T20 World Cup Wrap: Inaugural T20 meeting between Blackcaps and Namibia
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Kristy Havill

As the saying goes, there’s a first time for everything, and that’s exactly what’s ahead of us when the Blackcaps take on Namibia tonight (NZT). It’s the first time Namibia have qualified for the T20 World Cup, and after grabbing wins over the Netherlands and Ireland in the group stage they’ve found themselves with the big guns in Super 12, and with it, the opportunity to play many of them in a T20 for the first time.


They haven’t disappointed either, tipping up Scotland by four wickets before recovering from a wilting performance against Afghanistan to turn in a brave display against the unbeaten Pakistan.


Namibia has benefited greatly on the cricket front when it comes to their close proximity with South Africa. Those born and raised in Namibia often get the chance to venture across the border and play against quality South African domestic and national age group teams. But they’ve also managed to nab a couple of very handy South African players who qualify to represent Namibia as a result of their parents being born there.


Two of those individuals are the stars of their side. David Wiese made his ODI debut for South Africa against New Zealand back in 2015 and has a half-pie decent bowling record for them in 26 T20s, including taking a five-wicket bag. He’s having a stellar tournament for his adopted side, with two player-of-the-match performances in the group stages and a notable 43* off 31 and 1/30 off four against Pakistan.


Ruben Trumpelmann is another South African in this boat, having carved out the beginnings of his career in their domestic competitions. Now, he has the honour of becoming the first player to take three wickets in the first over of a T20I innings, with a stunning three wickets in four balls against Scotland that was equal parts brilliance and pure vein-popping passion.


Namibia will have gained a significant amount of traction as a cricketing nation following this World Cup appearance. The last time they featured at the global showpiece in either format was back in 2003, following which they fell off the radar and didn’t regain their ODI status until 2019. It proved to be a monumental year, as that was also when Namibia’s full status as a T20 side came into effect.


The sight of players from the opposition sides chatting to the Namibians in the changing rooms after their respective clashes is a beautiful thing. Imagine the likes of Rashid Khan coming in to share his knowledge of spin bowling, or his other-worldly helicopter shots. Or Shaheen Afridi chatting to their plethora of left arm seamers about how he goes about taking poles. The effects on the sport back home will be profound, as will players’ growth.


Meanwhile in the Blackcaps camp, India did them an absolute ‘solid’ by destroying Afghanistan by 66 runs. Not only did it put a dent in Afghanistan’s mighty net run rate figure, but it also has put New Zealand level with them on points, with a game in hand.


A win against Namibia would put us ahead on the table, but it still sets up essentially what could be a quarter final against Afghanistan on Sunday night (NZT). A strong win is what's required to boost our own net run rate, after Scotland ran us a little closer than we would have liked courtesy of a scorching 42* from 20 by Michael Leask.


Regardless of that fact, the quickfire nature of three games in five days, all in the blistering UAE daytime heat, means the Blackcaps might need to make a change or two for this fixture.


One look at Martin Guptill on his haunches in the Dubai dirt sucking in some deep ones was enough to make anyone want to reach through the screen and tip cold water on the poor bloke. The conditions are unforgiving, and for the Blackcaps to make a deep run in this tournament the odd player could be afforded an extra day off to recover.


Todd Astle making his first appearance would be good to see, as would another opportunity for Tim Seifert with the bat in case either need to be called upon should things progress. Injuries are always a risk factor too, so if one or two more squad members can get a game under their belt now then that would be beneficial later on in the event of a repeat of Lockie Ferguson’s plight.


As tempting as it is to continue unchanged given what’s at stake, there won’t be a chance to rotate players out against Afghanistan and beyond if we head to the semi-finals, so the time is now.


*Kristy Havill is a Canterbury Magicians cricketer, and a former world championship silver medallist in clay target shooting. Her Twenty20 World Cup columns on Stuff are courtesy of Sky TV, which is broadcasting the tournament live.​​​​​​​