ICC Media Release
Namibia's cricketers could be forgiven for thinking their name is on the ICC Intercontinental Cup already.
Down and out, needing 47 runs to win with just one wicket remaining in Windhoek on Sunday, number nine batsman Deon Kotze was joined in the middle by a nervous number 11 Louis Klazinga just as most Namibians had given up the cause.
But two things were at play: first of all, there was the never-day-die spirit of this Namibia team; and second, there was the fact that Scotland seems to be without any luck in the 2007-08 version of this competition.
There can be no doubt that having won four out of four matches going into this game, confidence levels in Louis Burger's team would have been sky-high, even facing into the experience and talent of Scotland, who won the inaugural ICC Intercontinental Cup in 2004.
For their part, the Scots were coming from a winter that had been dragging on and on and from where cricket was not on most people's mind as the wind, rain and even snow dominated the weather patterns.
Having been unfortunate earlier in the tournament to have a couple of crucial games turn into tame, rain-affected draws, Scotland needed nothing short of an outright victory to keep its hopes alive.
But it was not to be. Kotze and Klazinga took their time and showed great maturity in picking off the runs, largely in singles, as the Scotland bowlers became more and more frustrated.
'This is very satisfying win for us,' said Burger the following day when the dust had settled on the previous afternoon's excitement.
'It was such a nerve-wracking finish – it was almost unbearable to watch from the sidelines. It was such a close, hard-fought game against a really good side. To have a finish like that was amazing. It's a very special win,' he said.
On what was a lively pitch at the Wanderers Cricket Ground, Scotland began the game very shakily, being rolled over for 140 with only three batsmen – Gavin Hamilton (32), John Blain (34) and Glenn Rogers (13) – making double figures and Gerri Snyman bagging four wickets.
But then Scotland's opening bowlers Blain (5-45) and Craig Wright (4-38) hit the right areas beautifully to reduce the home side to 115 all out and from that point, almost until the end of the game, Namibia was playing catch-up.
'Scotland set us 237 to win after Kola Burger (6-62) bowled nicely in the second innings. Although it could have been a lot more, considering they were 111-1 at one stage, it was still a big task on a pitch that was helpful to the seam bowlers,' said Burger.
And in truth, until the final few overs when Kotze and Klazinga were edging Namibia towards victory, the only realistic result was a Scotland victory.
'That is the great thing about this competition. The games are often very close and there are a number of teams that are close in terms of standard. We love this event and at the start of the year we targeted a place in the final as one of our primary goals.
'We are not there yet but we are getting close. We have two games left – against Bermuda and Ireland – and if we can win one of those it could be enough depending on how Ireland and Kenya go. But like we have done all through this tournament, we will just look at the next game and play that to the best of our ability,' said Burger.
That next game (against Bermuda) is not scheduled until 3 September so once the Namibian domestic season is completed in the next couple of weeks, the players will have some time off before getting back into training for the final push towards getting through to what would be its first appearance in an ICC Intercontinental Cup final and its first ICC final of any kind since the ICC Trophy 2001 in Toronto.
With the determination and spirit among these Namibia players at present, it will take something special to stop them.