2024 T20 WC: Wiese’s second innings added meaning to Namibian cricket | Crickit
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2024 T20 WC: Wiese’s second innings added meaning to Namibian cricket

Jun 16, 2024 06:48 PM IST

The former South Africa all-rounder’s experience from the T20 franchise circuit worked wonders for Namibia on the global stage

It was only fitting that David Wiese’s final appearance in international cricket wasn’t run-of-the-mill. Never a conformist in the cricket world, the Namibia all-rounder walked out to bat replacing the retired-out Nikolaas Davin – the first such instance in T20 World Cup history – to try and push for a win in the rain-reduced 10-over contest against England on Saturday.

Namibia's David Wiese plays a shot against Scotland during an ICC Men's T20 World Cup cricket match at Kensington Oval in Bridgetown(AP)
Namibia's David Wiese plays a shot against Scotland during an ICC Men's T20 World Cup cricket match at Kensington Oval in Bridgetown(AP)

The equation was so steep that despite his long levers and years of experience, Wiese couldn’t mark his international swansong with an unlikely win for the less fancied African nation. But England players had experienced enough of Wiese’s power-hitting on the franchise circuit; they lined up to applaud him on the way back to the dressing room when he fell to Jofra Archer in the final over.

At 39, Wiese’s retirement call to stay fresh for the last leg of his franchise career is understandable. But the Johannesburg-born former South Africa player had no hope that there would be a second wind to his international career when he signed a Kolpak contract in 2017.

Citing his Namibian roots, then head coach Albie Morkel promised to get his international career back on track. And the difference the powerful all-rounder made to Namibia’s fortunes will be fondly remembered.

With two Player-of-the-Match awards, Wiese helped Namibia qualify for the Super 12s in the 2021 T20 World Cup. In 2022, Namibia won a T20I series in Zimbabwe. Wiese became the Super Over hero in Namibia’s first match of this World Cup against Oman – he smashed two fours and bowled the match-winning Super Over.

Back in the summer of 2015, Wiese was achieving such feats against the big boys in a South Africa jersey. A career-best five-for against West Indies in a T20I highlighted his medium-pace smarts for the format and earned him a Proteas berth in the 2016 T20 World Cup. The power-hitting always helped him stand out in the crowd. But at the time, there were way too many all-rounders in South Africa queuing up to fill the vacancy caused by Jacques Kallis’ retirement. Wiese knew he didn’t have Kallis’ flair with the bat nor his ability to swing with the ball. One of Wiese’s biggest strengths was his pragmatism. Ignoring critics, he went the Kolpak way.

He found his calling, at least financially, as he began playing in global T20 leagues as a freelance cricketer. In 2016, Royal Challengers Bengaluru gave him his first IPL contract for US$460,000. After that, offers never stopped.

Wiese could write a thesis on not taking the beaten path. He also does not mind highlighting the challenges being on-the-road as a freelance cricketer bring.

“Last year, I spent about six days at home for the first eight months of the year. You don’t have to play so many tournaments. But I am in the twilight of my career and so I took that as a challenge. But it does get tough...after the third or fourth tournament you start questioning if you are sacrificing too much,” he said in a TalkSport podcast. “My dogs bark at me as they have got no clue who I’m anymore. But that shows me that they are still doing their job.”

Wiese hopes to maintain the same level of performance in the franchise set-up for at least a few more years. “I mean, the next T20 World Cup is still two years away. So, in terms of international cricket, I don’t know if there’s much left in me,” he told reporters on Saturday. “I would still like to play the game for a couple more years, I feel like I’ve still got a lot to contribute and a lot to play. But what better place than to end a special career for me personally with Namibia. I’ve had a lot of good times with them and to play my last game for them possibly at a World Cup against a world-class team like England, it just seemed like the right time.”

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