the ultimate goal over the next 4 years and we will look to build step by step. We need to consistently play good cricket, under a strong culture with emphasis on our training. We can't just be a one-tournament-wonder kind of team to make it up the rankings and compete at ODI level with the full members.

DHCF: Finally winning an ODI must have been really satisfying. It shows that Namibia is on the right path. How is Namibia planning to build on it ?

CN: We’ll have to improve our skill sets, improve our professionalism even more. With a good structure and culture in place we’ll continue to try and do these things over the next few months.

DHCF: What do you think has been the impact of T20I status been given to Associate nations? What does it translate into in terms of support and growth?

CN: It is probably too early to say whether or not it will have a material impact. Obviously you have stats and these kinds of things that are different – but in terms of growth it could hopefully spur world cricket on. With everyone playing “internationals” and the pedigree of the games are somewhat higher.

DHCF: With the superb showing in ICC Men's T20 World Cup Africa Region Finals, how confident is Namibia of qualifying for the WT20? Namibia is currently placed pretty on #20 in the rankings and also has won all of the 3 T20I it has played.

CN: We think we’ll get to the qualifier tournament as a dangerous team, well prepared to qualify. We’ll be feared by the teams. So that, coupled with the fact that we have a lot of momentum - and hopefully can gain more momentum over the next matches we play – will make us a dangerous team.

DHCF: Namibia has been a consistent performer in the Intercontinental Cups. With Ireland and Afghanistan gaining Test status, what are Namibia's Test ambitions?

CN: We are definitely a team that do well in the longer format on a global stage – perhaps owing to our experience in the South African domestic league. Obviously a lot needs to happen to gain Test status in terms of infrastructure, domestic leagues etc – but nothing is impossible. We can change this small country into a cricketing-mad one.

DHCF: What is the domestic cricket structure like at present?

CN: We have a franchise T20; and under the franchise falls Premier T20 league, 1st division T20 and 2nd Division T20. We have a Premier league for 50 overs cricket, 1st division for 40 overs cricket and 2nd division for 30 overs cricket. We also have a women's team and they play franchise T20, club cricket T20 and club cricket 40 overs.

DHCF: How popular is the sport in Namibia?

CN: It is very popular amongst a small community of people. Cricket definitely plays second fiddle to soccer, rugby and hockey – sports that are perhaps a little cheaper. A real struggle has been to get the game to more people. This is very important as we have a small population.

DHCF: What measures are being taken to improve the standard of cricket?

CN: The measures taken to improve cricket in Namibia is that the coaches education has improved and we have increased the number of coaches in Namibia. We have our Age group structure which is the U11 - U19, whereby the under-13 till the under-19 National Age-group teams are selected from every year. We have our club structure from premier 1st Division to 2nd Division and what improved our structure in Namibia is that we introduced a Franchise cricket level which is above club cricket (normal premier-level), so that closed the gap of players moving towards national team representation.

DHCF: Many players from associate teams have made it big in T20 cricket with all these leagues taking place? Are Namibian players in action in these leagues or any overseas cricket to get exposure?

CN: No, our players have largely fallen under the radar. It’s a shame really as many of our players have day-time jobs. Others have not yet been able to get the exposure to force their way into these leagues. Hopefully that can change.

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