A shift from “childish belief” at last year’s T20 World Cup to true mental resolve means Namibia could be more than a one-hit wonder after Sunday’s stunning upset of Sri Lanka.
Winning captain Gerhard Erasmus conceded his team would need to “reset” after claiming the biggest scalp in the cricketing minnow’s history with the 55-run upset in Geelong.
Namibia made the Super 12 at last year’s T20 World Cup in the UAE, winning just one of six matches, which was against fellow minnow Scotland.
But Erasmus said being part of that competition moved his players to believe they belonged and could win, beyond fairytale imagining to actual belief.
“If I can be really honest, I had this sort of childish belief last year,” he said after his team’s win.
“We can now physically and skilfully relate to that level. We’ve played India, Pakistan, all these teams before. We’ve seen it, we’ve tasted it, and because we’ve closed that gap by becoming one step closer to them and getting the physical feel for what it’s like, I think that’s really what gave us the belief this time around that well, this is a cricket game, and I think if we execute better on the day, we stand a good chance.
“You only get to try and test your mental skills by playing high-quality cricket at the tournament like we did last year at the World Cup, for example.
“Those experiences last year put us in a good stead for this tournament, and I guess playing a team like Zimbabwe over the last eight months or so, those are the kind of experiences that mentally will challenge you.”
Erasmus also highlighted the input of South African legend Morne Morkel, who has joined the Namibian coaching staff with his brother, Albie, for the World Cup.
“The freshness and the experience he‘s brought over the last four months or so has been brilliant. He’s such a nice guy to work with as well,” he said.
With elevation to the next stage of the tournament for a second time now clearly in Namibia’s sights, Erasmus said his team would have to refocus for Tuesday’s clash with the Netherlands after enjoying such a huge high.
“Basically, it‘s going to take a massive mental reset from our point because you can get carried away with celebrations and historic events like this happening,” he said.
“Everyone, rightly so, is very glad at winning at this nation, Sri Lankan side, for the first time ever and on the world stage in the opening game.
“A massive event in our lives, and as such it should be celebrated. I think the recovery periods being so quick between these games, we kind of have to put the celebrations up for a little bit, I guess, because it’s a new start to the tournament, and two or three games in we really want to get our eye on qualifying for the Super 12s, which is really the main goal from here on in.”