David Wiese and Gerhard Erasmus of Namibia

Namibia, Thailand steal headlines in Associate Performances of the Year

David Wiese and Gerhard Erasmus of Namibia

The complete list of awards:

The Eagles were one of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup’s great inspirers, progressing from the First Round of the competition, to then go toe-to-toe with some of cricket’s heavyweights.

They claimed the award after their successful chase over Full Members Ireland to punch their tickets for the next stage, overcoming both a tough opponent and a tricky Sharjah surface.

Ireland fired away early on, reaching 55/0 at the end of the Powerplay, with Paul Stirling and Kevin O'Brien looking in ominous form. Bernard Scholtz claimed the wicket of Stirling to turn the tide, with Jan Frylinck taking O'Brien as the first of three wickets.

Set 126 to win, the Eagles took their time in the chase through a partnership between Zane Green and skipper Gerhard Erasmus. The side upped the scoring rate late on thanks to a typical David Wiese knock, with Erasmus pacing things expertly, raising the bat for a half-century in the process.

CEO of Cricket Namibia Johan Muller puts the result into context, not only as one moment of a trailblazing campaign, but also the result of years of hard work both on the big stage and behind the scenes.

"Against Sri Lanka (at the start of the World Cup) we got completely outplayed by a high quality team, and that that was actually a good thing because it showed us the pace and the standard of of the competition. And then we had a really good win against Netherlands," he said.

"It was not just the game, it was qualification for the Super 12, it was a full member, but it was also automatic qualification for the 2022 World Cup, which just made the pressure and the expectation of that one match so much higher.

"Stirling was was just hitting the ball cleanly wherever he wanted to and they were running away with the match on a fairly difficult wicket in Sharjah. For these players to be able to bring it back from from that situation was was enormous."

Muller praised the work of coach Pierre de Bruyn, as well as the board members and volunteers of Cricket Namibia for their hard work behind the scenes.

"Pierre de Bruyn has been instrumental in in making sure the team is well prepared for whatever comes their way and and change of mindset and how they view themselves as players. I think that is one of the biggest changes that occurred in cricket is that these players actually believe they can win," Muller added.

"Onfield success originates in the boardroom and I must compliment our board members. The board that took over in 2018 under the leadership of Dr. Rudi van Vuuren and quite a number of influential business people who just said that we want to steer cricket in the right direction. They're all volunteers but they have a passion for cricket."

On the women’s side, the Thailand juggernaut is showing no sign of slowing down, as shown by their victory over Full Members Bangladesh at the Women's Cricket World Cup Qualifier back in December.

Bouncing back after a disappointing loss to Pakistan even after bowling them out for 145, Thailand hit back emphatically against the group leaders. No.10 T20I all-rounder Nattaya Boochatham began the assault after beating the in-form Sharmin Akhter early, teaming up with swing bowler Chanida Suthhiruang, who claimed the wicket of Nigar Sultana Joty.

Despite an 84-run partnership between Murshida Khatun and Fargana Hoque Pinky, Thailand hit back through spin. Bootchatham and her off-spin finished with 5/26, to keep their opponents to 176.

Promoted to the top of the order, Sornarrin Tippoch joined Natthakan Chantham to set the foundation for the run chase with a 97-run partnership that put the side in the ascendancy. Nannapat Koncharoenkai, and skipper Naruemol Chaiwai pushed on, only for rain to intervene.

Perched at 132/2 (39.2) during the delay, Thailand were ahead on DLS, and were declared winners as rain continued.

This was a historic win for Thailand and another over a Full Member nation, who at this point was ranked fifth in the world. Lauded as "another significant step" by the Cricket Association of Thailand, this time showing 50-over nous after earlier T20 success.

The win also sent Thailand to the Super Sixes phase of the Women's Qualifier, though the tournament was curtailed due to the escalating concerns of the Omicron variant of Covid-19.

"We are extremely happy to receive this award," Cricket Association of Thailand remarked in their acceptance video.

"It is a testament to the hard work the girls and coaching staff have put into achieving this milestone time and again. We will keep pushing the boundaries to achieve excellence and try to inspire a new generation and new regions to push the envelope and make cricket a bigger and more global game."

National team captain Naruemol Chaiwai says she is "extremely delighted" to receive the award, and pledges to continue the hard work for further international success.

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