x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 21 September 2017

UAE cricket coach Dougie Brown refuses to take Namibia lightly

Years after guiding Namibia to 2003 World Cup, Brown nevertheless is wary of proud opponents despite their underwhelming performances lately.

UAE fast bowler Mohammed Naveed is on a career high at the moment. Satish Kumar / The National
UAE fast bowler Mohammed Naveed is on a career high at the moment. Satish Kumar / The National

Intercontinental Cup

Namibia v UAE Saturday Sep 16-Tuesday Sep 19

Table 1 Ireland, 89 points; 2 Afghanistan, 81; 3 Netherlands, 52; 4 Papua New Guinea, 40; 5 Hong Kong, 39; 6 Scotland, 37; 7 UAE, 27; 8 Namibia, 27

Fourteen years after coaching them at a World Cup while still officially a player, Dougie Brown will bid to get the better of Namibia with the UAE this week.

Brown was the Namibia coach at the 2003 World Cup in South Africa, during his off-season from county cricket.

Now the Scotsman is set for a bittersweet reunion. After a celebration reuniting the members of that squad in Windhoek this weekend, Brown will be overseeing the UAE’s Intercontinental Cup and World Cricket League fixtures against the Namibians.

 

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In 2003, Namibian sport was on a high, with both their cricket and rugby teams playing at a World Cup in the same year.

The fortunes have waned of late. They sit bottom of the table for the four-day Intercontinental Cup, albeit level on points with the UAE, who are one place higher.

“In 2003 they were on the crest of the two World Cups, and the place was really rocking,” Brown said.

“Things are slightly different now. Obviously, they’re not playing for the World Cup, but they are still a very proud nation, and I’m sure, with that in mind, the games we have will be hotly contested.”

Brown’s insider knowledge should be a valuable asset for a UAE side who will be confronted by conditions they are entirely unused to.

Windhoek is 5,600ft above sea level. Brown says playing at altitude is a challenge, which is part of the reason they had a preparatory tour to Pretoria, which is at 4,400ft, last week.

 

Brown's Namibian safari

 

“We carry some good form into this series, both individually and collectively, but saying that we are still going to have to play well,” Brown said.

“[Playing at altitude] feels as if someone has taken away one of your lungs. When you run, it is hard. If a batsmen ran a three, then another three next ball, they would be blowing really hard.

“It was important to bridge the gap in Pretoria, and it gave us a good sounding board. We did some good conditioning work so that when we do get into the game, we are attuned to it.”

The UAE’s fast bowlers, in particular, will feel the effects of the extended workloads they have to bear during the Intercontinental Cup match.

However, Mohammed Naveed, the team’s fastest bowler, is aiming to impress, fuelled by a sense of achievement.

 

Mohammed Naveed shares a spot with India's Ravichandran Ashwin in the T20 ranking. Dinuka Liyanawatte / Reuters
Mohammed Naveed shares a spot with India's Ravichandran Ashwin in the T20 ranking. Dinuka Liyanawatte / Reuters

 

Naveed has made good on a long-held ambition by making it into the top 10 of the rankings for bowlers in international Twenty20 cricket.

After the latest update to the standings, he is level on ratings points with Indian spinner Ravichandran Ashwin in 10th place. “This is my dream,” Naveed said.