Namibia, hosts of the World Cricket League Division 2, finished second on the points table to secure one-day international status after a comprehensive 151-run victory over Hong Kong on Friday, 26 April.
With two wins and as many losses in four games, it was vital for Namibia to come out on top in their final game to ensure ODI status. For Gerhard Erasmus, the Namibia skipper, the achievement inspired more relief than excitement, as he remembered the tournament last year, when his team finished fourth and were denied a chance to ascend to the next level.
"The consequences are so high. Careers were at stake," he reflected. "It was a huge sigh of relief. We have had some tough ones in the past. It was just unbelievable to stand here thinking back to a few months ago – we were at this same spot, crying. Now it's just sheer jubilation."
United States of America, Papua New Guinea and table-toppers Oman were the other three sides that received ODI status through the tournament. Erasmus believes that this achievement will help these teams unlock their potential and spread the sport across their countries.
"ODI status was always the goal. It was a tournament with high stakes. It means ODI cricket for the next few years, it means more money to do something with," he explained.
"It means careers, it means spreading the game around the country. We can't put in words the effect this could have. In other countries like USA, it could be massive. More cricketers will be exposed to high levels, better infrastructure."
The hosts put up a splendid performance against Hong Kong, posting a massive 396/3 after being put in to bat first. The architects of their victory were JP Kotze and Stephen Baard, who both struck centuries to add 243 for the second wicket.
"I came in and the situation needed us to up the ante. It was just one of those days where something clicks. I just played my natural game and continued ticking," said Kotze, who was adjudged Player of the Match for his 86-ball 148. "Hopefully, I can play a lot of ODIs for my country. To qualify for the World Cup, that's my main goal."
It has been a great start for Pierre de Bruyn, who was appointed head coach in December with the very objective of securing ODI status in this tournament. "It is a country that has the potential to compete with the top Associate teams in the world and I am confident that we can align our vision and goals to reach success," he had said back then. The team have lived up to their coach's words so far.