On Friday, while I was drafting my David Warner appreciation article, Namibia were crumbling in the Provincial first-class competition against the Easterns for the second time in that match. They managed to reach 72 before being bowled out, one better than their first innings. The Easterns, meanwhile, comprehensively outclassed their Associate opposition by scoring 400 for seven before declaring their innings. Namibia brutally lost the game by an innings and 257 runs, inside two days.
The really embarrassing thing about the defeat is where their opposition were sat in the Provincial table. The Easterns were 13th in the table; second from bottom and above only Namibia. This was exactly the sort of opposition that they should have been challenging – not getting rolled by.
When you start delving through the scorecard, it doesn’t get any better. The pick of the Namibian bowlers, Shalako Groenewald, went into the game with a first-class bowling average of over 200. I don’t mean to dismiss him out of hand, because he may well be a very good bowler, but he didn’t have the pedigree to be anything more than a bit-part of the attack, let alone being the only bowler to leave the game with any real credit.
The rest of the inexperienced and mediocre side could not leave the ground with their heads held so high. It is easy to argue that it was a development side, built with the future in mind more than the result on the day, but even so, the team they put out was startlingly weak. The only players with real reputations were Ray van Schoor and Christi Viljoen; unfortunately, van Schoor has been unable to regain the form he had before his stint in England, and Viljoen was injured before tea on day one. Even if they were fit and firing, though, they would have been unable to turn around such an abject performance.
Where are the experienced men? Men like Williams, Snyman, Steenkamp, van der Westhuizen, Sarel Burger, Jan-Berrie Burger or Klazinga? Just one or two more of them to help to guide the young players would help matters.
I know that Namibian cricket has serious problems to overcome: the withdrawal of the main sponsor is bad news for any cricket board, and the geography of the nation makes it very difficult to co-ordinate a really meaningful structure at home. The fact remains, though, that that defeat against the Easterns is yet another chapter in a marked downward slide, and unless there’s some hitherto undiscovered young superstar, there simply isn’t the talent around to replace the old guard. They need to keep hold of the opportunity of playing Provincial cricket, but results like this hardly make a pressing case.