Namibia’s rise in world cricket is there for everyone to see. Not too long ago, they did not have any proper structure in place but in the last three years or so, they have secured ODI status, are on the verge of playing the 50-over World Cup Qualifiers and are now set to play their second T20 World Cup in as many years.
Namibia stunned the world when the beat the Netherlands and Ireland in the previous edition to make the Super 12s, through which they have qualified for this years’ mega event in Australia as well.
Ruben Trumpelmann was brought into the Namibian system to provide the side with pace and ability to penetrate the batting line-up with his swing. An opportunity to play in a World Cup is what every cricketer dreams of and the fast bowler is no different. Trumpelmann, who qualifies to play for Namibia as his father was born there, has taken to international cricket like fish to water.
“If you look back at it, playing in a World Cup is always a big motivation. If you ask any young boy growing up playing cricket if you can play a World Cup is a big motivator,” Trumpelmann told Cricket.com.
“In that sense, you want to play at the international stage and want to compete. You want to be playing the best people in the world and in that sense Namibia gave me a chance.”
Trumpelmann wreaked havoc in the last World cup where he floored Scotland in the Super 12, picking up three wickets in an over. Thanks to his feat, Namibia, who had already scripted history by making it to the main round, went one step further to win their first game at that level as well.
Recalling his spell, Trumpelmann says, “It's something I didn't expect, it's something that doesn't happen that often I’ve played for a long time, I've never had an over like that before that and I’ve never had one after that.
“So, it's one of those overs that just happens and everything just clicked and got my team off to a flyer which is awesome. We got out first Super 12 victory. That's the important thing: breaking down boundaries and going forward in that regard. No complains in that regard, that ticks it all.”
Albie Morkel played a pivotal role in getting Trumpelmann, a student at the University of Pretoria, into the Namibian set-up alongside David Wiese. However, the team has been well-oiled thanks to the efforts put in by Pierre de Bruyn over the years, in tandem with Morkel.
"Pierre brings a lot of structure towards the team. With him, he just gives you direction, focuses on the direction you're heading into,” the 24-year-old said.
“On the other hand, Albie is more of a relaxed guy, you can have a good conversation with him, always open and always up for a good laugh with the immense amount of information he can give you to help you grow your career having played on the big stage across the world.”
Coaches aside, it is vital for any bowler to be in sync with his skipper. After all, they are going to be one the field to execute all that was discussed off the field. Gerhard Erasmus has led by example and is one of the reasons for Namibia’s rise.
Despite breaking his finger in the last year’s World Cup, he soldiered on and had his surgery only after Namibia’s campaign ended.
“He's someone who backs you on the field. He's got exceptional cricket knowledge, he's a student of the game. He loves studying the opposition and finding the best way forward for the team to win,” the Durban-born pacer said.
“With what we have, you need to work with what your strengths are and that's something he really focusses on. As a player, it's really nice to know that you're backed to your strength, your areas, which allows you to perform to the best of your ability.”
Juggling studies and cricket is something many young players have to contend with if they are to make it big. In a chat with Cricket.com, UAE vice-captain Vriitya Aravind too recalled how he did so, right from his Under-19 days where he even gave mock exams while on the World Cup in South Africa in 2020.
Support from your school or university plays a huge role. Whether you make it big or not as a cricketer is a different story altogether, and Trumpelmann reckons that the course they take up helps them in life after cricket, whenever that might be.
“I am a lucky that there was a great support system at the University of Pretoria. They allowed me to pursue my cricketing career as well as study. I think that's important for every player around the world, especially for a young player to have a back-up because you have no guarantees whether you can make it or not,” Trumplemann, who is particularly inspired by Mitchell Johnson’s fierce on-field display, feels.
“Even though you're going to make it, what are you going to do after that? They gave me a platform to actually do that. Hopefully, I can use my studies in the future to create for myself some different business opportunities in my life after cricket, even though that might be just 10 years away!”
Namibia are not short of left-arm pace options. They have four in their squad - Trumpelmann, JJ Smit, Jan Frylinck, Tangeni Lungameni - and you throw in the left-arm spin option of Bernard Scholtz there and their attack might give an impression that it is fairly one-dimensional. However, Trumpelmann assures that’s not the case.
“I got a bit more pace than the other three [left-arm pacers] so I'm bit more of a strike bowler. But each one of us are different in our own way, we bring our own element into the game and that makes it special. It's nice to actually have a few left-armers to talk to,” Trumpelmann, who has secured his first franchise T20 League contract with the Desert Vipers in the ILT20, said.
“A lot of time you're the only left-armer in the team and you have no one to bounce your ideas with. We four like to work together, find the best mix with each bringing their own element. So, that's awesome.”
Namibia play their three matches in Geelong, against Sri Lanka, Netherlands UAE and have been in Australia since the last week of September to acclimatise with the conditions.
“Sri Lanka just came off an Asia Cup win. I think we're excited for the challenge once again. We'll be more prepared from a mental point of view of what to expect. In the first game [last World Cup] we were caught out, but this time I don't think that'll be the case. We're really up for the challenge,” Trumpelmann said of Namibia’s opponents.
“The Netherlands and UAE are two quality sides that's the reason they are in the World Cup, we will play them accordingly. We respect them as teams and they have players that can take the game away from you, so we need to respect that as well. At the end of the day, our goal will be to get to the Super 12 and that's the expectations for us from the team as well.”
The expectations from Namibia could be a tad higher this time around given their impressive show last year. It will be no different for Trumpelmann who will hope to add to his six wickets from the previous edition as he looks to bamboozle batters once again.