Muller reflects on CN 2021 success

… as his term ends

LAST year was arguably the best run in the history of the country’s sport of cricket, following the men senior team, the Eagles that made history by reaching the Super 12 of the T20 Cricket World Cup at their debut in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The Eagles performance did not only win the hearts of the nation but also of those around the globe, even from top cricket playing nations such as India, Pakistan, Australia and New Zealand.

The Eagles defied the odds to finish second in a group comprising Sri Lanka, Ireland and Netherlands, before it was denied a place in the semi-finals of the Super 12 T20 World Cup by powerhouse India, who beat Namibia by nine wickets.

After earning an International Cricket Council (ICC) Associate membership in 1993, Namibia made its first appearance at the global stage in the 2003 One Day International (ODI) World Cup in South Africa, having finished runner-up in the qualifier tournament in 2001.

In a woeful outing in South Africa, Namibia lost all six of its group games before bowing out, but after a nearly 18-year wait, Namibia chartered a heartening return to the international cricket scene, which saw them rubbing  shoulders with heavyweights India, Pakistan, New Zealand, Afghanistan and fellow qualifier Scotland in the Super 12.

Speaking to Confidente, while reflecting on the success of the Eagles, Cricket Namibia CEO, Johan Muller said that the performance of the Eagles at the T20 World Cup was arguably the biggest highlight, even though CN has had other successful stories to talk such as the development of cricket at grassroots level.

Apart from the Eagles’ superb performance, the women senior cricket side will not go unnoticed following their second finish at last year’s Kwibuka Women’s Twenty 20 in Kigali, Rwanda, that was won by Kenya.

The Capricorn Eagles also came second at the 2021 ICC Women’s T20 World Cup Africa Qualifier in Gaborone, Botswana, behind Zimbabwe.

“I think the important thing to mention is that we were very fortunate that we weren’t that much affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. We were fortunate to host five international tournaments for the men side, we were fortunate to play two international women side, we were able to play the World Cup and domestic programme, which we are grateful for.

“It is difficult to single out the standout moment because we had lots of activities. You look at 66 000 kids that are under the programme of Ashburton Kwata programme. The highlight was not only to qualify to the Super 12 but we performed exceptionally well, which means that we have now qualified to the next World Cup in Australia later this year,” said Muller.

Muller was speaking to Confidente during CN’s 2020/2021 awards ceremony in Windhoek at the weekend.

He said the nation can expect a bumper year from CN, which will see the Eagles and the Capricorn Eagles playing competitive matches.

“2022 is expected to be a great for us, because we will be hosting seven international tournaments for the men side and two more for the women side. The Eagles will tour countries such as Dubai, Papua Guinea and of course the World Cup in Australia at the end of this year. We have also extended our domestic scheduled.”

With his term as CEO coming to an end later this year, since he was appointed in the position in October 2019, Muller said it is only CN that has the final decision.

“My contract ends this year, so it does not give me much time to make a difference, but it’s a passion for me to be CEO. If I get a renewed contract, it is not up to me but I am very grateful to serve the country,” he said.

At the awards, bowler JJ Smit was the biggest winner of the night, after collecting three awards, T20 Player of the Year, 50 over Player of the Year and Player of the Year award.

Bowler David Wiese received the T20 World Cup 2021 Player of the Tournament, while all-rounder Jan Frylinck walked away with the T20 World Cup 2021 best fielder.

In the female category, bowler Victoria Hamutenya was awarded the Players’ Player of the Year award and Bowler of the Year award, while bowler Kayleen Green was awarded the Player of the Year award.