History beckons for Namibia at the ICC Men’s T20 Cricket World Cup but captain Gerhard Erasmus’ message to his pioneering teammates is clear - pressure is a privilege.

The lowest ranked team in the tournament at 19th, Namibia will break new ground when they make their maiden T20 World Cup appearance at the showdown in the UAE and Oman.

Having secured their place through the 2019 ICC T20 World Cup Qualifier, the Eagles will contest Group A with Ireland, Netherlands and Sri Lanka, where the top two will seal a place in the Super 12s.

But while the stakes have never been higher for the debutants, Erasmus wants his team to embrace the challenge and continue to take Namibian cricket to new levels.

“I guess this squad has been one of the most successful squads in our country’s history and there is a bit of expectation coming with that,” said the 26-year-old all-rounder.

“People expect you to continue winning, to continue riding the high waves but we can turn that into a positive thing, it’s a privilege to be doing this. Pressure is often a privilege.

“In this sense it most definitely is. We can use that to get to levels where we haven’t been before with cricket in Namibia and that’s to get past Test nations in a group stage.

“That would be historical again and this team is ready to do that, I think. Hopefully that outcome can happen. I always think tournament cricket is different, it has a different pressure to it.”

An impressive 54-run win over Oman in the semi-final play-off at the 2019 T20 World Cup Qualifier in the United Arab Emirates booked Namibia their spot at the Covid-delayed tournament.

That historic triumph capped an incredible year for Erasmus’ men that also saw them earn ODI status for the first time since 2003 by winning the ICC World Cricket League Division 2. 

And while they will be considered underdogs to progress to the Super 12s stage, Erasmus insists the team possess the firepower to upset the odds.

“If we go out play our roles really well, each and every individual in the team, I have no doubt that we have enough firepower and skill in the team to progress through the group stage,” he said.

“I think there’s no-one else in the squad that doesn’t believe that either so that’s a nice position to be in as a captain and the management staff will continue to boost that message.

“I don’t think there is anyone on tour who doesn’t believe that we can go through and with that type of confidence, with the brand of cricket we play, I firmly believe we can do well.

“We will be underdogs - I understand that and everyone understands that. It’s not a bad place to be really and we’ll use that tag to our advantage. Hopefully we can cause some upsets - as underdogs should do - and progress.”

Erasmus also hopes Namibia’s happy memories and experience from coming through the qualifier in the UAE will work in their favour ahead of their tournament opener against Sri Lanka.

“We’ve played a few high-pressure tournaments in the UAE so we have that feel of the country as a tournament venue and we know the conditions and what to expect, “ he added.

“You need to be ready for anything on the day and in that sense, you need all the skills in your team to fit into a role and then play well in that role and hopefully we have enough.

“I think we definitely do have enough firepower to beat all the other teams in our group and then it’s down to execution on the day, if we play better than the other team we win.”

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