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ESPNcricinfo Awards

ESPNcricinfo Awards 2021 Associate batting winner: Gutsy Gerhard Erasmus makes Namibian cricket history

Broken finger and all, Namibia's captain took on the big boys of Ireland and won

Erasmus' three half-centuries in the Qualifier in 2019 went a long way towards securing Namibia a spot in the 2021 T20 World Cup, even though the third of those scores came in a defeat against Ireland.
Fast forward two years and he was facing Ireland again, but this time in a virtual knockout. As if that was not enough drama for the Namibia captain to deal with, he was taking the field for the third match in a row with a broken finger. His shot selection was limited by the injury-induced adjustment to his batting grip, but Erasmus forged ahead anyway, scoring an unbeaten 53 to take his side to the Super 12s (and book a place in the 2022 T20 World Cup).
It may not have been pretty, but the gutsy nature of the innings and its significance in the context of the tournament while chasing a target of 126 on a low and slow wicket will be long remembered in Namibian cricket lore.

Key moment

At the start of the 13th over, Namibia had gone five overs without a boundary and the required run rate had climbed above eight. Erasmus had yet to find the ropes in his innings, grimacing as he collected ones and twos. But at a moment when the chase was tilting toward Ireland, he wrested momentum back with a pair of boundaries off their best bowler, Josh Little. Erasmus started the 13th slicing a cut behind point with ferocity before finishing the over with a more delicate touch to pick out another boundary through third man. In pursuit of a low target, the sequence helped get Namibia's chase back on track.

The numbers

104 Erasmus' T20I average against Ireland, from two innings, both of which were 50-plus scores.
8 Men's captains who have scored a T20I fifty against Ireland. Erasmus and Scotland's Kyle Coetzer are the only ones to have done it multiple times.

What they said

"It was an unbelievable captain's knock under pressure. I'll accept it but today's his moment."
- Namibia allrounder David Wiese, who was named Player of the Match in the game

The closest contenders

David Wiese
66 not out vs Netherlands, T20 World Cup, Abu Dhabi

Wiese finished as Namibia's leading scorer in the tournament with 227 runs, but his highest score was an especially brutal one: he smashed Netherlands' spinners to smithereens during a 29-ball half-century that included four fours and four sixes.
Chris Greaves
45 vs Bangladesh, T20 World Cup, Al Amerat

Scotland maintained their perfect record in T20Is against Bangladesh in improbable fashion thanks largely to Greaves, who initially looked like he was trying simply to help his side save face from 53 for 6 but wound up doing far more than that in an eventual six-run win.

Peter Della Penna is ESPNcricinfo's USA correspondent @PeterDellaPenna