Namibian Cricketers Working Hard

Namibia's top female cricketers were in action over the weekend when the national squad was involved in two practise T20 matches at the Wanderers ground.

The Savanah Acacias won both matches against the Desert Roses - by 18 runs on Saturday and 15 runs on Sunday.

In the first encounter, the Savanah Acacias posted 104 runs for three wickets, with Kayleen Green scoring 44 off 37 balls (7x4), while Adri van der Merwe added 16, Arassta Diergaardt 13 and captain Irene van Zyl 19 not out.

The Desert Roses were then restricted to 86 for seven wickets to fall short by 18 runs.

Opener Wilka Mwatile was their top scorer with 28 off 40 balls (3x4), but she received little support, and the only other batsman to reach double figures was her younger sister Mekelanye, who scored 10.

Constancia Kauripeke was the Acacias' best bowler, taking two wickets for five runs, while Kayleen Green won the player of the match award.

On Sunday, the Acacias scored 107 for seven wickets and then restricted the Desert Roses to 92/8 to win by 15 runs.

For the Acacias, captain Irene van Zyl was the top scorer with 31 runs off 39 balls (2x4), while Arassata Diergaardt added 19 and Kayleen Green 16. Sylvia Shihepo was the Roses' best bowler, taking two wickets for 14 runs.

In the Roses' innings, opener Bianca Manuel scored 23 not out off 20 balls (4x4), while Yasmeen Khan added 12, Reehana Khan 10 and Kaylee van Wyk 12, but they could only reach 92 for eight wickets, to lose by 15 runs.

The Acacias' best bowler was Naomi Benjamin, who took two wickets for 11 runs, while captain Irene van Zyl won the player of the match award.

National coach Francois van der Merwe said the aim of the practise matches was to raise the standard of the squad.

"We have a lot of under 19 players in the squad, so the purpose of these matches was to get more depth and to raise the standard through competition between the players. We've been working hard with them to bridge the gap and to improve the quality of their performances," he said.

"The national captain Irene van Zyl had a good tournament - she's a top all-rounder and brings a lot of experience. Kayleen (Green) and Arrasta (Diergaardt) also did well, while Wilka (Mwatile) has a lot of potential as an all-rounder.

"Bianca (Manuel) only started playing a year ago - she has a lot of talent and we will work hard to unlock her potential, while Naomi (Benjamin) and Maria (Nguali) are good prospects for the future. Didi (Foerster) has also improved a lot - she is a leader and captained her team," he added.

Van der Merwe said there are currently about 150 senior and junior female players in the country and he was eager to increase the number.

"We have the Salt Refiners Cricket Week in Walvis Bay where u13 and u16 girls compete, while there is also the Outjo cricket festival from 8 to 11 May for u13 and u16 teams. I also hope to get six high school and six junior school teams to compete in school leagues this year, while I started a cricket academy at Windhoek High School for girls between 6 and 18, so if anyone wants to join they can contact me at 0815501988," he said.

Van der Merwe said they were hoping to host the Commonwealth Games qualifier in July and August, which would be a big boost for women's cricket in Namibia.

"Namibia and Malaysia put in bids to host the final qualifier for the Commonwealth Games, so now we are just waiting to hear what the International Cricket Council decides. The top six countries qualify directly, but countries ranked between seventh and 18th in the world will compete in the qualifier, so it will be a huge tournament," he said.

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