THE Namibian Eagles step up their preparations for the T20 World Cup when they leave for Bulawayo tomorrow for a five-match international series against Zimbabwe. National coach Pierre de Bruyn said they are taking the series very seriously.
"We are playing Zimbabwe's national side and the series has full international status so we are taking it very seriously. It's very important that we do well because if we can beat them it will benefit our international T20 rankings.
We've played a lot of home games till now, but we need to get used to playing in other conditions and this is a great opportunity to play in Bulawayo," he said.
"It's also an important series for Zimbabwe because they still need to qualify for the T20 World Cup. They will host the final T20 World Cup Qualifiers in July and will be using this series to prepare. They recently played South Africa A and got a good hiding so I expect them to come out strong against us," he added.
SA A toured Zimbabwe over the past fortnight, winning their One Day International (ODI) series 2-1, and the T20 series 4-1.
De Bruyn said they were ready and well prepared for the series.
"We have prepared very well over the past three weeks and most of our injured players have recovered. I'm very confident that we can do well, especially from what Ive seen at training over the past three weeks. They have a lot of good players and we want to measure ourselves against the top teams," he said.
Zane Green and Michael van Lingen have recovered from injuries and are back in the squad, as is captain Gerhard Erasmus, who has made a great recovery from his finger injuries, according to De Bruyn.
"Gerhard has made a miraculous recovery. He broke the same finger three times, but he spent two weeks in an oxygen chamber in Walvis Bay and has made a 100 percent recovery. We didn't expect him to recover so soon and it's great to have our captain back," he said.
Ruben Trumpelmann and JJ Smit are also back in the squad although they have not fully recovered from injuries, according to De Bruyn.
"Ruben and JJ are not 100 percent recovered, so they are not ready to bowl yet, but it's great to have them back in the squad," he said.
The only players who will miss the tour due to injury are opener Stephan Baard who has a back injury and all-rounder Karl Birkenstock who broke his finger.
The experienced all-rounder David Wiese is back in the squad after missing Namibia's home series' against Uganda and the Ireland Wolves, while the young opener Divan La Cock has also been called up after some fine performances against Ireland Wolves.
"Divan is an exciting player - he is studying at the University of Stellenbosch, so he will only be available for the first three matches before returning to university," De Bruyn said.
La Cock's availability and Michael van Lingen's return will strengthen De Bruyn's options for the opening batting spot, especially after former opener Zane Green is now being considered further down the order.
"I'm looking to change Zane's role a bit - he has battled at the top and I think with his explosive batting he could add more value as a finisher," De Bruyn said.
The five-match series starts next Tuesday, 17 May and will continue for a week till the fifth and final match on 24 May.
The series will be live-streamed and can be watched on Zimbabwe Cricket's YouTube channel, while live scores can be followed on CricInfo.
The Namibian squad is as follows:
Divan la Cock; Craig Williams; Nicol Loftie Eaton; Gerhard Erasmus; JJ Smit; David Wiese; Ruben Trumpelmann; Jan Frylinck; Bernard Scholtz; Tangeni Lungameni; Helao Ya France; Michael van Lingen; Ben Shikongo; Zane Green.