Namibian cricket starts a new season on Thursday determined to improve on some impressive performances last year, when they host Northern Cape at the Wanderers ground this weekend.
After years of struggling in the South African regional competition, the Sunfoil 3-Day Cup, Namibia made history last season when they reached the final of its 50-over competition, the CSA Provincial One-day Challenge, for the first time.
Namibia finished on top of Pool B with six wins out of its 10 group matches and took on the Pool A winners, Northerns in the final, before losing by seven wickets.
Namibia also set a new milestone in the recent T20 Africa Cup when they once again reached the final, only to go down by 10 wickets to Free State in the final.
The fact that that match took place at all was remarkable, since Namibia had to travel overnight by coach to Kimberley after beating the UAE in their final 50-over match the previous day.
But while Namibia's strides in the shortened forms of the game have been remarkable, they are still struggling in the longer formats.
They lost their Intercontinental Cup match to the UAE by 36 runs, while they struggled in the Sunfoil 3-Day Cup last season, finishing last in their group, with one win and three draws from their 10 matches.
Namibia's assistant coach Bjorn Kotze said they are keen to improve on last season's performances.
"We want to repeat our performance in the one day competition and reach the final again. We also want to improve in the three-day matches but we are working hard on that," he said.
He said they expected a good start against Northern Cape in both the three-day match which starts today and Sunday's one-day match.
"They are not bad, but we feel that we can and we expect to beat them. They have lost some of their top players to other franchises and they have a lot of new players that I don't know, but we are just focussing on our own game and we always expect to do well," he said.
The selectors yesterday named a strong squad for this weekend's matches, with experienced campaigners Sarel Burger and Craig Williams once again available.
In the past they have missed matches due to work commitments and it could happen again this season, especially with away matches, but their experience in leading a young and developing team is crucial.
Jean Bredenkamp, who previously played for Boland, will also make his home debut for Namibia after recently joining the team. He was in great form in the T20 Africa Cup final, scoring 71 not out and is sure to strengthen the team in the number three batting position.
Other stalwarts include Stephen Baard, Gerhard Erasmus, Jan Frylinck and Bernard Scholtz, while JP Kotze and Nikolaas Scholtz return to the squad after an absence last season.
Pace bowler JJ Smit has been struggling with a niggling injury and is rested for the three-day game, but he is included in the one-day squad.
The Namibian squad is as follows:
Stephen Baard, JP Kotze, Jean Bredenkamp, Craig Williams, Jan Frylinck, Sarel Burger (captain), Gerhard Erasmus, Nikolaas Scholtz, Danie van Schoor, Bernard Scholtz, Tangeni Lungameni and Mika Mutumba.
Petrus Burger, JJ Smit and LP van der Westhuizen have been added to the one-day squad.
Meanwhile, the selectors have also announced Namibia's final squad that will compete in the u19 World Cup in Australia early next year, which is as follows:
Lohan Louwrens, Petrus Burger, Jurgen van Wyk, Nicol Loftie-Eaton, Shaun Fouche, Jan Izak de Villiers, Erich van Mollendorf, Ben Shikongo, Mauritius Ngupita, Dewald Nell, Gerhard Lottering, Henry Brink, Henry Olivier, Ramon Wilmot, Flooris Steenkamp, Donovan Zealand and Julian le Roux.