Namibia captain wants team to adapt to 50-over game
Namibian captain Louis Burger wants the team to make the adjustments needed to carry forward the good performances in the longer versions into the limited-overs format for this year's World Cup Qualifiers (WCQs), to be held in South Africa.
"The four-day format is good because you play a lot of cricket without the same pressure on you," Burger said. "When batting you have plenty of time and with the ball there tends to be a wider margin of error.
"We are playing in the South African amateur tournament which means we play a three-day game followed by a one-day game so we have been getting good practice in both formats. There are a few adjustments to be made from one to the other and also with the conditions. The shorter format puts a bit more pressure on you, but everyone is adapting well. I think it's important we make that adjustment when it really matters."
Burger led Namibia to the final of the four-day Intercontinental Cup last year, losing a thriller to Ireland in Port Elizabeth. But the Namibians have struggled to replicate the dominant form in one-day matches, something Burger said was imperative if they were to harbour any hopes of making it to the 2011 World Cup.
"If we can, I don't think there's any reason why we cannot make the top four of this tournament and get on our way to the World Cup. At the moment our preparations are going very well. Playing in that tournament in South Africa has been good for us. The mood in the squad is very good, everyone is excited and looking forward to the competition."
Namibia reached the final of the WCQs in 2001 (it was then known as the ICC Trophy), and made the cut for the 2003 World Cup. Though they finished bottom of their pool after failing to win any of their six matches, the experience would have surely counted for a lot.
However, four years later they just lost out on qualification for the 2007 event in the West Indies, and Burger is very keen to turn the fortunes around and ensure qualification for the 2011 tournament.
"I suppose every team thinks it should get a place in the top four and we feel the same. We work very hard and were very upset not to make the previous World Cup," he said. "We have worked hard again this time and on the day it will just depend on who has practised the most, who works hard or who wants it the most.
"There are plenty of good teams. Everyone deserves a place there [at the 2011 World Cup] but unfortunately only four can get there. It's our job to make sure Namibia is one of those four."
Burger said there were financial incentives for the team, and for Namibian cricket as well if they did qualify. "Cricket in Namibia is very small compared to all the other countries," he said. "We only have six premier league teams in the country playing against each other. So development is a very high priority here and the extra money that qualification would bring in through the ICC would help players develop and give a real incentive to younger players to come through the system and stay in Namibia rather than going away to study or work in other countries.
"So, the financial implication is probably the most vital aspect of qualification but the exposure that comes with playing at a World Cup, the experience of playing against the top teams and playing ODIs are also important."
The WCQs begin from April 1 with the 12 teams split into two groups of six teams. Ireland, Scotland, Canada, Oman, Namibia and Uganda make up Group A while Kenya, Netherlands, Bermuda, UAE, Denmark and Afghanistan comprise Group B. The top four from each group make it to the Super Eight stage and the top two teams from that stage will then contest the final to be played on April 19.
Squad: Louis Burger (capt), Raymond van Schoor, JB Burger, Sarel Burger, Gerrie Snyman, Craig Williams, LP van der Westhuizen, Nicolaas Scholtz, Deon Kotze, Bjorn Kotze, Ian van Zyl, Louis Klazinga, Tobie Verwey (wk), Bernard Scholtz, Hendrik Marx.