T20 World Cup: David Wiese, the cricketer who played for two nations

By Kal SajadBBC Sport
David Wiese playing for South Africa
David Wiese has taken 27 wickets and averages 11.20 with the bat in 23 Twenty20 internationals
ICC Men's T20 World Cup
Venue: United Arab Emirates & Oman Dates: 17 October - 14 November
Coverage: Commentary on every game on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra. Text commentary, in-play clips and video highlights from 23 October on BBC Sport website and app

When David Wiese lines up for Namibia against Sri Lanka in Abu Dhabi on Monday, it will be his second consecutive T20 World Cup.

While that in itself is not extraordinary, there is a twist: as he represented South Africa - the country of his birth - last time round.

So how does a cricketer manage to play for two different nations?

Speaking to BBC Sport, the 36-year-old reveals how his inclusion in Namibia's squad came about, discusses the differences between playing for the two African countries and explains the impact he is hoping to have on the future of Namibian cricket.

From South Africa to Namibia, via Sussex

Born in Roodepoort in Gauteng Province, seam-bowling all-rounder Wiese made his international debut in 2013 and went on to play in six one-day-internationals and 20 Twenty20 internationals for South Africa.

But representing Namibia was always on Wiese's radar.

"My family comes from Namibia. My dad was born there and I still have family there, so my ties are quite deep," he says.

"Even before I got selected for South Africa, I'd had conversations with Cricket Namibia."

Although Wiese played three matches at the 2016 World T20, he failed to cement his place in the side, and then signed a three-year-deal with Sussex under the Kolpak ruling.

It meant although he did not count as an overseas player for his new county, he could no longer play international cricket, which effectively ended his South Africa career.

Following Brexit, Kolpak registrations were terminated and Wiese was free to return to international cricket. Namibia came knocking.

"I had some good conversation with coaches Pierre de Bruyn and Albie Morkel, who I know quite well. I felt so fortunate and grateful," says Wiese, who made his Namibia debut this month in a 17-run win over the United Arab Emirates.

Connecting with Namibian roots

Playing for Namibia is more than simply a route back to international cricket for Wiese - it is about connecting with his roots.

"Namibia is quite a desert country and my family side came from struggles, so I want to be able to go and give back to the nation a little bit," he says.

"I feel my dad is more proud of me playing for his home country than when I did for South Africa. He won't ever say it but I just feel it."

Namibia finished fourth in the 2019 T20 World Cup qualifying tournament to book their place in Group A of the main competition, alongside Sri Lanka, Ireland and the Netherlands.

Wiese feels a giant-killing against a Test-playing nation could catapult Namibian cricket and its players to greater heights.

"On any given day, any person in the team can take the game away from the opposition and put in a winning performance," he says.

"Two man-of-the-match performances and we're into the Super 12s. That means we don't have to qualify for next year's T20 World Cup, which is massive for the future and Namibia cricket keeps its funding.

"Also, if we perform now on the national stage, maybe one or two of the guys pick up some overseas T20 gigs, and then it can have a snowball effect on youngsters taking on the game."

'The humbleness of the scrapping underdog'

David Wiese playing for London Spirit
Wiese played for London Spirit in this summer's inaugural men's Hundred competition and helped Sussex reach T20 Blast Finals Day

A potential fixture against South Africa awaits, should Namibia make it through Group A.

It would be a remarkable story for Wiese, but he says "there is a much bigger picture".

Wiese explains: "The big win would be for Namibia cricket and for them to no longer be seen as an underdog, one of the lesser played teams in Africa.

"That is more important in my eyes than me playing against South Africa."

Wiese also notes the contrasts between playing for the two countries, and believes the "humbleness" of Namibia's players and their tough route to a major tournament has given him a new-found appreciation for the game.

"The one thing I've noticed is that guys here don't take anything for granted," he says.

"Coming from Namibia and being an associate nation, they're used to fighting and scrapping, doing the hard, tough yards to get anywhere."

Which Namibia players should we look out for?

Wiese, who has played for 16 teams in his 16-year professional career, says he was "welcomed with open arms" by his new Namibia team-mates and hopes to impart his wisdom and experience on its younger members.

As for the team itself, Wiese believes every member of the squad can contribute a match-winning performance, but highlights a few players who could shine in the tournament.

"Our captain, Gerhard Erasmus, has been the mainstay - he's held the team together and put in strong performance," says Wiese.

"Our young wicketkeeper and opening batter Zane Green comes in and gives it a good whack - he's a good prospect.

"We've got some good left-arm spinners and Jan Frylinck, a left-arm seamer who also comes from South Africa, and then JJ Smit is a talented all-rounder.

"We've got all our bases covered."

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