The 18 games of cut-throat WCL2 cricket once again evoked inspiring performances under pressure. From the late-order hitting of Namibia’s JJ Smit to the cool leadership of Canada’s Davy Jacobs, Windhoek was treated to a strong and entertaining standard of cricket.

To name a Player of the Tournament, Emerging Cricket picked three difference-making players in each match. Our player of the match received three points, with second and third players receiving two points and one points respectively.

The points determined for each match were decided by the Emerging Cricket representative on assignment at each ground. In a nod to the overall talent across the six teams, 40 players across the six teams received Emerging Cricket Player of the Tournament points.

Team of the Tournament

Stephen Baard, Namibia

Baard worked his way into WCL2 gradually, finishing with an average of 44 in his six innings. Seeing off many a new ball pair, he was on hand to lay the foundations for his country, with his 122 from 128 balls against Hong Kong a crucial contribution in their quest for ODI status. It’s perhaps a little unfair to call his near-run-a-ball 122 an anchoring innings, though it helped JP Kotze explode at the other end in his innings of 148 (86).

Namibia should be proud of Baard’s contribution to their cricket, though no one will be as proud of Stephen than his father Julian, who was on hand at every match. Saluting his dad while bringing up his century, Namibian cricket proved to be one big family.

Anshuman Rath, Hong Kong

Rath reflects on his own performance despite Hong Kong’s results.

Anshy Rath was a beacon of light in Hong Kong’s forgettable WCL2 campaign, and finished as the tournament’s highest run-scorer even with his teammates falling around him. Rath made an unbeaten 114 against Canada, as well as scores of 85 against PNG and a knock of 76 (81) that gave Hong Kong hope of a miraculous chase against the hosts. His tally may have even been higher had he not been on the end of possibly the ball of the tournament, with Ali Khan’s in-swinging yorker too much for him and probably anyone in the world.

As skipper Rath will lament the lack of positive body language around his playing group when things were difficult, though to his credit he never showed the same pessimism, remaining up for days on end. Rath also snuck into a tie for first place in our MVP points race, edging JJ Smit for the final point in their match against Namibia.

Kinchit Shah, Hong Kong

Kinchit Shah was another positive performer for Hong Kong, providing with both bat and ball. Having developed his game and now opening the bowling with his off-spin, he also played some key innings with a top score of 56 in their chase against Namibia. Shah’s fighting 45 against the USA showed his grit with the bat. Coming in at 19/1, he was the sixth player to fall in their unsuccessful chase.

Shah was the joint-top wicket-taking spinner at WCL2 with Saad Bin Zafar, with 11 scalps at 18.63. Shah was one of few Hong Kong bowlers who consistently found their line and length with ball in hand across the tournament.

Zeeshan Maqsood, Oman

Zeeshan Maqsood enjoyed fine start to the tournament, leading from the front with bat and supporting with the ball before picking up an injury in their match against Namibia. The skipper played a leader’s knock earlier against Canada, hitting nine fours and four sixes in his 109 (102), only falling in the last over.

Zeeshan had his own left-arm orthodox up his sleeve, which he used to tie things up in the middle overs. He chimed in with six wickets, including the wickets of Stephen Baard and Jean Bredenkamp just when the hosts looked to push on their group game. Going at less than four an over, he was key to Oman’s campaign. After achieving ODI status for the first time during that Namibia match, there’s also no coincidence that Oman lost their impetus with Zeeshan on the sidelines.

Mohammad Nadeem, Oman

Several players fought for this spot, with no less than five players able to make a case. Mohammad Nadeem beat out compatriots Aqib Ilyas and Sandeep Goud through his work with bat and ball, with players like Aaron Jones, Navneet Dhaliwal and JP Kotze also edged out. Nadeem found a way to contribute in all of Oman’s matches with the exception of the final, making just five and not bowling.

Nadeem showed cool for Oman, driving his team home against Hong Kong and keeping cool in a nervy chase against the USA where he entered at 17/3. Unperturbed by his lack of wickets in both matches, Nadeem showed focus to deliver in any way he could for his country, and was an asset in their successful campaign.

Nadeem claimed a four-wicket haul removing several set PNG batsmen in their final group game, as well as a double-wicket salvo against Canada in a win early in the tournament.

Davy Jacobs, Canada (wicket keeper)

The Canadian captain earns a spot here for a fine tournament with bat, gloves and between the ears.

Jacobs lived up to the billing of being a natural-born leader with tactical changes and wit, keeping his team in the tournament until the final over in the league phase. Upon working out the equation to qualify for the top four, Jacobs rung the changes and built pressure through his fielding and bowling plans, only for the 10th wicket American pair to squeeze out of the trap.

Jacobs made three fifties in the tournament (two unbeaten) to average 66 in the tournament, and may look to push himself up the order moving forward.

