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Bas de Leede, a Dutch clutch master

Last updated on 06 Jul 2023 | 05:48 PM
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Bas de Leede, a Dutch clutch master

The Dutch all-rounder went on to put on a show in Bulawayo, becoming only the fourth player to score a ton and pick up a fifer in an ODI

Yet another World Cup Qualifiers and yet another heartbreak for Scotland as they fail to progress to the mega event in India. Everything seemed to be in their favour before they ran into a determined Netherlands side, who not just had to win the match, but had to win the match handsomely.

When the world is going gaga over Bazball, at Bulawayo, the world witnessed an equally effective Bas-ball and was left in awe as a 23-year-old Bas de Leede went on to show what makes him the Clutch master.

De Leede over the years has produced some match-winning performances with both bat and ball, but against Scotland, he brought both his skillset into play and how! His fifer and a century is hands down one of the best all-round performances in ODIs and the stage he chose to put it together was perhaps what defines him best.

When he came into bat, the Dutch were in a decent position after the platform set by openers Max O’Dowd and Vikramjit Singh. However, Scotland continued to choke the Dutch in the middle overs and the loss of wickets at regular intervals did not help. The biggest loss of those was that of skipper Scott Edwards, who had slammed four fifties in from his previous five innings.

He, however, found an unlikely ally in Saqib Zulfiqur. One would have thought someone like Logan van Beek would have batted above him given that Netherlands needed 114 runs more to win in 13 overs. The fact that he also took the West Indies bowlers apart earlier in the tournament should have ideally given him the benefit of the doubt. De Leede too had not done anything earth-shattering, batting on 47 off 52. It certainly looked as though it was Scotland’s match to lose. From there on de Leede broke loose. He had to.

Once he got to his fifty off 55, his next 50 runs came in the blink of an eye, eventually getting to his maiden ton off just 84 deliveries. With 45 needed off the last four overs for a berth in the World Cup, de Leede and Zulfiqur reached their target with seven balls to spare.

De Leede made his debut for the Netherlands incidentally in the 2018 World Cup Qualifiers, where his side took on Papua New Guinea (PNG) for a seventh-place play-off semi-final. Five years on, he leads from the front with his display to take his side to the World Cup itself.

The ten-team World Cup is cruel on the associates, especially when they have to compete with full-members like Sri Lanka, West Indies, Ireland and Zimbabwe for just two spots. The move has been criticised by many as it leaves associate teams with very little to no chance of making it through. The Netherlands making it to the main draw is a message that the associates are getting better and they are not just there to make the numbers but to beat top teams as well.

Scotland too can be proud of what they achieved. They are the only team to have beaten three full-members in the history of the tournament, but could not finish off the job. Their performance further emphasises the fact that the gap between the associates and the full-members is indeed reducing. Teams like Netherlands or Scotland beating the Test sides can no longer be considered “upsets” or “punching above their weight.” 

They’ve earned the right to be not put in that category.

Coming back to de Leede, cricket was always in his blood. His father Tim was no stranger to putting on a show. He most famously did so against India in the 2003 World Cup, where his four wickets included that of Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid.

Going into this match against Scotland, de Leede’s ODI numbers were quite ordinary. He had a strike-rate of 66.57, averaged 23.77 and had managed just two fifties from his 28 innings. With the ball too, he had just 19 scalps at 37.78. But he was too good a player to be kept quiet and he showed the world of his talent with both bat and ball in a span of a few hours.

“We had a look at the targets, where we wanted to be at the halfway point. Maxy (Max O’Dowd, 20) and Vikram (Vikramjit Singh, 40) set the platform for the rest of us to finish it. The rate was 10 to 11 runs per over, so we had to go to the T20 mode, try as many runs as we could and see where it would take us. It's amazing, I can't describe the feeling, it's going to be one big party,” the all-rounder said after their win against Scotland in Bulawayo.

De Leede’s overall T20 numbers too are not particularly great though, but like his old man, he is no stranger to performing in big tournaments. In the T20 World Cup Qualifier in 2022, de Leede once again came to the party, smashing 170 runs at 56.66 (SR 126.68) and bowled exceedingly well with his fast bowling, picking up nine wickets at an average of nine (Econ 5.40).

He did not let his performance dip event at the main event. He may not have lived up to the expectations with the bat, but chipped in with wickets in almost all the matches, finishing with 13 wickets at 13 as the Dutch went on to script history with wins over Zimbabwe and South Africa.

Make no mistake, de Leede is not your average medium pacer getting through his overs at 120-125 kmph. He is someone who can bowl consistently beat the batters for pace and hurry the batters more often than not bowling at 140 kmph

De Leede continues to grow as an all-rounder under the watchful eyes of former Netherlands head coach Ryan Campbell at Durham. He has started off well, picking up someone of the caliber of Jonny Bairstow for his first County scalp.

In his short stint there he has made quite the impact, picking up nine wickets at 29.66 and slammed 176 at 88, which includes two fifties in three matches so far. While plenty of players including Paul van Meekeren, Fred Klaassen, and Brandon Glover, among other players, could not be available for the Dutch due to their County commitments, they certainly breathed a sigh of relief given that de Leede qualified as a local for Durham and could be available for his national side.

At 23, de Leede is not just the future of Netherlands, but a superstar in the making as far as world cricket is concerned. And that’s how he became the Clutchest of clutch players in Netherlands. 

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