Kolkata: Remember David Weise, the hulk of a South African allrounder and white ball specialist who had been a regular in the T20 franchises? Four years after giving up on his international career after having signed a Kolpak deal with English county Sussex, the veteran is braced for his second coming - albeit in a Namibia shirt.
When the African nation steps out to take on Sri Lanka in their opening game in the first stage of T20 World Cup in Abu Dhabi on October 18, the 36-year-old Weise is expected to play the big brother in a squad built around rookies - and he is quite relishing the prospect of being in the international arena once again. Weise, who had played the last edition of World T20 in 2016 in Proteas colours, qualified to play for Namibia thanks to his decent as his father was born there.
Namibia, on paper, look the underdogs in Group A where they have been clubbed with Sri Lanka, former World T20 winners in 2014, alongwith the battle-hardened Ireland and Netherlands. Two teams from each group in the first round will qualify for the Super-12 stage, which gets underway in the UAE on October 23.
‘‘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 Weise, who had represented South Africa in six ODIs and 25 T20Is.
Speaking to Gulf News during an exclusive interview on zoom, Weise said on a lighter vein that being a sort of ‘elder statesman’ of the team, he is mentally prepared to play the player-mentor’s role for the side being captained by Gerhard Erasmus. ‘‘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,’’ he said from Dubai, where the team will be playing six warm-up games as part of the preparation.
Asked for a realistic assessment of his team’s chances of qualifying for the next stage, Weise said the T20 format always gives teams who are a bit of unknown quantity a fair chance. ‘‘See, the shoter the format, one or two persons can take the game away from you. We open against Sri Lanka - a team full of wll known international players,but we have trained hard for the tournament. It’s all about the execution on the ground and I feel you can win on a given day,’’ he said.
A medium pace bowler who is adept at taking pace off his deliveries, Weise is also a competent middle order batsman capable of hitting the big lofted drives. He had also been a part of IPL as well with Royal Challengers Bangalore during 2015-16 and feels that the T20 cricket has undergone a dramatic transformation over the past decade. ‘‘The way players have developed their skillsets to stay ahead of the game had been unbelievable. You couldn’t have imagined a batsman hitting a reverse slog sweep to a bowler bowling at 140 kmph, while the spin bowlers have got two to three deliveries. It leaves one wondering as to what’s next,’’ he felt.
Finally, any chances of him catching up with the RCB camp, who have qualified for the IPL play-offs and are based in Dubai? ‘‘Unfortunately, we are very tight with the bubbles here and I don’t think can catch up with them. I keep in touch with some of them through messages etc.
‘‘ The IPL had been a massive learning curve for me - playing with top professionals like AB (De Villiers), Chris Gayle, Mithcell Starc, Shane Watson and of course Virat Kohli. There used to be a lot of meaningful conversations - while Daniel Vettori was the head coach. If you train with them, you realise how high
the benchmark they set for themselves,’’ he added.
Weise at a glance
Born: May 18, 1985, Roodepoort, South Africa
Nationality: South African
Playing style: Right-handed batsman, right arm medium pace
Teams: Namibia, South Africa