It must also be noted that the standard of keeping and batsmanship of wicket keepers at WCL2 was at a high level across the board. Kiplin Doriga played a huge role in PNG’s ‘Barramundi Miracle’ against Oman, Zane Green took excellent catches and provided crucial performances with the bat and Suraj Kumar answered several questions for Oman, taking over the role in the lead-up to the tournament.

JJ Smit, Namibia

A deserving winner of WCL2 Player of the Tournament, with match-winning contributions with bat and ball. Former South African international HD Ackerman, who was a member of Namibia’s staff for the tournament, told Emerging Cricket that Smit could do a job for T20 franchises around the world for a fraction of the price of other players. The opinion is shared by many of those who watched him, as he played shots few players at the tournament could play, adding to his quality bowling with the new ball.

Smit opened the defences of several top-orders in the tournament with new ball swing varied with natural angle away from right-hand players, and allowed his teammates to rip through opposition middle orders. On top of that, Smit showed class with the bat, playing shots around the ground with a control and touch that was complimented with power. By the end of his career, we could well see Smit batting in the middle order permanently for his country (and perhaps several T20 outfits if he continues).

Smit was unlucky also not to poll a sixth point in our scoring system, with Anshy Rath’s knock of 76 on the other side edging the left-armer for the final point in the encounter between Namibia and Hong Kong.

Jan Frylinck, Namibia

A man of the match performance in the final against Oman springboarded Frylinck into the team of the tournament. Taking 5-13 in the second innings, Frylinck extracted bounce on a Wanderers deck that had seen a lot of action over the course of WCL2. Frylinck was a new-ball partner to Smit at times, and made a handy contribution or two with the bat, much like the rest of the versatile Namibian side.

Frylinck was a consistent wicket-taker for his side, with three-wicket hauls against Canada, PNG and Oman the first time they played, during the group stage. He was also one of few bowlers to finish with an economy of under 3.5 runs an over.

Saad Bin Zafar, Canada

Spin did not play as much of a factor as many expected coming into the tournament, with groundsmen across the three grounds striving to keep wickets lively for the duration of the tournament. In saying this, Saad Bin Zafar showed control with an economy of around four an over, taking 11 wickets at 18.27. A spell of 4/30 was a highlight for the left-arm orthodox bowler, and he managed to pick up a scalp in every match.

Ali Khan, USA

The leading wicket-taker of the tournament and almost in his own world with ball in hand. The sharpest of the bowlers at the tournament, Ali had nine wickets after the first two days at WCL2, causing headaches for everyone at the other end. He nearly single-handedly kept his side in the game on day one against Oman defending 149, and took three crucial wickets in the second-last over in their narrow victory against Namibia. Crucially, his efforts meant that the USA didn’t need to climb a mountain to finish in the top four.

Ali’s yorker to dismiss Anshy Rath was a crucial moment in the fates of both USA and Hong Kong, and would have dismissed many of the world’s best. He picked up a wicket every 17 balls or so, and would spearhead this Team of the Tournament attack.

Nosaina Pokana, Papua New Guinea

Pokana led a bowling unit that won matches for PNG, with a spell of 5/14 against Oman the turning point in their campaign. Pokana who spent his summer in Brisbane training extensively, caused problems for some of the tournament’s best. Making his performance all the more remarkable, Pokana has come back from suspect action trouble to bring glory to his teammates and ultimately his country.

Even after the ‘Barramundi Miracle’ against Oman, Pokana backed up with a three-wicket haul in their ODI victory against the USA. Extracting bounce from the Affies Park wicket that had been friendly to bat on up to that point, Pokana forced the edge of Xavier Marshall before trapping Steven Taylor in front soon after.

At 23, the tall left-armer looks to have an important role for his country for years to come, and could well be the linchpin to ODI success.

WCL2 MVP Points Leaderboard

Ali Khan 6
Anshy Rath 6
Jan Frylinck 6
Davy Jacobs 5
JJ Smit 5
Stephen Baard 4
Nosaina Pokana 4
Kinchit Shah 4

3 points: Bilal Khan, Fayyaz Butt, Karima Gore, Sandeep Goud, Hiral Patel, Aqib Ilyas, JP Kotze, Zeeshan Maqsood, Xavier Marshall, Tony Ura, Norman Vanua, Craig Williams, Saad Bin Zafar, Assad Vala.

2 points: Khawar Ali, Sese Bau, Navneet Dhaliwal, Aaron Jones, Mohammad Nadeem, Tim Patel, Dillon Heyliger, CJ Amini.

1 point: Kiplin Doriga, Romesh Eranga, Jatinder Singh, Jason Kila, Monank Patel, Saurabh Netravalkar, Nitish Kumar, Cecil Pervez, Suraj Kumar, Steven Taylor.

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