Cricketer by day, quality surveyor by night – Williams enjoying life after overturning 2018 retirement
He wasn’t even supposed to be part of this Namibia team that is featuring in its first ever T20 World Cup. Williams had retired from the game in 2018 to shift his focus on his business and family, but head coach Pierre de Bryun valued his experience so much that he talked Williams out of retirement. Williams, ultimately, made a U-turn on his decision and is now relishing being part of Namibia’s incredible run in the UAE.
“See, I retired for personal reasons. Basically, just business, work, family, kids and there was a lot more responsibility,” Wiliams recalled. “So, it was personal reasons to retire. I’ve said it in previous interviews that when you retire it’s like a dark place and you always have a feeling in your heart that there’s more to offer and when Pierre de Bryun became head coach, we had a meeting in January 2019 and he asked me: ‘Craig, is there a possibility of coming back, returning to assist a very young squad?’ So, I was more than happy to come back.
“I just felt that there was more I could offer. At that stage, I wasn’t sure how much I could play. I really wanted to try and help the youngsters. But I obviously haven’t had injuries and my form has been okay, so it has allowed me to contribute on the field as well. So, reflecting… [it’s] probably the best decision I’ve ever made. It was a tough decision at the time; I had to leave my work, unfortunately the guys…there was no space to play cricket at that level and give that much commitment to cricket and work, so it was very difficult decision to come back. It wasn’t easy. But, in hindsight I’m really glad that myself and my family made that decision to commit again and play.”
Williams was particularly thrilled at the global exposure that Namibia’s players have got at this World Cup. He cited the example of how allrounder David Wiese is now nurturing Namibia youngsters by sharing his experiences of featuring in various T20 tournaments around the world.
“Playing a tournament like this, especially playing in the last 12…the exposure for our guys has been fantastic,” Williams said. “At the end of the day, we want to see our youngsters and our best players playing around the world because then they will bring that exposure and experience that they’ve gained back into our squad and teach our youngsters. So, for example, just having David Wiese – he’s played around the world. The amount of experience he’s brought back into our change room and the lessons that he’s teaching us about how to handle pressure and how to handle playing against the best – it has been fantastic.
“So, we’re hoping that with the last few games some of our guys can show themselves in the world stage and hopefully pick up some deals around the world and then it will be fantastic if we can get the likes of Gerhard Erasmus and JJ and Ruben Trumpelmanns, Bernard Scholtzs – all these guys playing around the world. Still looking for the first Namibian to play in the IPL (laughs). So, hopefully after this tournament, we can get one of those deals on the table.”
“Our conditions back home in Windhoek aren’t flat, quick wickets; they are quite low and slow,” Williams said. “So, we’ve done really well in the five series back home before coming to the World Cup against good spin attacks on low, slow wickets. So, we’ve put in really good preparation and we’ve put in extreme amount of analysis into the opposition and we’ve worked on individual game-plans for each batsman, so I think sitting where we are tonight, we’re in a very good place. Anything can happen in T20 cricket and we’ve played Afghanistan many, many times in the past. We know what they can do – so it’s just about on the day being able to handle the nerves and execute plans put in place.
“So, in terms of playing spin, we’re extremely confident against spin. It’s just a matter of being able to execute your plan on that day against the best in the world because you know that’s who we are playing against.”
Cricketer by day. Quality surveyor by night. Williams says that juggling between the two jobs can be challenging, but he’s prepared for greater responsibility as Namibia plan to go deep in the tournament.
Deivarayan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo