Specials – When Namibia ran the Black Caps close – The Cricket Cauldron

Namibia continue their impressive T20 World Cup campaign on 5th November with their first ever international outing against New Zealand. While the Eagles have not faced the Black Caps at the highest level so far, the two sides did encounter in a couple of 50-over tour matches at the Wanderers Cricket Ground in Windhoek ahead of New Zealand’s visit to Zimbabwe in 2005-06.

The first of these matches took place on 30th July 2005. Namibia had played in their maiden World Cup two years earlier, and while they did not win a game at the tournament, they produced a spirited display against England before going down by 55 runs. Led by stand-in captain Daniel Vettori, the New Zealanders set their sights on a huge total as Craig Cumming and James Marshall ran up a brisk opening stand of 73.

Left-arm medium pacer Kola Burger provided Namibia with the first breakthrough, having Marshall caught by captain Andries ‘Jan-Berrie’ Burger, who was the Man of the Match in the aforesaid World Cup match against England for his delightful innings of 85 from 86 balls. Marshall’s replacement at the crease was his identical twin Hamish, who maintained the flow of runs through a 142-run stand with Cumming.

Hamish Marshall scored 58 and Cumming went on to hit 116 off 110 balls before both were dismissed by the medium pace of all-rounder Stephanus Ackermann (2/27). Kola Burger (3/74) added the scalps of  Jacob Oram and Nathan Astle, but a late flourish from Lou Vincent (who would go on to smash 172 in an ODI against Zimbabwe on the tour) and Brendon McCullum steered the New Zealanders to an imposing 330/6.

Gerrie Snyman gave a scare to the touring New Zealanders with an innings of 80 off just 53 balls at Windhoek in 2005-06 (source – Cricket Namibia)

Namibia endured a poor start, as they lost Dawid Botha and Ackermann for ducks to stumble to 19/2. Jan-Berrie Burger unleashed his strokes at one end, but wickets kept falling at the other. Burger hit nine fours in his 48 from 43 balls before being bowled by Kyle Mills. The hosts were now reeling at 71/5, and a big defeat seemed likely. Deon Kotze, captain at the 2003 World Cup, was joined by Gerrie Snyman at this stage.

The duo launched a counterattack, putting on a rollicking 111 for the sixth wicket to excite the locals. Kotze raced to a breezy 47 in 32 balls with four fours and four sixes, while the swashbuckling Snyman, who would go on to play one of the most sensational first-class knocks against Kenya in January 2008, was even more impactful, crashing seven fours and six sixes in making a stunning 80 from just 53 balls.

The wickets of Kotze and Snyman induced another wobble towards 235/9, and victory for the New Zealanders was now a mere formality. However, they had reckoned without the tenth-wicket pair of Stefan Swanepoel and Kola Burger. Swanepoel, batting at number eight, made 50 in 43 balls, but it was Kola Burger who gave the tourists a late cause for worry with a blistering, unbeaten 45 off a mere 18 balls.

Swanepoel struck ten fours, while Kola Burger slammed nine fours and a six. The usually miserly Vettori was taken for 80 in ten overs, Mills 77 in nine overs, and Chris Martin, who bore the brunt the most, 72 in just seven overs. The last pair blazed 66 runs in just around six overs, before the dream ended with Franklin bowling Swanepoel. A good 34 balls remained as Namibia were all out for 301, losing by only 29 runs.

Franklin finished with 3/46, while Shane Bond, who was gunning for an international comeback after two years due to injury, returned a tidy 2/20. But the story of the day was undoubtedly the terrific comeback by the Namibian lower order – it might have been a warm-up game, but the Associate outfit showed what they were capable of. The New Zealanders won the second game by a much bigger margin of 148 runs.

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