As the Namibia senior men’s team braces for its first ever Twenty20 Cricket World Cup, captain Gerhard Erasmus believes the Eagles will not be pushovers at the tournament. Namibia have been grouped with Ireland, the Netherlands and Sri Lanka. The Southern Times Sport Correspondent Don Makanyannga spoke to Erasmus about how preparations are going and the team’s expectations in the tournament that will be hosted by India and Oman from October 17 to November 14, 2021.
Q: How does it feel for you to be leading Namibia to its first World Cup? Do you feel burdened by the responsibility as the national team captain to be making history for your country?
A: It is a great responsibility for me as a captain to be leading Namibia to the Cricket World Cup. There is obviously going to be a lot of pressure on the team, and I have to shoulder that alongside the other leaders in the team and if we can do that well, then everyone will be ready to express themselves. I am ready to lead the team
Q: What is the atmosphere in the camp like? How ready is everyone ahead of the the historic World Cup?
A: The atmosphere in the camp is really good at the moment because we have been playing a lot of games and everyone is putting in effort. I would say there is high morale as everyone wants to be part of this history-making team
Q: It can be said that since you are debutants at the World Cup, you will be underdogs. Do you fancy your chances of progressing to the Super 12?
A: Playing Sri Lanka in our first match will be a big game for us. We will be underdogs coming in as probably the lowest ranking side in the group of death, and that makes us very dangerous because we can express ourselves without fear of failure and that will boost our chances of making it to the Super 12
Q: What are your team’s strengths going into the World Cup, and what are your objectives?
A: Our biggest threat is that we have very dangerous batsmen who like to hit boundaries and that makes us a big threat. Our objective going to the World Cup is to definitely progress through the first stage. We need to win at least two games in the first group stages, and once we achieve that then we will take it from there. I do not think you can look too far forward but you go to any tournament to try to win it, so it is obviously the ultimate goal.
Q: You did well in the qualifiers. What next should fans expect from the squad?
A: The fans should expect us to play clever cricket, we are a bowling team that plays simple but effective cricket, and in the batting department (we are) boundary hitters. We are team that likes to find a way to win and do things by any means and that is one of our greatest strengths, so that is what the fans must expect from us
Q: As a team, how happy are you with your preparations ahead of the World Cup?
A: Our preparations have been going on very well, we have had a lot of cricket. In May we played against Uganda, then South Africa’s Emerging side, and we had some good wins. Then we had few tough winter months because of the COVID-19 regulations. But we picked up and started playing a lot of cricket again. We played against the Zimbabwe Emerging team, which we managed to beat quite convincingly. Next we head to Dubai for some warm-up games. So there have been many T20 warm-up games.
Q: What does this debut participation at the World Cup mean to the players and Cricket Namibia?
A: To Cricket Namibia at large I think the value that the tournament will bring will be immense as it will put us on the world map. And the financial impact is really good for Cricket Namibia.
For the players it is really good because if you play well you can set up your career to play in international tournaments; so it is a two-fold consequence of the tournament. The organisation is benefiting a lot from it and the players are very excited to kick-start their careers.
Q: How does it feel to break the 18-year wait to qualify for the World Cup? A: It has been an 18-year long wait and that is very exciting for Cricket Namibia. As players we love to have this on our résumé as it gives us a legacy to pass on, and it is something that cannot be taken away from us.