Namibia wants Indo-Pak domestic teams in their global league
Bengal were denied permission by BCCI to compete in a four-team event in the southern African country but the Associates have a fresh plan for next year
No Pakistani cricketer has played in IPL after the inaugural edition in 2008. Bilateral cricket between the neighbours has remained frozen for years. Any cricket exchange between India and Pakistan is limited to ICC events. Cricket lightweights Namibia though managed a breakthrough of sorts—almost.
Two-time Ranji Trophy champions Bengal had named their squad for a four-team T20 competition–Global T20 Namibia—also involving Pakistan Super League champions Lahore Qalandars. Then realisation struck that Bengal hadn’t secured necessary permissions from the Board of Control for Cricket in India. The Indian board bars state teams or its players from featuring in any foreign T20 league.
“The purpose wasn’t to have the two against one another. But it’s not something that happens quite often and it would have been great to see teams from the two countries in the competition,” said Cricket Namibia CEO Johan Muller. “We approached Bengal and they expressed interest to come. But BCCI has a policy and we respect that.”
Namibia, who impressed in their maiden World Cup appearance in the UAE last year, want to use the tournament to prepare for the upcoming edition in Australia.
The Associate nation has another formula to introduce an Indian outfit in its league next year without violating BCCI norms. “We have spoken with BCCI president Sourav Ganguly about the possibility of having an Indian team for next year in an ODI competition. We are told it’s something we have to apply for.”
With the global ODI calendar limited to international cricket and 50-overs cricket no longer a vehicle for commercial growth, the organisers of the league are hopeful. For Namibia, raising the standard of their ODI cricket is a priority. It has been awarded rights to co-host the 2027 ODI World Cup with South Africa and Zimbabwe.
“We are very keen to host the World Cup because it gives us a chance to put Namibia on the map. For that we have to qualify first,” said Muller. To build a competitive outfit that can strengthen their World Cup qualification hopes, plans are afoot to appoint a high-performance manager. The multi-team league is being developed into an annual affair.
“It is the start of the season for the sub-continent and for South Africa. It serves as a warm up for them, so they too value the opposition,” said Muller. Johannesburg based-DP World Lions and Namibia's national developmental team, Richelieu Eagles, will compete in what will become a triangular league this year, starting September 1.
“We targetted franchise teams, but did not create another T20 commercial competition because the player salaries become so high that for an Associate member like us, it becomes a huge financial risk,” he said. “Our idea was to have high-quality competition so that with all the talent we have in Namibia which we saw during the World Cup, they get some exposure. Many of our players can that way be selected in leagues around the world. The World Cup last year opened up a new dimension for us.”
Namibia beat Netherlands and Ireland in the initial rounds of the 2021 T20 World Cup to qualify for the Super 12 stage where they had another victory to cap an impressive Cup debut.