After winning the Qualifiers in 2018, Netherlands have been drawn alongside Ireland, Namibia and Sri Lanka in the group stages of the T20 World Cup 2021. They will have an uphill task to make it out of the group, but by no means are they pushovers. That’s what they will look to prove when they take the field on Monday (October 18) against Ireland in Abu Dhabi.
These are truly great times for Dutch cricket, who will not just play the T20 World Cup but are also in the middle of the ODI Super League – a place they have deservedly taken – after winning the World Cricket League. They have already started the Super League with a 2-1 series win over Ireland and will take on South Africa and England in the upcoming months.
“This is such an important time for Dutch cricket. We have worked so hard and we owe it to every Dutch player of the past who got us to this point. Winning the World Cricket League (WCL) was going to give us an opportunity to go on the world stage consistently in the Super League and we needed to do it really well. We feel we have the responsibility to push the game forward as we saw in the three-match Super League series against Ireland. It was the first time ever that cricket was shown live in the Netherlands.” head coach Ryan Campbell told Cricket.com on ‘Know Your Associates.’
“Every sportsman I believe started because they saw it on TV or they saw something that grabbed their attention. The Dutch kids don’t see that – they watch football or hockey. We are making the very most of what we’ve done and this the credit to the wonderful team I have. They have driven cricket forward in the Netherlands.
“Hopefully, if we can do well, stay in the Super League and also have good performance at the World Cup, we can then get the next generation of youngsters coming through the system and the supply lines will be there and the talented youngsters will play at the international level and they can have a career at international cricket by being a full-time Dutch cricketer. That to me is the end result.”
Playing against some of the bigger teams is what many associate nations crave for and that’s what Netherlands have achieved as they enter a busy period of cricket.
’Ten Doeschate is the greatest associate cricketer’
When Campbell took over the reins at the Netherlands in 2017, one of his first priorities was to get the veteran all-rounder Ryan ten Doeschate back into the fold. Not only did he achieve that, but Campbell feels he is going to be a force to reckon with in the upcoming T20 World Cup.
“When I took over the No. 1 priority for me was to get the talent depth a lot more. There were eight or nine players who would continuously get selected. For me that was just wasn’t get enough. I went about trying to introduce new players and also give the youngsters an opportunity,” Campbell said
“For youngsters to develop they need great leaders, they need experienced personnel around them. Part of that was to bring Ryan ten Doeschate back. I know he left Dutch cricket in 2011 after the World Cup. He wasn’t happy with the professionalism of the game in the Netherlands and how the national team went about their work in big tournaments. I had to show him I was here to change the whole way we were going to go about it. We proved that over and over again.”
"The word great in sport gets thrown around way too easily but Ryan ten Doeschate will go down as the greatest associate cricketer that's ever played international cricket". His number stack up against everyone and he has been phenomenal for us. What he represents to us is hope and he also represents a guy that makes everyone better, just by his presence.
“We’ll miss him when the time is up but what we’re going to do is enjoy these last few weeks or months with him and I have no doubt he will come with his game face won and he’ll work hard in the lead-up. I have no doubt that Ten Doecshate will be a force to reckon with in this World Cup,” Campbell added.
Since returning to the fold ten Doeschate has played 13 T20Is against Ireland and has slammed 319 runs at 45.57 to go with a strike-rate of 136.32. In his last tournament in the Orange shirt, the Netherlands will hope that the veteran plays a pivotal role in extending his team’s stay in the mega event.
‘Don’t know my XI for the T20 World Cup opener’
Sticking with the T20 World Cup, the preparation for the Netherlands has not been an ideal one. They have not played a T20I since April when they played in Nepal but did manage to get in three ODIs against Ireland recently.
“The facts are that the Dutch have not played a T20I since April this year against Nepal and that wasn’t our full-strength team. The last time a full-strength Dutch team were together was back when we won the Qualifiers back in 2019. We’ve got lots to iron out. Not to put a lot of pressure on ourselves, but we are behind the eight-ball in terms of preparations due to our lack of playing.
“I look at all our opponents and they’ve been playing a lot of cricket. Unfortunately, through Covid and other reasons, it hasn’t fallen our way. So, we really need to work things out. I don’t know my final XI for that first game against Ireland. I’ve got a lot of fast bowlers here, but where do they fit in? Can I squeeze my young leg-spinner in, like Philippe Boissevain.”
