THE Namibian Eagles return to action this weekend when they host Oman and the United Arab Emirates in the ICC Cricket World Cup League 2 at Wanderers and national coach Pierre de Bruyn is expecting a strong backlash from two teams that will have a lot to prove.
Öur successes at the T20 World Cup are still fresh in the memory, but that's already history - it's harsh but it's true. Thats all in the past now and obviously we'll take the momentum and the positives with us going forward, starting with this Tri-Nations series against two incredibly strong teams in Oman and the UAE," he said.
"They are very hungry for success, because Oman didn't make it to the Super 12 stage of the T20 World Cup, while UAE did not even qualify for the T20 World Cup, so they will be incredibly dangerous and it will be important for us to be on our guard. We are going to be very pro-active in terms of our approach and we will have to shake off the T20 honeymoon feeling as soon as possible," he added.
The tournament forms part of the qualification process for the 2023 50-over Cricket World Cup, and with the top three teams advancing to the final 2023 Cricket World Cup Qualifying tournament, a lot will be at stake.
Namibia are currently lying fifth out of seven competing nations, and will be targeting some home victories to move up the log.
They, however, face tough competition against Oman, who are currently leading the log, and UAE, who are sixth, but like Namibia have several matches in hand on the leaders.
Oman lead the log on 27 points from 18 matches, followed by Scotland on 16 from 12 matches and the United States on 14 from 16 matches.
Nepal are fourth on eight points, but have only played eight matches, while Namibia (eight points) and the UAE (seven points) have both only played seven matches and have several matches in hand on the leaders.
Papua New Guinea are bottom of the log with zero points from 12 matches.
De Bruyn said each match will be very important.
"We have played so much T20 cricket lately, so it will be very important to maintain those levels of intensity, especially over the longer 50-over format, which will now feel much longer," he said.
"We have five matches lying ahead out of 29 matches that we have remaining in this tournament and each match will be very important, because this league is our bread and butter," he added.
Namibia will have largely the same squad as the one that competed at the T20 World Cup, although captain Gerhard Erasmus is unavailable due to his broken finger, while star all-rounder David Wiese is still competing in a T10 franchise tournament in UAE and is also unavailable. The rest of the squad, though, is available and De Bruyn said it will be a great opportunity for new players to make a name for themselves.
"I'm looking forward to seeing which players will now grab their opportunities and put up their hands. This time we won't have Gerhard Erasmus or David Wiese, so it means that two new batsmen will have a great chance to establish themselves and that's what I want as a coach. I want to see the players grabbing their chances, I want to see them saying, 'I'll take this chance with both hands and I want to make that position my own," he said.
"Yes, we are at home and I hope we will have good home support, because Namibian cricket is on everyone's lips. But it's important that we maintain our success and show our supporters what we are made of," he added.
The Tri-Series kicks off on Friday when Namibia take on Oman at the Wanderers field, while the same teams will once again square off on Saturday.
After a rest day on Sunday, the tournament resumes with Oman taking on UAE on Monday, 29 November, while Namibia will take on UAE on Tuesday, 30 November.
On Thursday, 2 December, Oman take on UAE, while Namibia face Oman and UAE on 4 and 5 December, before the final match between Oman and UAE on 6 December.
All-rounder JJ Smit will captain the Namibian Eagles in the upcoming Tri-Nations series which starts at the Wanderers against Oman on Friday. The Namibian squad is as follows:
JJ Smit (captain), Stephen Baard, Michael van Lingen, Zane Green, Craig Williams, Nicol Loftie-Eaton, Michau du Preez, Jan Frylinck, Karl Birkenstock, Ruben Trumpelmann, Pikkie Ya France, Ben Shikongo, Bernard Scholtz and Mauritius Ngupita.
Reserves: Tangeni Lungameni and Shaun Fouche.