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Last Updated:  Thursday, 27 February, 2003, 11:53 GMT
Minnows 'need pro status'
By Martin Gough
BBC Sport in Potchefstroom

Namibia coach Dougie Brown (left)
Brown (left) played nine one-day matches for England
Kenya struck a blow for the minnows of international cricket this week with their upset victory over Sri Lanka, but the win was no surprise for Dougie Brown, coach of fellow tiddlers Namibia.

But Brown believes a single victory does little to narrow the gulf between teams at the top of the international game and the chasing pack of associate members.

"To see a team we know we can compete with beating a Test nation is great - the team have taken heart from it," said Brown, whose side lost 3-1 to Kenya in a hard-fought one-day series in Namibia last year.

"One of the minnows was always going to over-turn someone.

"We had a chance against England but we couldn't quite take it."

We're a group of doctors, nurses and electricians
Namibia coach Dougie Brown

Namibia, the fourth African nation in the tournament, have put up an impressive display so far, having England in trouble for much of a rain-threatened 55-run defeat in Port Elizabeth.

Pakistan also found the going anything but easy against Namibia's bowlers in Kimberley, although they subsequently reduced the batting line-up to 84 all out.

But, while the World Cup is littered with Davids who have taken on Goliaths with nothing more than leather and willow, it is no reliable indicator of a solid improvement in standards.

Brown admits there is only one way to gain a professional standard, and become capable of finishing matches off after laying down the gauntlet, and that is to become professional.

"To have professional standards you have to be paid all the time," he said.

"We're a group of doctors, nurses and electricians."

Home series in the last year against Kenya and Bangladesh have helped improve the level of experience.

But perhaps the deciding factor was Namibia's inclusion in the Standard Bank Cup - South Africa's domestic one-day competition - in the run-up to the World Cup.

If we had come into the World Cup blind we would have been annihilated
Namibia coach Dougie Brown

Brown, who appeared for Scotland before playing nine one-day internationals in English colours, believes that his own country will benefit from a similar plan in the National League.

"We learned a lot from the Standard Bank experience," he said.

"In four of the five games we were 20 or 30 runs ahead of the game at halfway but the lack of professional discipline enabled the other sides to get back in each one.

"If we had come into the World Cup blind we would have been annihilated."

Other plans are in place as part of the International Cricket Council's development programme, which saw Brown appointed by programme head, Bob Woolmer.

Brown's former Warwickshire coach hopes to introduce two and three-day domestic cricket to associate member countries, with the aim of improving the standard of batting - currently lagging behind bowling ability.

There are plans for an intercontinental cup, featuring composite sides playing an extended version of the game.

Expect to see a super-minnow team at the 2004 ICC Champions Trophy. Woolmer has even lobbied for 16 teams to be admitted to World Cup 2007.

Just do not use a win for one of those minnows in the Caribbean as solid proof that standards are improving across the board.

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