Premier League title up for grabs – The Namibian

NAMIBIAN cricket powerhouses, Associated Motor Holdings WHS Old Boys and Wanderers, once again meet in the 50-over final tomorrow with nothing much separating them during an evenly-contested season.

After Wanderers dominated the league for the more than a decade, Old Boys replaced them as Namibian champions, winning the title for the past three years, but they can expect a strong challenge from Wanderers, who completed the league in first place, just ahead of Old Boys on nett run rate.

Both teams finished on 28 points, with seven wins and one defeat, while Wanderers’ net run rate of 2,93 just pipped Old Boys’ 2,43.

The two sides shared the spoils in their two league meetings this season, with Wanderers beating Old Boys by 10 wickets in October last year, while Old Boys beat Wanderers by five wickets on 14 January.

In their first encounter, Shaun Fouche hit 118 for Old Boys in a total of 219 all out, but Wanderers comfortably reached the target without loss, with both Nico Davin and JC Balt scoring 108 not out.

In the return leg, Old Boys restricted Wanderers to 214/7, with Davin scoring 63, and then reached the target with 12 overs to spare with player-coach Malan Kruger scoring 48.

Wanderers’ opener Davin has been the league’s stand-out batter this season, scoring 648 runs, including three centuries, at an average of 92,57, while players like Balt, Michau du Preez, Nyasha Nyashadzaishe and Danie van Schoor have all made solid contributions with bat and ball.

They will also be strengthened by the return of national players Lohan Louwrens, Karl Birkenstock and Bernard Scholtz, but national allrounders JJ Smit and Jan Frylinck are unavailable due to injury.

Old Boys have developed a well-balanced side of youth and experience with Kruger and captain JP Kotze leading an exciting team of talented youngsters like Donovan Zealand, Gerhard Janse van Rensburg, JW Visagie and Zacheo van Vuuren.

Old Boys are further strengthened by the return of national players Shaun Fouche and Zane Green, although Tangeni Lungameni is injured, while national captain Gerhard Erasmus and Ruben Trumpelmann are unavailable.

Old Boys coach Kruger yesterday said that they are well prepared and looking forward to the match.

“We are excited and looking forward to the final. We have a good balance, with some exciting youngsters coming up, while we are well prepared, so we are looking forward to the final and hope it will go well,” he said.

Kruger, however, maintained that Wanderers are the favourites, despite the fact that Old Boys are the defending champions.

“Over the past three years we always finished second in the league behind Wanderers, but then beat them in the final. That has now happened again this season so I’d say they are the favourites,” he said.

Wanderers coach, Gareth Cloete was also in an optimistic mood.

“We are looking forward to the final, it’s another opportunity for us to play cricket to the standards we have set ourselves. We identified areas at the beginning of the season of where we could improve and set realistic targets in place. It’s an ongoing process, but a very enjoyable one and the players have responded very well to it,” he said.

Cloete, in fact, played a major role in Old Boys’ success, coaching them to two of their three titles, but he dispelled any notions of ‘insiders knowledge’ to give them a competitive edge over Old Boys.

“The players know each others strengths and weaknesses as they have been playing against each other for a long time. It’s a final, so we just have to play well enough on the day to win it,” he said.

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