March 13, 2012

ICC World Twenty20 Qualifiers 2012

A great start for Namibia

Cricinfo

By Louis van der Westhuizen

Daryll Cullinan oversees the drills during a training session, ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier, Dubai, March 13, 2012
Daryll Cullinan has been working with the Namibian team, helping them prepare for the tournament  © ICC/Barry Chambers
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Ireland is the strongest team here and it is a great start to the tournament to beat them first up. I saw the ball really well and we had a really good team spirit which helped us in the tense closing overs.

Namibia can be quite an unpredictable team, but when it comes off we can beat anybody. The biggest challenge for us will be to be consistent throughout the event and keep up our performance levels. We have had such great preparation for this event, playing in the South African provincial league and having some specialist training camps, where we have been lucky to receive some coaching from Daryll Cullinan, who is also in the UAE with the team.It is fantastic to be able to call on his experience to focus on specific skills. It has made a real difference to my Twenty20 cricket. On the tracks in Dubai, it is really important to use the crease, and he has strengthened our skill-base.

My focus as a batsman in the team is to clear the ropes as often as possible in the opening overs and push the run-rate up. Twenty20 cricket really suits my game. It is really important to get off to a good start and take advantage of the fielding restrictions. I scored 159 off 79 balls against Kenya in the Africa regional qualifier for this tournament, the highest score in the global qualifying structure to date, which was a great feeling, and I felt I batted really well against Ireland today. Hopefully I can continue this form for the next two weeks.

When I am not playing cricket, I work as a full-time fish farmer. I work from 7 in the morning to 7 at night, sometimes longer - if a pump goes off at midnight, then you have to be on site and go and fix it. They say you marry your fish farming – it is a tough lifestyle. It is a real challenge to fit in my cricket around my fish farming. I have to train before and after work – I am much more of a sprint-focussed person, rather than do really long training sessions, so that normally involves a really intense 40 minute session.

The village where I live only has 80 houses and is 370 kilometres from the main cricket centre in Namibia, which is in Windhoek, the capital. The village doesn’t have any sports facilities, so I suppose I get to practice much less than other players. It is a four-hour car journey each way just to get to training.

The people in my village are very supportive of me playing cricket and they are always wishing me luck, even though they don’t get a chance to see me play. The management and the captain will stay on to watch the Kenya-Scotland game as we are playing the Scots tomorrow, but we will just go back to the hotel and have a swim and relax.

I have really enjoyed being in Dubai so far – it is a really interesting city and some of the architecture is amazing. It is very different from back home! I love travelling and having the opportunity to see how different people around the world live.

We played Scotland in a few warm-up games in Namibia. We know they are very good side, but we have our plans set for them. Although people will say we must now be considered to have a chance of qualifying, we are not thinking of that yet. We are taking it game by game – on your day you can beat or lose to anybody.

Louis van der Westhuizen is an allrounder for Namibia and part of the ongoing ICC World Twenty20 Qualifiers in the UAE

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