What Sri Lanka didn’t see coming and how Namibia ‘turned the tables’

What Sri Lanka didn't see coming and how Namibia 'turned the tables'

Captain Gerhard Erasmus says the recent T20 World Cup taught them the abilities needed at this level.

Williams: “Don’t be surprised if Namibia wins major games.”

Two days before a year ago, Sri Lanka knocked Namibia out for 96 and won by seven wickets. In less than a year, Gerhard Erasmus said, “the tables have turned.” His squad won the 2022 T20 World Cup by 55 runs over Sri Lanka.

Difference between the two? 12 months, but not any 12 months – 12 months of Namibian growth.

“There was more hoopla and childlike belief last year,” Erasmus added. “This year was about relating to that level. Mentally, we’re there. We can now relate physically and skillfully.”

Sri Lanka pacers adjust their plan, allowing Namibia to win at Kardinia Park.

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After losing badly in 2021, Namibia had a fairytale run through the group rounds and qualified for Super 12. There, they beat Associates Scotland but lost to larger teams. They lost to Afghanistan, Pakistan, and New Zealand by 45 runs or more and to India by nine wickets.

“We’ve played India, Pakistan,” Erasmus added. “We’ve seen it, tasted it, and bridged the gap by obtaining a physical feel for it. We had faith this time.”

If Namibia had a false sense of grandeur, “the tabloids” gave them “approximately an 11% chance” of beating Sri Lanka.

“This gave us the underdog feeling again. Having it with true belief, not childish behind-the-scenes belief, is what happened today. On the field, we were equal to Sri Lanka.”

“The World Cup last year showed us what skills we need to compete at this level. The ball is moving faster, and players’ skills and execution are better.”
G. Erasmus
This wasn’t always the case.

Namibia was 35 for 3 in five overs and 93 for 6 in the 15th before improving. Jan Frylinck and JJ Smit took advantage of Sri Lanka’s sluggish, short deliveries at the end to give Namibia a respectable total.

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“The World Cup last year showed us what skills we need to compete at this level. The ball moves faster, and players’ abilities and execution are better. We scored some powerplay boundaries today. We were more comfortable playing mystery spin [Maheesh Theekshana] and [Wanindu] Hasaranga in the middle and at the end, bludgeoning the ball. Over the past year, we’ve developed these skills.”

In this time, Namibia has had several chances to prove itself. They faced Uganda and Zimbabwe. As the Richelieu Eagles, they played in a tri-series with the Lahore Qalandars and South African Lions. Erasmus finished third in run scoring.

Over the past year, Namibia focused on playing the short ball, which they thought to be their strongest danger at 2017 World Cup.

Jan Nicol Loftie-Eaton remarked, “We worked on AstroTurf and cement wickets at home and trained for the short ball as the bounce is a bit stronger in Australia.”

As a bowling consultant, they hired Morne Morkel, the brother of their assistant coach Albie and a short-ball expert. While Zane Green regarded Morne as Albie’s yang – “the joyful guy who provides energy to training and matches” – Erasmus claimed just having someone different has helped. “With a tiny player base, it’s great to have a new coach.

While facing Morkel in the nets benefitted batters, his primary duty was to help bowlers, and the results are showing. The Namibian quicks bowled to a hard length and off-stump to cause a Sri Lankan collapse.

Namibia lost to Sri Lanka last year, which spurred them to improve and reach the Super 12s. This year, beating them must do the same. It’s only the first of three, so Namibia can’t take their triumph for granted, but they will celebrate it.

“Everyone is really delighted to beat a Test nation for the first time ever,” Erasmus said. “And on a world stage, in the opening game.” “This is a big occasion in our life and should be celebrated. But we need a tremendous mental reset because we get carried away with celebrations and momentous events. The games are so close together. We need to qualify for the Super 12s, which is my major goal for the competition.”



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