U/19s to Take on Big Guns

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By Kuvee Kangueehi WINDHOEK Armageddon has come early for Namibia’s U/19 cricket team. Their tour of Sri Lanka is set to be a big learning curve and no one can give them a better lesson than Sri Lanka, India and Scotland; the other three members of their group. Sri Lanka and India are two of the biggest cricketing nations and they will come out guns blazing to ensure that they maintain their reputations as Asia’s big guns. The Namibian team left yesterday morning for Sri Lanka feeling rather confident of getting something out of the tournament. Namibia earned a place in Sri Lanka by winning the Africa/East Asia-Pacific tournament last August, and have five 17-year-olds in their squad. And that concentration on very young players is all part of a long-term strategy, according to coach Andy Waller. Waller was quoted in earlier reports saying: “For us as a team this tournament is definitely a learning curve which we can use later on in our cricketing careers. “By taking so many very young players bodes well for the future of Namibian cricket as all the players should be able to absorb and enjoy the experience of a World Cup. “The players can learn from it to prepare for bigger international cricket in Namibia and as a lot of them are young enough to play in the 2008 tournament they can really put their experiences (in Sri Lanka) to good use in future,” added the former Zimbabwe batsman. The side may be young but they are also talented as their success in the qualifying event in Benoni, South Africa, illustrates. They lost just one match, to fellow ICC U/19 CWC qualifiers Uganda, but got their revenge over their fellow African side by beating them in a closely fought final by three wickets. Before leaving for Sri Lanka yesterday morning the boys had an early breakfast with members of the Namibia Cricket Board and main sponsor Mobile Telecommunication (MTC) officials. Their’s is not an unrealistic aim given that Namibia did exactly that when they last played in this tournament, in New Zealand in 2002, beating Sri Lanka, Scotland and Canada to reach that stage before losing to Zimbabwe. Ahead of what is bound to be a voyage of discovery for Namibia’s young players, captain S T Ackermann summed up their philosophy when he said: “Our first goal is to do our best in every match and perform to our best both on and off the field but most of all to enjoy the experience and learn from it.” The Namibia squad is: S T Ackermann (captain), Nicolaas Scholtz (vice-captain), Jason Bandlow, Dawid Botha, Morne Engelbrecht, Pieter Grove, Andrew Louw, Hendrik Marx, Floris Marx, Marc Olivier, Henno Prinsloo, Ewald Steenkamp, Keady Strauss and Louis van der Westhuizen. Manager – Jacques Fryer, coach – Andy Waller. The ICC U/19 Cricket World Cup 2006 will take place between February 5 and 19. Sixteen teams are scheduled to play 44 matches in 15 days at five different venues in Colombo. – Additional reporting ICC website