World Cup a boost for minor nations: Namibian captain

Published: Monday, February 17, 2003, 23:53 [IST]
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Kimberley (South Africa): Namibian captain Deon Kotze on Monday defended the World Cup's minor teams and urged cricket chiefs to allow them to grow with time despite a series of bad defeats. "The World Cup experience is a major boost for minor countries like us and teams like Bangladesh, Namibia and Canada must be allowed time to grow," Kotze said a day after his team crashed to a 171-run defeat against Pakistan.

It continued the trend where the minnows have proved easy fodder for the established sides, raising questions whether it was worth having 14 teams at the World Cup, instead of only the 10 Test-playing nations. "Cricket will not grow if smaller teams are not given the chance to compete at the top level and learn," Kotze said. Namibia, which came into the World Cup as one of the three qualifiers, was shot out for 84 by Pakistan's pace duo of Wasim Akram and Shoaib Akhtar.

"Facing opposition like Pakistan was tough and the loss will dent our confidence but we will not sit and say we can't compete," Kotze said. Kotze said Zimbabwe was a perfect example why minor nations should be encouraged. "Zimbabwe has progressed since taking part in the 1983 World Cup and now is competing against the big boys. We should also be given time," he said. "To have four countries from Africa in this World Cup (Kenya is the fourth) is a great thing for cricket in this region and other countries in the region will progress with time," he vowed.

The International Cricket Council's development committee for Africa in its report said cricket is gaining roots in countries like Nigeria, Uganda, Botswana and Namibia. Kotze's men now take on England at Port Elizabeth on Wednesday. "We take heart from bowling well against Pakistan and hope England still has a lot of things on its mind which we could cash in on," he said referring to England's refusal to play in Zimbabwe and threats by captain Nasser Hussain to quit after the World Cup. Namibia's main aim though remains coming good in the clash of minnows when it faces the Netherlands on March 3. "That would be a mission accomplished, win that one match against the Dutch and gain from our defeats," Kotze said.

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