Namibia vow to win Division Two tournament
Namibia coach Johan Rudolph believes his side must win the World Cricket League Division Two tournament if they are to guarantee themselves a place in the Intercontinental Cup later this year.
The African side were dumped out of the competition in 2009 by the ICC to make way for Zimbabwe, despite finishing as runners-up the previous year to Ireland.
To make matters worse, the ICC based their decision on one-day form, not the Cup's four-day format, something that still rankles with Rudolph.
Then, having won the 2009 qualifiers in South Africa, when Bermuda were relegated to Division Two, they were passed over for a place at the World Twenty20 Qualifiers in early 2010 in favour of USA. A decision many felt reeked of commercial ambition trumping what was right.
Having spent the past 18 months or so winning the Intercontinental Shield it is no surprise that Rudolph feels his side must win in Dubai next month, especially as the ICC have said their development committee will choose two of the top four to take part in the Intercontinental Cup.
“We've been kicked out after the final against Ireland, and were in the Shield competition, so you won't believe the importance for Namibia just to get back into the Intercontinental Cup,” said Rudolph.
“That's a huge thing, and we need to end in the top two to actually play in the Intercontinental Cup cricket, and also to qualify for the next round of qualifiers.
“You want to give yourself the best chance, and there are no guarantees for any of us.
“We don't understand the whole process for these qualifiers. Is it all about rankings and extra funding? All we can do is win.”
As Shield champions, Namibia are considered by many to be the pre-tournament favourites to win in Dubai, and the return of Kola Burger and Jan-Berrie Burger has bolstered an already strong team.
Bermuda will find out just how strong on April 4, when they take on Namibia in their final warm-up match, a year to the day that the two sides faced each other in Namibia. A tour in which the Island were heavily beaten in all forms of the game.
Along with Kola Burger and JB Burger, the side have batsmen Raymond van Schoor and Ewald Steenkamp, who put on a record 374 opening stand against Bermuda last year, both available.
Coming into the event on the back of a successful season in the Cricket South Africa competition, Rudolph is excited about seeing how his side will do in Dubai.
“I believe that the Cricket South Africa competition that we play in has helped us a lot (with our preparation), although it's 40 overs,” said Rudolph. “And MCC toured Namibia in February, so we got some games against them also.
“From a players perspective, Kola Burger is back with us again, the left arm seamer, and Jan-Berrie Burger returns after two years, so he's (playing) full time again.
‘Then we have another new player, Christoffel Viljoen, a seam bowler and lower order bat, he just qualified to play for Namibia, so yes, I'm quite excited to see how the boys will do.”
Rudolph's biggest problem is trying to figure out where to play van Schoor, and the warm-up games against Bermuda, and Hong Kong a day later, will go a long way to helping him make that decision.
“Raymond (van Schoor), we're still finalising where he's going to bat, maybe middle order or top,” said Rudolph.