Albie Morkel took up the role of assistant coach at Namibia soon after retiring from all cricket in 2019. The former South Africa all-rounder has now overseen Namibia's progress to the Super 12s in its first-ever T20 World Cup. Morkel speaks to Sportstar about what this feat means for the associate nation, his transition from player to coach and the road ahead for Namibian cricket.
Namibia has done a commendable job at its first T20 World Cup. How special was it to progress to the Super 12s?
Three words, emotional, proud and relieved. That was always our goal to try and get to the super 12s. We were in a real tough group, and the two wins against Netherlands and Ireland really made the hard work and sacrifices leading up to the World Cup worth it. We also knew that we have a great chance to beat Scotland in the Super 12s, so once again the boys dug deep and put in a memorable performance.
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Namibia is participating in a World Cup after 18 years. What will this feat mean for the next generation of youngsters?
Namibia is a sport-loving nation. But for a sport to grow, the kids or next-generation need heroes to look up to. They certainly have 16 heroes to look up to now. I'm sure with the right guidance and development, cricket will go from strength to strength.
You and head coach Pierre de Bruyn go back a long way. Tell us something about the dressing room chemistry.
We played professional cricket together for many years. I think what makes our relationship work is that we are completely different people but with the same values. We respect each other's views. The opportunity came when I retired from cricket three years ago. It was an easy decision to get involved. After all, I love the game and felt that I could make a difference.
What are your impressions of all-rounder David Wiese?
What a tournament David is having! He has performed on the biggest stage and has put his name on the shopping list again of franchise teams around the world. David is an ultimate professional, and his performances don't surprise me. He adds massive value to our team on and off the field.
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You were one of the key players for South Africa during your playing days. You also represented CSK in the IPL. What were your learnings from these phases of your career that have helped you now?
I was very fortunate to be involved in successful teams and organisations. So I’ve got a good understanding of what it takes to create a winning culture. I learned from the best and you can apply these lessons to sport and in life.
How has the transition been for you, from a player to a coach? What's the best part about the job?
I am enjoying the challenge of trying to make a difference from the other side of the rope. I guess as a player, you have many regrets and make many mistakes. So, I'm trying to let players learn from my mistakes so they can avoid making the same ones. Like playing, coaching also has a lot of ups and downs, and the challenge is to try and stay calm and consistent in those moments.