Namibian cricket faces its biggest test this year when it takes on the United Arab Emirates in the ICC Intercontinental Shield final in Dubai from Thursday, December 2 to Sunday, December 5.
The UAE will start as firm favourites since they will be playing on their home turf, while they also have the better record against Namibia over the past year.
The two sides met 12 months ago at the start of the Intercontinental Shield tournament when the UAE beat Namibia by four wickets in Windhoek.
On that occasion, Namibia let slip a 72-run first innings lead as UAE came from behind to reach the 310-run victory target with four wickets to spare.
It was a disappointing result for Namibia, but they bounced back with a vengeance when they crushed Bermuda by an innings and 85 runs in April.
In September they also beat Uganda convincingly by 10 wickets in Windhoek to go to the top of the ICC Intercontinental Shield log on 46 points, with UAE moving down to second on 37 points. The final in Dubai, will be played over four days and in the event of a draw, Namibia will win the trophy since they are the log leaders.
Namibia’s recent form in the South African CSA Challenge competition has also been encouraging and will have boosted the players’ confidence.
On November 20, Namibia beat Kwazulu Natal Inland by 94 runs in their CSA Three-Day Challenge in Windhoek and the following day Namibia once again beat them in their CSA One Day Challenge match by 20 runs.
Last weekend Namibia staged a fine recovery to draw their three-day match against Boland in Paarl, while they won their one-day match by six wickets.
The batsmen are in good form, with captain Craig Williams scoring 144 against Boland while Nicolaas Scholtz added 150. There is a lot of depth with Raymond van Schoor, Ewald Steenkamp, Sarel Burger, Gerrie Snyman, LP van der Westhuizen and Louis Klazinga all capable of making big scores.
Louis Klazinga has been Namibia’s standout bowler this season and is currently the top bowler in the CSA One Day series with 11 wickets in four matches.
The CEO of Cricket Namibia, Laurie Pieters said that Namibia had a great chance of winning the match.
“This is a very important match for us and we have been preparing a long time for it. We have exposed some youngsters to top class cricket over the past year and they have picked up a lot of experience and strengthened the squad. Now I think we have our strongest team since the World Cup qualifiers,” he said.
“I’m positive that we will win. They have done well in the South African competition and will have drawn confidence from their recent victories. The only thing that is counting against us is the fact that we are playing away from home, so they will have to adapt quickly to the new environment,” he said.
The match starts on Thursday, December 2 and will continue through to Sunday, December 5. Namibiasport website (namibiasport.com.na) will have a link to the live scorecard for the duration of the match.
The Namibian team is as follows:
Raymond van Schoor, Ewald Steenkamp, Sarel Burger, Craig Williams (captain), Louis Burger, Gerrie Snyman, Nicholaas Scholtz, LP van der Westhuizen, Bjorn Kotze, Bernard Scholtz, Kola Burger, Louis Klazinga and Tobie Verwey.