The Namibian (Windhoek)

Namibia: Watson Rings the Changes

NAMIBIA'S cricket coach, Doug Watson, has made several changes to the team to take on Boland in their Cricket South Africa encounter in Paarl from tomorrow.

Pieter Grové and Ricardo Strauss have been called up to the senior squad for the first time, while Under-19 captain Stephen Baard and experienced batsman Gerrie Snyman return to the side.

Wanderers' opening batsman Pieter Grové replaces Wian van Vuuren who has a groin injury and according to Watson he deserves his chance.

"Grové has done well for Wanderers over the past few seasons and he is currently the second top scorer in club cricket, so he deserves his chance," he said.

Ricardo Strauss, a young bowler from Welwitschias club at the coast, has also been called up for the first time and replaces Mika Mutumbe.

"Ricardo has been in fine form with the ball and is currently the third highest wicket taker in the Namibian league with 14 wickets, while he also did well for the Under-19s," Watson said.

The team has been struck by the unavailability of experienced all-rounders Sarel Burger and Craig Williams due to work, while star batsman LP van der Westhuizen is also unavailable due to injury.

In their absence, Watson has brought in all-rounder Stephen Baard who captained the Under-19 side at last year's U19 World Cup, and experienced batsman Gerrie Snyman.

Snyman has not played for the national side since October last year when he hit a double century against Kenya. Since then Watson has brought in younger players, with a view to strengthening the depth of the squad, but the absence of Williams and Burger has necessitated his recall.

"I've always said that Gerrie remains a part of the system. There has been a lot of talk about him lately, but now he has a chance to remind us all of his capabilities again," he said.

Namibia will face a very tough task against Boland, who are currently on top of the Three-Day CSA log, but Watson remained upbeat, saying that his side had the capability of springing a surprise.

"We still have a core of experienced players like Raymond van Schoor, Christi Viljoen, Louis Klazinga and Nicolaas Scholtz, while Bernard Scholtz has developed brilliantly this season. The youngsters must now just step up and take their opportunities," he said.

"There is a lot of competition for places in the squad now, which is good for Namibian cricket. When everyone is available we will have about 30 players to choose from, which will make Namibian cricket more competitive," he added.

Namibia takes on Boland in a three-day CSA match in Paarl from tomorrow till Saturday. On Sunday the two sides will meet in a T20 match at the same venue.

The Namibian team is as follows:

Pikkie Ya France, Pieter Grové, Stephen Baard, Nicolaas Scholtz, Raymond van Schoor, Gerrie Snyman, Christie Viljoen, Bernard Scholtz, Brendon Viret, Louis Klazinga, Shalako Groenewald and Ricardo Strauss.

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