ICL: Indian Cricket League

Snyman desperate for success


Snyman Gerrie Snyman is one of those infuriating sportsmen who undersells his own talent. Worse still, he’s converted himself from an opening bowler who occasionally bats to an allrounder who hits the ball thunderously hard and yet still bowls in the mid-eighties with a braced front leg. He alone hasn’t been able to lift Namibia’s one-day form, however, and although they are still within yelling distance of reaching the World Cup in 2011, the team have been a disappointment so far.

Until, that is, they out-played UAE on Saturday at the picture-postcard LC de Villiers ground, the sort of win which Snyman, relaxing in his hotel with a coffee and a cigarette, had expected of his team more consistently in the first round. “We have to play out of our skins to qualify. If we play like we did yesterday, we can reach the top four. And we really should have played like that in the first round.”

They didn’t, and it was a surprise. Granted, Namibia are not the world’s most renowned cricketing nation, but they have gradually begun to put in place key development programmes, all without the help of the government. As befits the nation, their cricketers are tough, outdoor people; rugged and ruthless. Their four-day form in last year’s Intercontinental Cup initially raised eyebrows, but that was soon replaced by an acceptance that their standards had rapidly improved in the past two years. They fell to Ireland in the final, though there was no shame in that.

“I reckon we are a better one-day side than in four-day cricket,” Snyman says. “People see us differently, thinking we’re better four-day side. We don’t know why. The whole Namibia is a strong set-up of hard hitting batsman. But in four-day cricket, we got so used to playing long innings, long patient knocks, that we’re been behind the rate the whole time [in this tournament]. In one-day cricket, you have 50 overs you have to go after the bowlers and make use of the first fifteen.

“We’re fit and our preparation was perfect. We played a lot before we came here and were in good nick - I don’t know if it [poor form] was the pressure or not. Half of the team has been in this situation before so we should be able to take it.”

Namibia’s developmental story is depressingly familiar. No money. Not a dime is offered by the government and only the occasional sponsor is interested in opening their wallets, which goes some way to explaining why their training regime is so rigidly enforced: results are craved desperately. The more they win, the greater chance they have of an exponential increase in funding by the ICC. Money alone isn’t enough, though - just look at Bermuda’s last calamitous four years, in spite of US$11m in funding. Importantly, Namibia have looked to their neighbours South Africa for help.

“We play in their three-day tournament then have a one-dayer directly after. Our preparation has been great,” says Snyman. “Some of the boys, though, had to work, and couldn’t be at all the games, which made it a little bit difficult. I’m lucky to be semi-pro. This is all I do. Playing in South Africa is really helping and we’re using a lot of youngsters to play in that set-up so they can see what it’s all about, so they’re not thrown into the deep end.

“Money is the key though. The professionalism is sort of there - not exactly where it should be but nearly - and we practice in the morning, have training and gym sessions and so on, then the national training sessions begin at 5.30pm and goes to 8pm. Other guys come from work and have to practice. So it’s a hard set-up. There is some money from sponsors and so on, but if we get into the top six or four of this tournament it’ll all change. Everything will change. Development programmes, you name it. At the moment, if you take Scotland and Ireland they have the money to get in pros who’ve played county cricket. That just takes their set-up and quality up a notch.”

Snyman’s own quality has ratcheted up several notches in the last six years. In 2003, his batting was little more than an after-thought, yet the name Snyman is now synonymous with power-hitting in Associate cricket.

“I’ve been a quick bowler all my life who became a batsman through really hard work, practicing on my gameplans. I’ve worked so hard on it,” he says. “If you want to make the top sides, you can’t just go in as a bowler. I think it was in 2004 or 2005 when Andy Waller [the former Zimbabwean batsmen who coached Namibia ] sat me down. ‘If you want to become a batsman’, he said, ‘this is what you should do’. He just made it clear that you play your game. If it’s in your slot, hit it. He took my natural ability to hit the ball and made me into a better batsman rather than a slogger.”

Snyman was the third-leading run-scorer in last year’s Intercontinental Cup, top-scoring with a brutal 230. His game now rounded, Snyman’s aspirations are also heading up.

“I’ve had a few trial games for Worcestershire and Warwickshire and would definitely love to play county cricket,” he says. “Namibia has always stood in the way. I’d have to give up Namibia if I want to go in that direction, which I don’t want to do yet. But I have to spread my wings [at some point]; I have to go where the money is if I want to become a proper professional cricketer. If we qualify, it’ll be the biggest step up ever. Funding will increase big-time from the ICC, massively.”

Talking of money, several IPL players are staying at the same hotel as many of these Associates. Snyman has yet to draw on their wisdom, though is in the curious position of having breakfast a few tables away from Glenn McGrath each morning. The disparity between the two forms of cricket, not to mention the players’ wallets themselves, could not be greater.

“It’s something you want to work towards,” he says, though with a hesitancy that suggests he realises his chances of pocketing millions are, for now, slim. “I mean, it’s the perfect tournament, the ideal sort of cricket. You’ve got four overs to bowl, then you smash the ball as hard as you can. Perfect cricket! And it’s well paid.”

Is he envious? Is he heck. “Well, yeah. We’re all human. It’s a bit odd seeing these guys walking about earning millions.”

He re-iterates the need for him and Namibia to focus on the next week, one which could see them qualify for the World Cup or, no less significantly, reach the top six and earn ODI status and several thousand dollars of ICC funding. “The government can offer the soccer players $11-12m to play football. We get zero. Nada. And we’re one of the top sports in the country. Cricket is struggling.

“We just have to qualify to get the game up there.”

Source:Cricket News

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