Namibia: Spotlight On Craig Williams

Top Namibian batsman Craig Williams was born in Oshakati, but grew up in Pretoria, South Africa.

There he already made his mark at schoolboy level and by Grade 12 he was selected for the Northerns team that competed in the South African u19 Coke Week. That team included future South African stars like AB de Villiers, Faf du Plessis, Hein Kuhn and Aaron Phangiso and they went on to win all their matches to claim the trophy.

A promising career in South Africa beckoned for Williams, but as fate would have it the former Namibian national coach Johan Rudolph managed to convince him to return to his country of birth, and in 2007 he made his debut for Namibia.

He made an immediate impact, scoring 55 and 57 not out in a drawn match against North West and soon became an indispensable part of the team as a competitive all-rounder, with his powerful batting and accurate seam bowling.

He went on to become Namibia's most prolific batsman, scoring more than 13 000 runs at an average of just under 40, while he has also represented Namibia in a record 361 matches in all formats of the game to date.

In First Class matches he scored 15 centuries and 34 fifties with a highest score of 184 against Boland, while in List A limited overs matches he scored eight centuries and 32 fifties with a top score of 129 not out against Eastern Province.

He also represented Namibia in 13 T20 matches and eight One Day Internationals (ODI's) with a top score of 129 not out against Oman.

Williams made his mark as a swashbuckling batsman, but he was also a fine bowler, taking more than 250 wickets for Namibia in all formats of the game, with a best performance of 5/22 in First Class matches and 6/37 in List A limited overs matches.

Williams captained his country for three seasons from 2012 to 2014, when he reached a memorable milestone of being selected for an Associate Members team that played against England.

He retired from international cricket in 2018, but had become such an important member of the side that the new national coach Pierre de Bruyn managed to convince him to change his mind.

Last year he returned to the national team and helped them make history by qualifying for their first-ever T20 World Cup, and now at the age of 36 he is back in the national squad that is hard at work preparing for the T20 World Cup in Australia.

Williams spoke to The Namibian Sport about the highs and lows of his career.

Who was your sport hero as a child?

Jacques Kallis. I watched him a lot on TV growing up, I liked the way he batted and bowled, and I wanted to be like him as a player.

Who was the best player you ever played with?

AB de Villiers. We played together for Northerns schools and then already you could see that he was something else.

Who was the best player you played against?

Dale Steyn. We played club cricket against each other in Pretoria, while we were both in the Titans Academy so I faced him a lot in the nets. He was definitely the best bowler I ever faced. He always joked that he just needed three balls to get me out.

Who was the best coach you played under?

Our current national coach, Pierre de Bruyn, who is very organised and meticulous in his planning. I've had a lot of good coaches, but no one comes close to Pierre.

What was your most memorable match?

When I played against England in a three-day match for the ICC Associates XI in 2012. At the time England were the number one test team in the world, while their opening batsman Alastair Cook was the top batsman in the world. I scored 34 and then dismissed Cook so that was quite special.

What was the highlight of your career?

Qualifying for the 2020 World Cup in Dubai last year. We had come so close so often before, so it was an amazing feeling to finally reach our goal.

And the lowlight of your career?

Not qualifying for the 2016 World Cup in India, that was very disappointing.

Name your best Namibian squad:

JB Burger, JP Kotze, Raymond van Schoor, Craig Williams, Gerhard Erasmus, Gerrie Snyman, JJ Smit, Sarel Burger, Bernard Scholtz, Louis Klazinga and Kola Burger.

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