Dubai: The stylish mane that David Wiese sports these days give him a modern warrior look - and that’s what he turned into for his adopted country Namibia on Friday evening. The former South African allrounder struck a few telling blows when it mattered most to take the African nation over the line in a winner-takes-all qualifier against battle-hardened Ireland which paved the way for their historic entry into Super-12 stages of T20 World Cup.
In a chat with Gulf News during his quarantine phase in Dubai, Wiese said earlier this month: ‘‘Hopefully, my main role will be to win games for the team. However, I have now become bit of an elder statesman of the game who has also played a lot of cricket in the UAE. While it’s great to contribute to team cause, but it will be also great if I can contribute to someone else’s performance for it’s as important,’’
The 36-year-old’s knowledge of the local conditions was on display on the slow wicket in Sharjah where he had plied his trade enough in Pakistan Super League, to hit two sixes and a four during his 14-ball 28. Not surprisingly, he was chosen the Man of the Match despite a substantial performance from skipper Gerhard Erasmaus, who said it was a proud moment for a small country like them to be able to rub shoulders with the Who’s Who of the game.
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The local cricket community remembers Wiese finishing a PSL game with a last-ball six to seal a chase of 201 for Lahore Qalandars in early 2019. While the surface he was presented with on Friday night could scarcely have been more different, the shot reminded of his clean-striking in that innings. His trademark celebration, a roar with fists clenched above his head after hitting the winning runs, evoked the same night.
It was almost a second coming for this hulk of a allrounder - who had turned out for South Africa in the last edition of T20 World Cup in 2016 only before he signed the Kolpak deal along with a crop of other compatriots like Mornie Morkel, Wayne Parnell and Rilee Rossouw. As a hard-hitting batsman and who is adept at taking pace off his deliveries, Weise was a perfect fit in Sussex County apart from being in demand in franchise cricket.
However, the fire in his belly to shine on the international stage was still there and when Namibia came up with an offer to add Weise’s experience on their roster, he was only too excited. Wiese qualified to play for Namibia thanks to his decent as his father was born there.
‘‘It’s a very special feeling to play in the World Cup again. I thought that my international career was over when I signed the Kolpak deal. However, Namibia showed their faith in me and I really appreciate it,’’ said Wiese, who had represented South Africa in six ODIs and 25 T20Is.
Before the start of the tournament, not many would have given Namibia a chance to be among the top two from their group in the qualifiers ahead of more experienced associate nations like the Dutch and Ireland. As it panned out, Namibia turned the tables on both of them to finish as the second team in the group after Sri Lanka to qualify for the elite stage - and Wiese played a crucial role on both days.
‘‘See, in the shorter format, one or two persons can take the game away from you,’’ Wiese had said - and he was not off the mark. They now have a four-day break before opening their campaign against the other surprise qualifier, Scotland, in Abu Dhabi on October 27.