Namibia: Pace-Setters Clash At Wanderers

26 February 2021

The cricket title race is evenly poised between the front-runners Wanderers and WHS Old Boys, who meet at the Wanderers ground tomorrow.

Wanderers have dominated cricket in Namibia for the past decade, winning the title seven times in ten years, but in recent years Old Boys have started to threaten their supremacy. They won the league title for the first time in 2013, and followed that up with two more titles in 2017 and 2020.

As the defending champions, Old Boys have now become the pace-setters in Namibian cricket, but Wanderers are clearly determined to get back to the top, and their rivalry has developed into a fascinating campaign this season.

This title race soon developed into a two-horse race, as the two sides pulled away from the rest of the pack, while they have regularly traded places at the top of the log.

After last weekend's matches, Wanderers once again regained the lead when they beat United by four wickets and now top the log on 97 points from six matches, while Old Boys are just four points behind in second place.

The rest of the teams follow far behind with CCD Tigers on 67, Trustco United on 47 and Mr 24/7 Welwitschia on 24 points.

Wanderers, however, have held the edge over Old Boys this season, with two wins out of three matches.

They won their previous league encounter by three wickets in November, while they also beat Old Boys by six wickets in the T20 final last month. Their only defeat came during the T20 group stages when Old Boys completed a comfortable seven-wicket win.

In the November 50-over league encounter, Old Boys set a challenging target of 207, but Wanderers reached it with four overs to spare and three wickets in hand.

Their national all-rounder JJ Smit shone with both bat and ball, scoring 62 runs and taking three wickets for 16 runs, while there were also good performances from Niko Davin (52), Michau du Preez (30) and captain Nicolaas Scholtz (4/34).

They, however, have several other match winners with players like Karl Birkenstock, Jan Frylinck and Bernard Scholtz all in fine form, while captain Nicolaas Scholtz has also made some telling contributions.

Old Boys's recent success has been built around the inspirational captaincy of Gerhard Erasmus, who has been in prolific form with the bat, while he has developed into a top-class spin bowler.

The experienced Craig Williams has also delivered some match winning all-round performances, while Zane Green, Wimpie Viljoen, Divan La Cock, and Maritius Ngupita are all in fine form.

Scholtz said he expected another tough encounter.

Ït's always the biggest game of the season for us and we are expecting another nail-biting match," Scholtz said yesterday.

"They are a dangerous side - we won't take them lightly and I'm sure they want to go to the top of the log again," he added.

Wanderers will miss the services of JJ Smit, who is struggling with a niggling knee injury, but besides that they are at full strength, while Ruben Claassen, a former Northerns player from Pretoria, has also strengthened their ranks.

It should once again be a close encounter with the top spot on the log and the edge in the psychological battle at stake.

In another match tomorrow, CCD Tigers host an improving Trustco United, who nearly shocked Wanderers last weekend.

After being dismissed for 144, United had Wanderers in deep trouble at 9/4, but Wanderers' middle order came to the rescue as they recovered to win the match by four wickets.

United will also draw hope from their first round encounter in November, which went down to the wire before CCD won by six runs.

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