Port Elizabeth: Namibia's Jan-Berry Burger gave England a massive World Cup scare before the minnows' lack of experience saw them go down by 55 runs in its Group 'A' match at St George's Park on Wednesday. Chasing England's 272 all out from 50 overs, Namibia creditably batted the full distance before finishing on 217 for nine. Nevertheless it was a moral victory for the World Cup new boys and a huge embarrassment for England.
Medium-pacer Rudi van Vuuren, who earlier took five wickets, symbolised Namibia's spirit by hitting the last ball of the innings from paceman James Anderson for six. However, it was Burger who was the star of Namibia's innings. The 21-year-old, who attended the Free State Academy in South Africa, took the attack to the English bowlers after watching fellow opener Stephan Swanepoel fall in the fourth over with Namibia's score reading 12 for one.
He treated all the England bowlers with disdain, adding an invaluable 97 for the third wicket with former captain Dannie Keulder (46). Burger raced through the forties hitting Craig White for four, six and two to race to his half century off just 52 balls. It was the first time a Namibian batsman had reached the landmark in a One-day International and showed what the team was capable of with the bat after they were dismissed for 84 during their 171-run loss to Pakistan at Kimberley on Sunday.
With dark clouds hovering over the ground, the Namibians were at several stages on the brink of victory because they were ahead on the Duckworth-Lewis formula which decides the outcome of rain-affected matches. White, however, had the last laugh when Burger miscued a drive and was well caught at extra cover by Paul Collingwood for 85, which came off 86 balls, including a six and nine fours. Keulder added another 35 runs with Gavin Murgatroyd before he ran himself out with the asking rate rising.
Murgatroyd was then bowled for 24 by medium-pacer Ronnie Irani who restored order for England by taking three for 30 in eight overs. When England batted van Vuuren, who has represented his country in both the rugby and cricket World Cups, registered the first five-wicket haul at this level for the Africans with five for 43. England, which forfeited four points by refusing to play in Zimbabwe, started the match on the wrong note with captain Nasser Hussain ruled out due to a stiff neck, Essex team-mate Irani taking his place.
Van Vuuren, a 30-year-old doctor, dismissed Nick Knight in his third over and Michael Vaughan in his sixth over to leave England at 43 for two. It was left to stand-in captain Alec Stewart and Marcus Trescothick to consolidate with a stand of 78 for the third wicket. Burger dismissed Trescothick for 58, a knock studded with eight boundaries and a six, while Deon Kotze removed Stewart for 60.
Stewart's innings had six boundaries and a six. Van Vuuren then took three wickets in his last over as England was bowled out with the final delivery of the 50th over. England, which now has eight points after three matches, takes on Pakistan in a crucial day-night match at Cape Town on Saturday with the Asian giants unlikely to be frightened by anything Hussain's men have so far produced. Copyright AFP 2001