Namibia were the surprise package on their T20 World Cup debut a year ago, reaching the Super 12 stage, and are looking to build on that momentum in Australia.
In the UAE 12 months ago they beat Ireland, the Netherlands and Scotland.
They start this year’s campaign against Asia Cup champions Sri Lanka on Sunday before renewing hostilities with the Dutch and completing the preliminary round against the UAE.
“It’s like living a dream for these players,” said coach Pierre de Bruyn. “None of them have played in Australia before.”
Again led by captain Gerhard Erasmus, the experienced squad has a familiar look to it and Namibia will be hoping for more big performances from talisman David Wiese and paceman Ruben Trumpelmann, key performers 12 months ago.
“Last year we walked into the unknown,” said De Bruyn. “What we’ve gained is World Cup experience and confidence. But we also know there are no guarantees. We have to win two games.”
Divan la Cock, dubbed “an exciting talent” by De Bruyn, is likely to open the batting in place of the retired Craig Williams but apart from that, the Eagles will be relying on the core of the 2021 team.
Veteran Wiese and JJ Smit are hard-hitting batsmen and Namibia have an unusual bowling attack, dominated by left-arm seamers.
They are mentored by bowling coach Albie Morkel, who has called on help from his brother, the former South Africa Test fast bowler Morne Morkel.
“Morne lives in Australia now and he’s bowled many overs here. He brings calmness and some good ideas,” said De Bruyn.
Albie Morkel joined up with the Eagles when they defeated Zimbabwe 3-2 in a five-match T20I series in May. Namibia have only played three other T20Is this year.
But a link-up with Pakistan T20 Super League champions Lahore Qalandars has had four Namibian players training at the Qalandars academy while a Twenty20 Tri-Series, including the Central Gauteng Lions, formed part of their World Cup preparations.
“We would like to have played more internationals but we have played quite a lot of T20 cricket [in the Tri-Series] against teams like the Lions and Lahore Qalandars,” said De Bruyn.
Namibia’s Super 12 highlight in the UAE a year ago came against Scotland, when Trumpelmann became the first bowler to take three wickets in the first over of a T20I to set up a four-wicket win.
They found life tougher in their other five matches but gained valuable experience.
Reaching the Super 12 was enough to secure their berth in Australia this year.
© Agence France-Presse