Namibia Receives ICC Approval

It’s all systems go for the Pepsi ICC World Cricket League Division 2 after the ICC gave Namibia its approval to host the tournament in January next year.

The International Cricket Council’s Development Events Manager, Edward Fitzgibbon completed a fact finding mission in Windhoek this week and said he was satisfied with Namibia’s facilities and confident that it would host a successful tournament.

Three cricket grounds will be used for the tournament – Wanderers, Affies Park and United – and Fitzgibbon said they all met the ICC’s requirements.

“Wanderers is a fantastic sport facility and certainly meets our expectations and Affies Park is pretty impressive considering that it is only about five years old. The pavilion is very nice, and the venue is modern and clean. With the two grounds so close together, it is easy to manage from a logistical point of view. United is also a very nice venue and all three venues are more than adequate. There are a few bits and pieces that that we need to tidy up but 90 per cent has been done,” he said.

The CCD and WHS fields will also be used as practise grounds for participating teams which was an ‘added luxury’ according to Fitzgibbon.

“I expect all the teams to arrive at least five days before to acclimatise themselves because it’s a very important tournament and since practise matches are not allowed on the tournament grounds, they will definitely play some practise matches there.”

Namibia will compete against other Associate members, the Netherlands, Canada and Kenya, as well as the top two Division Three teams which will be decided next month.

Fitzgibbon said they decided to award the tournament to Namibia because it was held in high regard by the ICC.

“We put an expression of interest out to all the countries that have qualified, namely Namibia, Kenya, Canada and the Netherlands. Canada and the Netherlands will be out of season but Namibia and Kenya both put in g bids and the ICC eventually decided to award it to Namibia. Namibia hasn’t hosted an ICC event since 2007, it’s one of the top Associate members on and off the field and we feel comfortable with Namibia’s ability to host such an important event,” he said.

It will be a crucial tournament, since the top teams will qualify for the Intercontinental Cup and the Pepsi ICC World Cricket League Championship. The Intercontinental Cup will run from 2015 to 2017 and the winner will qualify to play test matches against full Test members. The WCL Championship will be a qualifier for the 2019 Cricket World Cup.

Laurie Pieters of Cricket Namibia said the pitches would be in top shape when the tournament commences.

“We are doing a lot of work on the pitches. United is in extremely good condition, but our concern is the Wanderers pitch. It has received a hammering over the past year but we are confident that it will be ready and in top shape – we are busy treating the pitch and will not have any matches there until the start of the tournament,” he said.

“We are upgrading new sight-screens and scoreboards at Affies Park and will ensure that we have enough covers for the pitches in case it rains,” he added.

Although the tournament will take place during Namibia’s rainy season, Fitzgibbon said he did not expect it to be a problem.

“The tournament structure caters for rain. There are two rest days on the tournament calendar which can be used to replay matches, and if need be, the final day can also be used to replay a match. We’ve played in places like Ireland, Scotland, Malaysia and Singapore before, where there is a lot of rain, so we are confident that it will not be a problem here.”

Pieters said the tournament would be a big boost for Cricket Namibia as well as the Namibian economy.

“The benefits of hosting this tournament will be enormous. It will give us an opportunity to assist clubs to upgrade their facilities, while other benefits include financial sports tourism. The ICC will invest close to N$2 million while we can expect about another N$1 million in spin-offs to the economy,” he said.

Source : The Namibian