Cricket paying dividends for Shikongo

By Michael Uugwanga

WHILE at school, one will have a bunch of sporting options to pursue, and those that are smart make the wise choice which often ends up bearing fruit.

Current national cricket team player Ben Shikongo is just one of a kind who had an option to play football during his early years at both primary and secondary education, however he chose cricket over football because he quickly realised that football was oversubscribed.

Born in 2000 at Ongombesa Village in Oshikoto, Shikongo was introduced to the sport at an early age via the First National Bank Kwata Cricket Programme while schooling at Kuisebmund Primary School in Walvis Bay.

Shikongo who plays club cricket for Windhoek-based Centre of Cricket Development (CCD) in the Namibia Premier League (NPL) has for the past two years developed into one of the country’s top bowlers, and it was no surprise that the national team selectors called him up for national duty.

Shikongo said that he had an option of taking up football but decided to play cricket as he thought that it could be easier for him to play that sport at the highest level -unlike the stiff competition in football- as at the time cricket was still new especially to the black community.

“I was introduced to cricket by Justus Hangula in the year 2008 when he used to come at our school during physical education.

“My friends were always negative about my cricket as they always said that cricket was not a good sport and that it is also too expensive. Some of my family members also used to react negatively to it, but on the other hand more people were more positive and supportive towards my cricket journey.

“I am a right-arm medium fast bowler,” said Shikongo.

Shikongo joined CCD last year from his boyhood club MR 247 Welwitschias Cricket Club, with the aim of developing further his cricket career and his move to CCD turned out to be a big success as he was last year awarded the Raymond van Schoor award for being the top batsman for the 2019/2020 season.

“I was surprised to win the award.  Coach (Pierre de Bruyn, men senior national team coach) helped me improve my game by developing and creating more skills.  My aim now is to play cricket at the biggest stage. My dream is to play in the Indian Premier League for Mumbai Indians,” said Shikongo

Achievements

Shikongo made his first-class debut for Namibia in the 2017–18 Sunfoil 3-Day Cup in February 2018.

Prior to his first-class debut, he was named in Namibia’s squad for the 2018 Under-19 Cricket World Cup.

He made his List A debut for Namibia in the 2017–18 CSA Provincial One-Day Challenge also in February 2018.

In June 2019, he was one of the 25 cricketers named in Cricket Namibia’s Elite Men’s Squad ahead of the 2019–20 international season.

He made his Twenty20 International (T20I) debut for Namibia against Botswana in August 2019 during Botswana’s tour of Namibia and later the same month, he was named in Namibia’s One Day International (ODI) squad for the 2019 United States Tri-Nation Series.

In September 2019, he was named in Namibia’s squad for the 2019 ICC T20 World Cup Qualifier tournament in the United Arab Emirates.

In December 2019, he was named in Namibia’s One Day International (ODI) squad for the 2020 Oman Tri-Nation Series.

Shikongo made his ODI debut for Namibia, against the United Arab Emirates in January.