Gerhard Erasmus grew up in a cricketing environment. His father Francois Erasmus – apart from running a law firm in the capital city of Namibia, Windhoek – was the president of Cricket Namibia.
As a kid, Gerhard accompanied his father to cricket fields. An eight-year-old Gerhard spent his time providing drinks and picking balls during the 2003 Cricket World Cup in South Africa.
Twenty years down the line in 2023 Gerhard is not only carrying forward the passion for the game, he is busy creating a legacy for the Erasmus family. Part of the golden generation of Namibia Cricket, Gerhard is at the forefront of carrying forward Namibia cricket. Leading the side Gerhard has spearheaded the team to a hat trick of qualification into the T20 World Cup.
SportsBoom.com caught up with the Namibia captain in a freewheeling chat discussing wide-ranging issues from the preparation for the upcoming T20 World Cup to his vision for Namibia cricket to the players he looks up to.
CHALLENGES OF BEING AN ASSOCIATE CRICKET NATION
Playing associate cricket is not easy. You need to win to stay in the mix. If you lose, you just don’t lose a match. The repercussions are heavy. You lose funding, future opportunities and probably a cricket career.
Most associate nations face a two-pronged challenge: sporting infrastructure and quality exposure. As Gerhard puts it – the cry of the associate nations is to get more exposure. For associate nations who toil hard to qualify for the World Cups, the journey is steeper. Gerhard as the captain of Namibia understands it very well.
“It’s always a struggle to get high-quality opposition to come to Namibia and to travel to other countries to play high-quality fixtures,” Gerhard said when speaking about the challenges in terms of preparation for the 2024 T20 World Cup.
“But luckily with the start of the World Cup League 2 Nepal will host Namibia and Scotland in the Tri-Series fixture in February 2024. We will be playing T20 matches after the 50-over matches. We will also play Scotland in May.
“We are also trying to organise our fixtures and planning to play some warm-up games against Joburg Super Kings ahead of the 2024 SA20 tournament. The African Games in March 20204 in Ghana will also have cricket, providing us with some match practice,” he explained.
“Our preparation before the 2021 T20 World Cup was excellent and we showed that in the field as we progressed to the Super 12 stage. In the next T20 World Cup in Australia in 2022 we did not have the ideal preparation as we encountered a rainy week before the start of the tournament said Gerhard how exposure to play quality opposition matters.”
NAMIBIA IS THE NEW ZEALAND OF TEST CRICKET
“Other than the interaction with players from the opposition camp, the main interaction you have is the game itself where you can see the other team performing skill in front of twenty or thirty thousand people and under pressure. That’s the most important learning for us when we play against a quality opposition,” Gerhard said.
Gerhard highlights his post-match interactions, particularly with New Zealand captain Kane Williamson. Drawing parallels from one of his interactions with Kane Williamson, the 28-year Namibia Captain reflects on how Namibia is the New Zealand of Test Cricket.
“I would like always to think that the Namibian side is the New Zealand of Test Cricket. We are meticulous in our planning. We are almost under-resourced but overachieving if I want to call it that. Same way Williamson and Cricket New Zealand have driven their culture over the years to over-perform,” said Gerhard
“In our interaction, I wanted to tap into that aspect and ask him questions about it. And his answers were very simple. They try and run a very sharp culture. We run a sharp culture which is built around having a good ethos and a hardworking environment. But at the same time allowing the guys to express their skills in the field. Having really clear lines of communication, building the trust of your players, and that kind of old-school thing.”
Such conversations provide Gerhard reassurance and a sense of shared experience. It makes the efforts and challenges of his captaincy worthwhile.
MORE T20 WORLD CUPS ARE A GOOD ALTERNATIVE TO THE 50 OVER WORLD CUP
But are the associate nations getting the cricket fixtures they would like to have?
Gerhard is pragmatic about it and understands the administrators, franchise owners and the apex cricketing bodies’ predicament. While answering the question of how the ILT20 has a rule of having two associate nation players in the squad Gerhard sounded cautiously optimistic.
“I believe the future of cricket lies in expanding the game, especially with the T20 format providing an accessible platform for global development. Nations with more resources bear the responsibility to facilitate world cricket’s growth. Franchise leagues offer players the chance to become cricket superstars, encouraging more individuals to pursue cricket as a career,” Gerhard noted.
“A lot of the associate countries mostly have expats playing for them from different countries all over the world. We’ve seen the movement of a lot of players from a lot of cricketing nations going to associate nations and making their careers there,” the Eagles skipper said.
“I would like to see more players from their own countries playing for their country. The rule to have two associate players from associate nations is just getting bypassed at the moment by players who play for the Netherlands or play for the UAE but are essentially Pakistani nationals or New Zealand nationals or South African nationals” said Gerhard in dismay.”
Having an ODI Cricket World Cup with just 10 teams Gerhard understands the pragmatism behind it.
He said: “ICC decided to move from 50 over World Cup to T20 World Cup when it comes to the development of the game and trying to give the associates chances to get into world cricket. So we’re more or less grateful for that. Having more T20 World Cups is I guess sort of a viable replacement for the 50 Over World Cup in which ICC want to keep the strongest teams in the world competing all the time.”
“In saying that there’s no reason why we can’t go and qualify for a 50 over World Cup, but I’ll always try and encourage world cricket to be a 16-team or 20-team tournament,” said an optimistic Gerhard.
ASHWIN AND NEW ZEALAND – I LOOK UP TO THEM
A cricket nerd as Gerhard calls himself and penchant for analytical thinking he continues to express eagerness to learn from various players. When it comes to off-spin bowling not possessing all of Ashwin’s deliveries, he strives to emulate his approach, appreciating how he analyses bowling and cricket in general.
“The last year or so, I have started bowling quite a lot. I have watched a lot of videos and listened much more intently these days when spinners talk and Ashwin has been one of the guys that I really try and listen to. I think he’s obviously a great cricket brain,” said Gerhard.
As a captain and as a team I try and always stick to teams like New Zealand, how they operate, how they play. – SportsBoom.com
Stay informed with The Namibian – your source for credible journalism. Get in-depth reporting and opinions for only N$85 a month. Invest in journalism, invest in democracy –