Scotland aims for early home advantage in ICC WT20 Qualifier 2015; Namibia set sights on bright start in Group A
But the host teams themselves will not be concerned about how a bit of rain might affect the conditions, being a normal hazard of the cricket season in these parts. And for Scotland left-arm spinner Con de Lange, he will be hoping a little bit of dampness in the pitches might help him ply his trade more effectively.
“It’s a tricky one being a spinner in Twenty20s,” said the 34-year-old. “You can either be a hero or a villain. You need to suss out the surface you’re playing on very quickly. That will determine the pace you’re going to bowl at, your angles of attack, your field placing, all that kind of thing.
“At the end of the day, you are going to get hit for boundaries. It’s all about finding a way of dealing with that and making sure you’re ready for the next ball,” he said.
The top six sides from the 18-day tournament, during which 51 matches will be played, will join the 10 Full Members for the ICC World Twenty20 India 2016, which will be held from 11 March to 3 April next year.
The sides that top the two groups will automatically qualify for the ICC World Twenty20 India 2016, while those that finish second and third in each of the two groups will play cross-over matches with the two winners joining the table-toppers for the India tournament.
De Lange is determined that Scotland will qualify the simple way by topping Group B, a difficult task considering Afghanistan, UAE, Netherlands, Canada, Kenya and Oman lie in wait.
“We have prepared really well for this. I think we’ve been really thorough and very specific in areas of the T20 game. I feel we’ve covered those things very well and I sense there is a lot of confidence out of our preparation coming into this tournament.
“We are looking to win every single game we play and we are confident that we can do well in this tournament. We want to finish top of our group and move on from there. To play in the World Twenty20 in India would be massive for us. Most of this group of players have done well at other world events so there is some good experience there. Playing in India would be fantastic. It’s completely different from any other country I’ve been.”
Across in Group A, Ireland will go into the tournament as favourite to top the pool, especially with home advantage, but any mistake or complacency will be seized upon by a group full of teams aiming to take that top spot, namely Namibia, Nepal, Hong Kong, PNG, USA and Jersey.
A typically ebullient Namibian Gerrie Snyman is a case in point. The big-hitter from Windhoek said: “I’m really happy to say that the Namibian squad in this tournament is pumped up, everybody is in real-good form, even the youngsters. Our bowlers are hitting good lines and good lengths, our batsmen are really stepping up to the plate and looking good. I reckon all our game plans have just come together.”
Never short on confidence – this is the batsman who bludgeoned 230 out of his team’s total of 282 in an ICC Intercontinental Cup victory over Kenya in 2008 – he says it is time Namibia went a step further in this competition, having narrowly missed out on qualification twice before.
“Sometimes you need a bit of luck in this game... We have played really well in the two previous tournaments and just missed out at the final hurdle to Afghanistan and Ireland. So we are ready to go all the way now.
“It’s a tough tournament and it might come down to whoever can handle the pressure the best. I reckon the cricket we’ve played in the South African first-class league has really got us to a good standard so we can deal with that pressure and find our way to the top of our group.”
It’s a side with plenty of familiar faces. All-rounder Craig Williams, who Snyman describes as “absolutely world-class”, will spearhead the batting and has an uncanny knack of picking up wickets with his right-arm medium pace. Captain Nicholas Scholtz will have plenty of experienced campaigners around him including Louis Klazinga, Raymond van Schoor, Sarel Burger and the self-styled “happy-go-lucky” Snyman as well as some fresher faces like Michau du Preez Jason Davidson and Chris Coombe.
If they can adapt to the slower, lower Hiberno-Caledonian conditions, the Africans may well be the outfit most likely to knock Ireland off their perch.
Thurs, 9 July – Scotland v UAE, The Grange, Edinburgh (1000-1310); Netherlands v Afghanistan, The Grange, Edinburgh (1415-1725)
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