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This weekend Namibia plays Ireland in the Intercontinental Cup. It’s Namibia's last qualifying match while Ireland has another against Kenya after this. Cricinfo spoke to the captain, Louis Burger.
Well, it’s your last chance to cement a place in the final and your opponents, Ireland, have a game in hand. Nothing like a bit of pressure to bring out the best out of the team, is it?
LB: Yes, we play every game to win and Ireland will be no exception in this regard. They will be coming at us really hard as they also want a place in the final. The pressure is a bit relieved on our side seeing that we are virtually assured of a spot in the final unless Ireland and Kenya finish in an outright tie, which is very unlikely, and we have to gain no points in the Ireland game.
Namibia hadn't hit a ball in anger for about five months prior to the Bermuda match. How did you rate the performance and in which areas would you like to see improvement?
LB: To us it was the beginning of the season and our preparations for the Bermuda game was intense seeing that we wanted the 20 points to relieve the pressure of having to gain points in our last game to go to the final.
Having said that, I was happy with our performance. We didn’t really know what to expect of the wicket and weather but eventually everything worked out, and we managed to get full points even though the wicket turned a lot and had half a day of cricket rained off.
Obviously the World Cup qualifiers next year would be in the back of your mind, but why is winning the Intercontinental Cup important?
LB: It’s all about reaching goals we set ourselves at the beginning of the year. Our first goal was to get into the final, which we are almost sure of at this moment. The next goal is to win the final. Our last goal is to qualify for the next World Cup and with the World Cup Qualifiers just a few months away, I feel that this is already a real confidence booster. To win this competition will give us the confidence to go into any game knowing that we can beat whoever the opposition is.
After this, Namibia start their campaign against the amateur South African provincial teams. How important is playing in this competition and in what areas does it improve your cricket?
The two seasons prior to the previous World Cup qualifiers, we did not play in this competition. Previously we did and it was called the Bowl Competition back then. Even though this is an amateur competition the standard of cricket is high and it gives us the opportunity to play against really tough opposition. To play as much competitive cricket as possible makes you a better team and help you cope in tight situations as you have been there before playing in this kind of competition. The competition consists out of a three day game followed by a limited overs match which gives one the opportunity to play both forms of the game over 4 days.
Ireland won the last meeting between the teams. How much will that enter into team planning?
LB: I don’t think that really bothers us. Quite a few of our players didn’t go on that tour due to working commitments, and also, both teams have a few new players. So yes, we don’t really look at what happened two years ago. We’d rather focus on what lies ahead. We do know that Ireland are a decent team and that they will be coming hard and so will we. Hopefully it will be a great contest.
Andre Botha has scored three centuries in the 07-08 Cup for Ireland , including 150s against Scotland and Holland . Does the team know much about him? Have you got plan in place for him?:
LB:Yes I know Andre very well seeing that we played together in Griqualand West in South Africa . We are good friends and he is a very good cricketer and you can’t take that away from him. Cricket is an interesting game and no one can predict what’s going to happen on the day and hopefully (laughs) he won’t score too many runs against us.
You must be in charge of one of the most versatile teams at Associate level. Why is it that Namibian cricket produces so many allrounders?
LB:It’s difficult to say why but, yes, it is very nice to be leading a team with so many individually talented cricketers. We probably have four to five individuals who, on their day, can take the game away from the opposition. And to top it all, we blend together as a great team with great team spirit which feels like one big family.
On a lighter note, I suppose that with the great (flat) batting wickets in Namibia, all the bowlers coming here eventually convert themselves into batsmen, which makes them good all-rounders eventually.
What is Ireland's greatest asset as a team?
LB: They have had the opportunity to play competitive cricket over the past 2 years. The World Cup, ODIs and so forth.
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