As a cricketer, Rudie van Vuuren had a rare personal high when he took the wicket from Sachin Tendulkar. “The king of cricket was the biggest achievement of my career. Until yesterday,” the former Namibian all-rounder said of Tendulkar’s scalp at the 2003 ICC World Cup in South Africa. Eighteen years later, he had a greater achievement to cherish.
When Namibia beat Ireland in Sharjah on Friday night (October 22) to qualify for the Super 12 stage of the T20 WC, van Vuuren – also a Rugby World Cup for his country, incidentally the same year ( 2003), in addition to being a medical doctor and conservationist – had a collective moment of glory in Namibian cricket. “It has been a reward for three years of hard work; now we need to expand our player base,” the president of Cricket Namibia told Cricbuzz.
Namibia, associate member of the International Cricket Council (ICC), recorded their first victory against a full member of ICC (Ireland) and it was not a bad performance for a country of 2.5 million population in which there are only 460 senior male players and around 1000 junior male cricketers. Friday’s achievement is the culmination of the corporatization of cricket in Namibia, which they started with a new board three years ago. It has now become a model of governance for ICC associates. “The ICC is using us as a case study for corporate governance,” reveals van Vuuren, who has partnered with CEO Johan Muller and both have set themselves the goal of attracting more black Namibians to the game. .
Cricket is not the most popular sport in the African nation. East football, followed by athletics and rugby. There are actually 55,000 softball players in the country. “Cricket is widely regarded as a white men’s sport in our predominantly black nation. We need to bring black players into the game. Today’s victory will help us in our efforts,” admits van Vuuren.
The turning point for Namibian cricket came in 2019 when it was granted ODI status by the ICC. This helped them get more funds from the world body and enabled them to recruit professionals like Albie Morkel, who joined coach Pierre de Bruyn in their coaching team. “The ODI status has also helped us to have more players under contract. Previously we only had four, now we have 17,” reveals CEO Muller.
Namibia qualified for the T20 WC in October 2019 in the United Arab Emirates. By qualifying for the Super 12 – where they joined India, Pakistan, New Zealand, Afghanistan and Scotland – they secured a spot in next year’s T20 WC in Australia. “We get an automatic place for the next edition,” says Muller.
The ICC has been very supportive of the game in Namibia. According to ICC records, Namibia is one of the most successful associate members due to their national cricket activity (number of participants, number of coaches, referees). They receive annual funding of just over $ 1.2 million per year. The ICC also funds the participation of all members in all world events and course events, including covering the cost of flight and accommodation. “On top of that, we provided financial support for their preparation program for the Men’s T20 World Championship which included fixtures against Emerging Zimbabwe and Titans Cricket (from South Africa),” an ICC official revealed. . For Namibia, this is no small help.
Following the T20 WC, the team led by Gerhard Erasmus will focus on qualifying for the 2023 World Cup. They have qualified for – and will compete – in the ICC League 2 Men’s Cricket World Cup – as part of the process. qualifier for the 2023 Men’s Cricket World Cup. The competition format provides them with 36 ODIs against six other countries over a two-and-a-half-year period that began in August 2019 and runs through January 2022. .
Before they think about the 2023 event, they have the 2022 World Cup to work on and before that they have the Super 12s to focus on. But Muller says they’ve already hit over their weight.