back icon


Bernard Scholtz: Namibia’s ever-dependable backbone

Last updated on 20 Mar 2024 | 02:10 PM
Google News IconFollow Us
Bernard Scholtz: Namibia’s ever-dependable backbone

In a chat with, the Namibian spinner talks about his side’s recent success in global events, his consistency, what he intends to take up after cricket and more

Outside of World Cups, the associate nations have very little cricket to look forward to when it comes to playing against some of the top dogs in world cricket. Even if they qualify, they are often expected to make up the numbers and not really have a say in the larger scheme of things. 

That perception is rapidly changing. Over the last four years, the likes of Scotland and the Netherlands have made it a habit for people to notice them, beating big teams. Namibia are of a similar ilk. 

Namibia have made it to their third T20 World Cup in a row, and in the previous two, they have toppled a few big teams and put up a fight against the others as well. They are the highest-ranked associate side in T20 Internationals (T20I) – even above full-members like Ireland and Zimbabwe.

Also Read - JJ Smit: Namibia’s mainstay for big occasions

Bernard Scholtz is no stranger to playing on the big stage, having accumulated 10 appearances for the Eagles at the T20 World Cup. In fact, his seven wickets in the tournament have come at an average of 26.14 and an economy rate of 6.31 – which are the best for anyone from his side.

“Very exciting for us to go to another World Cup. Since being a little boy it's everyone's dream to play at the biggest stage. To achieve that three times, we've worked a lot. We've gone through a patch, but now to do it three times in a row is really special,” Scholtz told in Kathmandu.

Also Read - JP Kotze: The talent that got away…or did it?

Speaking of his experience of playing at the 2021 and 2022 T20 World Cups, he said, “Really good. It's special. It's where you want to play. You want to test yourself against the best in the world. Getting an opportunity and exposure at that level is really unbelievable. Great to be a part of.”

While Namibia made it to the Super 12s in the 2021 edition, they were just one win away from repeating that the following year. After thrashing Sri Lanka in the tournament opener, they needed a win against either the Dutch or UAE to make it through. 

However, despite their best effort, they fell seven runs short at Kardinia Park to crash out of the tournament.

“Some of us are still hurting because in the other World Cup [2021], we went through to the Super 12, and we got off to a great start against Sri Lanka [in 2022]. We needed to win one more and we couldn't. It still is a bitter pill to swallow, but hopefully we can do better in the next one,” Scholtz recalls.

While Namibia have secured their ticket to the United States and West Indies for the 2024 edition, they have already begun their quest to play the 2027 ODI World Cup in their own backyard.

They have started off with three wins in Nepal, which is not a bad start, given that they lost all their matches there last year and finished fourth in League Two, thereby failing to make the qualifiers. However, this time, they managed to win both their matches against the hosts.

“It is a difficult place [Nepal] to come and play as an away team. They've got great support and they understand the conditions here very well. So, it's difficult to play them here as we saw last time. To get that win against them for very special for us,” Scholtz said.

For Scholtz and his side, playing a World Cup in front of their fans would certainly be the ultimate goal, which perhaps would make them extra motivated to focus on the new cycle of League Two. 

“It's a big one for us, trying to qualify for our own World Cup,” Scholtz said.

“Would be massive for us, if we could. For our whole country, if we can play in our own World Cup - that is a big motivation for us to get into the 2027 World Cup.”

Scholtz was Namibia’s leading wicket-taker in League Two in the previous cycle, where his 49 wickets came at an economy rate of 3.37 and an average of 20.02. To get such results, playing across different countries and continents requires a high level of consistency, which Scholtz believes is key.

“Just trying to bowl few bad balls as possible, make it difficult for the batter, make him try and take the chances. Just trying to do the same - just try and keep it as consistent as possible and bowl good balls,” he said.

A wicket-to-wicket bowler, Scholtz has also taken the responsibility to bowl a little more than he used to in the powerplay in T20Is, a phase often deemed a doom for the slow bowlers. He bowled just nine overs in the first six since his debut in 2019 until the end of 2021. However, since then, he has sent down 28 overs in the phase.

“Very challenging [bowling in powerplay]. It's something I've done more in recent years. But It's also something I look forward to and wanting to do more,” he observes. 

“It's difficult with just two fielders outside the 30-yard circle, but it also brings a chance to get wickets with the new ball. You can bowl a few where you can swing the new ball, but with the older ball you can't swing. But yes, it is very challenging,” he added. 

Scholtz’s brother Nicolaas was one of the driving forces behind him taking up cricket professionally. Nicolaas played at various levels for Namibia for about 14-15 years and tasted great success, further encouraging his younger brother to follow suit.

“He's [Nicolaas] probably the guy I looked up to the most when I started playing. Started in the backyard when we were still small boys,” 33-year-old Scholtz said

“He then started playing for Namibia. He is still a little bit older than me - four years. Since then, I have always wanted to be like him, wanted to play cricket, wanted to play for the national team. He's the reason I started. I was lucky enough to play a lot of years with him, which was special.”

While playing cricket was always part of Scholtz’s plan, he intends to take up farming, like his parents and in-laws, after retirement.

“Cricket was always the main part since I started at Under-15. I was in love with cricket, so I always wanted to do that as a career. Luckily, it panned out that way. Fortunate Cricket Namibia look after us so well to be able to do that as a career. Otherwise, I would have gone to the farm. That is the plan after cricket as well - to go to the farm and start farming,” Scholtz, who played in the 2008 Under-19 World Cup, said.

While Scholtz and Namibia’s success over the years has gone hand-in-hand, there’s no reason why they can’t find greater success at the highest level, starting with the T20 World Cup 2024. With World Cups, potentially every year until 2031, do not be surprised if Namibia become a regular feature. 

They have already shown their mettle in the shortest format, but the next challenge for them is to have a crack at potentially playing the 50-over World Cup someday. 

If they do, they have a historic opportunity of playing on home soil in 2027. As far as motivation comes, there could be nothing that could better this for the Eagles. 

Related Article