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Associate cricket resumes in Africa as Namibia host Uganda

International cricket is set to return to Namibia this week as the leading African Associate welcomes regional rivals Uganda for a five-match bilateral series in Windhoek this week. The two sides are set to play three T20Is and two 50-over Internationals over the course of the week, the first international cricket either have played in over a year.

Namibia’s most recent internationals saw them take on the UAE and Oman in the CWC League 2 Tri-Series in January of 2020 in Muscat, which was cut short due to the death of Omani Sultan Qaboos bin Said before the global pandemic put the 2nd tier of ODI cricket on hold. They currently sit in 4th place on the League 2 table, and thus 17th globally, trailing Oman, the United States and Scotland in the premier Associates 50-over competition. In the shorter format, Namibia also secured a berth at the upcoming T20 World Cup by virtue of placing fourth in the 2019 T20 Qualifier in the UAE, with skipper Gerhard Erasmus named player of the tournament.

Uganda currently play their 50-over cricket a tier below their hosts, though their perfect five-from-five record in CWC Challenge League B thus far suggests a return to the associate top-flight may not be far off. A disappointing and rain-affected home regional qualifier saw Uganda miss out on qualification for the 2021 T20 World Cup, but with another T20 qualifying cycle set to begin this year, the visitors will value the match experience on offer at Windhoek.

Both sides have seen some changes since they were last in action. Uganda, under new coach Laurence Mahatlane, are most notably missing skipper Brian Masaba owing to injury. Stand-in skipper Arnold Otwani will nonetheless have the veteran spinner Frank Nsubuga and former captain Roger Mukasa to look to for experience, but with recent youth graduates Trevor Bukenya, Kenneth Waiswa and potential debutant Cosmas Kyewuta in the travelling squad, the visitors may take a somewhat experimental approach.

The hosts too will be missing some familiar faces for the series, with Christi Viljoen, Zane Green, Pikky Ya France and Zhivago Groenewald all absent from the squad list. Instead, a number of fringe and emerging players that have impressed in the ongoing Richelieu T20 tournament have a chance to press their claims. Mauritius Ngupita, Michau du Preez, Dewald Nell, Divan La Cock, Shaun Fouche and Michael van Lingen, Nicol Loftie-Eaton and Ruben Trumpleman are among the players coming into the side who missed selection for the T20 World Cup qualifier.

For the hosts, the series will provide a chance to test the depth of their squad and explore options ahead of the potential resumption of League 2 with a scheduled home tri-series against the UAE and Oman in August, as well as serving as preparation for the T20 World Cup in India in November. Uganda meanwhile will hope to resume their 2023 Qualifying campaign in Jersey come September, should the next round of Challenge League matches go ahead.

Schedule

1st T20I – April 2nd, 14:00 – Wanderers Windhoek

2nd T20I – April 5th, 10:00 – Wanderers Windhoek

3rd T20I – April 5th, 14:00 – Wanderers Windhoek

1st 50-over International – April 7th, 09:00 – Wanderers Windhoek

2nd 50-over International – April 8th, 09:00 – Wanderers Windhoek

Namibia Squad: Gerhard Erasmus (Captain), Tangeni Lungameni, JP Kotze, Mauritius Ngupita, JJ Smit, Jan Frylinck, Karl Birkenstock, Ben Shikongo, Bernard Scholtz, Nicol Loftie-Eaton, Craig Williams, Michael van Lingen, Stephen Baard, Michau du Preez, Dewald Nell, Divan La Cock, Shaun Fouche, Ruben Trumpelmann.

Uganda Squad: Arnold Otwani (Captain), Roger Mukasa, Hamu Kayondo, Saud Islam, Ronak Patel, Dinesh Kumar Nakrani, Riazat Ali Shah, Kenneth Waiswa, Frank Akankwasa, Frank Nsubuga, Henry Ssenyondo. Jonathan Sebanja, Cosmas Kyewuta, Trevor Bukenya

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