World Cup Previews: Namibia & Netherlands

Taking a look at the early round of the World Cup.

Obviously this isn't really the first round, it is a qualifier dressed up as part of the tournament. And it is always important to remember that, because the ICC is still taking the piss here.

But these teams should be in the main show, so let us look at them like they are.

There are eight teams in the qualifiers, but not to spam you, I've put them into four pieces that will get released each day on the way to the start.

Also if you want to hear more about the World Cup, Bharat and I take a look at some of the key injuries in the latest podcast.


Last time

This was the little engine that could last World Cup. We saw the very best of them in that tournament, so there should be some regression here. But we know that they don't make many mistakes, are more than the sum of their parts, and they ensure that you beat them. They are the low-ceiling, high-floor team of associate cricket right now. They got out of the groups with a good win over Ireland and beat Scotland in the next round. By far their greatest achievement in major cricket.

The strength

You are not going to fucken believe this, but Namibia have actually got more left-arm seam than the last tournament. They have added Tangeni Lungameni. How on earth can a country have 40 cricketers and turn up at a World Cupwith five guys who have bowled southpaw seam internationally. It's crazy. They could have a five-man lefty seam attack if they wanted.

The problems

They really can't bat very well. David Wiese was their top scorer in the World Cup, and he's a number six or seven who slogs. And he had a lot more runs than everyone else, and considering they had eight matches, it's almost impossible to only have one guy make 200 runs.

And it gets worse if you look at strike rate as well. Wiese went at 127, Erasmus 104, and the only person above them was Trumpelmann in his 22 balls. Now some of this is suppressed by the World Cup being slow scoring. But you really shouldn't have so many batters under 100 from this many matches.


If Wiese and Erasmus both score a lot of runs, and the left-armers continue to bowl well, they can advance. I think we have to assume Sri Lanka will qualify for the main round and UAE should struggle with Australian pitches. That leaves a straight shootout with the Netherlands for the second round. Having watched a bit of both teams, I think the Netherlands are better. But Namibia can still get through. Especially if you think that Namibia should be more used to fast pitches than the Dutch.

The worst case is they don't make any runs, and having a bunch of left-armers doesn't matter much if they don't score. It could get ugly for them if this is a high-scoring tournament though, as it might highlight their problems.


Last time

Oh, it was ugly. Curtis Campher took four wickets in four balls, which was the entire story. Well, not quite, Max O'Dowd made two 50s, that was also as many as the team made. Namibia beat them next, but the worst was when Sri Lanka dismissed them for 44. It was about as bad a tournament as they could get. I would love to talk more, but I believe there is a law in the Netherlands that says you can’t mention it.

The strength

Seam bowling has been their thing for a long time now. Van Meekeren, Glover, van Beek, Klaasen and van Der Gugten is a lot of seam. And in Australia, that is going to be real handy.

Their most promising player is their all-rounder, Bas de Leede. Who is an all rounder who bowls decent pace. He's really raw with his bowling, but he might be handier here than he is normally because he gets the ball through at a decent speed. Plus having a top six guy who can bowl proper overs is very handy.

As usual they have a decent middle order, Cooper, Ackermann and van der Merwe are a decent punch. This middle order has a lot of skill and experience even without Ryan Ten Doeschate.

The problems

They just lost Pieter Seelaar, meaning they go into this tournament with no locked-in frontline spinner. Roelof van der Merwe will bowl, and he's handy, but this does seem like a problem. There is nothing wrong with Tim Pringle, but he's really green. All their spinners feel like projects.

Their openers are thin. O'Dowd is a quality associate player, but he can't punish much at this level, and Vikramjit Singh is really young. Even if he's good, expecting a 19-year-old to open at a World Cup is tough. I wonder if de Leede can pinch hit because he's a natural striker. But it's not ideal.


They have a bunch of quality seamers, and a locked-in middle order. That's a pretty good combination for Australia. They'll also be pissed at their last tournament. If their team clicks, I can't see how Namibia can hang with them, and they bounced out the UAE at the 2018 qualifying event in Dubai. So they should have confidence with that.

So they should make the next round, and there they have the quicks to bother people while they should make lots of games closer than you might think. I don't know if they can win them. But if they make the second round, I think best case scenario is being in three matches. I don't know if they can win them, but that's enough.

However, worst case, Namibia did beat them last time. They will struggle with Sri Lanka, and you really do have to beat Namibia, they make so few mistakes as a team. Netherlands looks like a good team on paper, but they did last time. If they lose to Sri Lanka, it's tough to progress. And I think not making the next round is the worst case for them. Winning a game is not enough.