“We got Pieter Seelaar and Roelof (Van der Merwe) who are going to bowl spin, we got some good batters. We talk about Steph (Stephan Myburgh) and Max (O’Dowd), there’s no guarantee that they are going to be the opening combination because I have a few other opportunities for other people who could slot in there as well. We are going to spend the rest of our time fine-tuning and tweaking and making sure we have the right combination.
“Like I tell my players all the time, we don’t have the perfect XI. What we have are the 11 players we think are the best suited for that particular fixture and that’s what going to do.
“That’s the strength of Dutch Cricket – it’s a very adaptable team from someone like a Ben Cooper, who could play at three, who could open. Bass de Leede could bat in the middle, he could open the batting and could open the bowling, we just don’t know yet. Because of our depth now, it’s exciting and makes my job even harder.
“Even without selection of our 15-man squad, Shane Snater and Tobias Visee are so unlucky to miss out. Then you’ve got players back home like Vivian Kingma and Saqib Zulfiqar have also missed out. It’s a tough one. “
One eye on the IPL?
The Netherlands are going to play two of their three games in the group stages in Abu Dhabi. Given that the Indian Premier League (IPL) is currently going on in the UAE, Campbell is keeping a close eye to get an idea of how the pitches behave.
“I am just trying to get an idea of what the wickets are playing like and we have some guys involved in the IPL who are my mates – Trevor Penny – is a former assistant coach of mine. He has been giving me plenty of words about the pitches. We’ll have a fairly good idea of how Abu Dhabi plays,” Campbell said.
“We didn’t play in the Qualifiers, we were in the Dubai group. Looks like the wickets are a bit slow and they are going to turn a little bit. So, that’s exciting that we have the coverage with our spin bowling department. Out batters have to bat well, but I love my fast bowlers, I love my group. They are very adaptable and I’m sure we’ll still use three, maybe four of them at times. But they’ll adapt to the pitches and will be really tough to face,” he further emphasised.
‘No bigger contributor to Dutch cricket than Peter Borren’
Campbell has always held that Dutch Cricket owes a lot to the past players and none more than former skipper Peter Borren, who still remains an integral part of the structure.
Borren, who won 21 out of the 37 T20Is in charge led the Netherlands in the 2014 and 2016 edition of the T20 World Cup, which saw his side go past England in Bangladesh.
“Pete was the captain when I took over and he has done a fantastic job for Dutch cricket. I’ve said earlier that we owe a lot to the players who came before and there’s no bigger contributor than Peter Borren. His work ethic and his way of putting himself on the line when the match was on the line was no doubt 100% all the time,” Campbell, who took charge of the Netherlands in April 2017, said.
“We always miss Pete but he is part of our structure now. We gave him a couple of years to get that segregation between him as a captain and now as a coach. He is heavily involved in our Under-19 program, our A program and our national squad trainings as well. Even though he is not on the park, he is a very much a part of us. He does a lot of fielding stuff with our guys and does a really good job.
“We don’t ever want to say goodbye to our past players. We want them to be involved in cricket somehow either administrators or coaches.”
'Watch out for O'Dowd and Ackermann'
Campbell, a former Australia and Hong Kong international further goes on to add that hard-hitting batsman Max O’Dowd and Colin Ackermann should be potential targets of many T20 franchises around the world and are also the ones to watch out from his side at the World Cup.
“One thing that really gets under my skin is watching all these franchise leagues around the world and the players they use are always the same. They don’t do their research. I’m telling you, there would be at least 10 from the associate world, who could do really well in these franchise competitions if given an opportunity. We’ve seen Tim David do it, we’ve seen it with Rashid Khan, and we’ve seen it with Sandeep Lamichhane. The Dutch have got a number of them,” Campbell points out.
"Max O’Dowd could play in franchise cricket, no doubt. He is an absolute gun. Hopefully, his performances at the World Cup open the eyes to the world of what he can do.
"The other one I can say is Colin Ackermann. Colin represents a really experienced professional who is still young. The guy captains Leicester, bats in the top-order and probably may open the bowling for us at times with his offspin and is also an absolute gun fielder.
“There’s two blokes I would say keep a close eye on in this competition. And for all you franchise owners out there, get your phones out, have a look and get a hold of these guys because I reckon you’re missing a trick by missing out on a number of associate players who are absolute guns,” Campbell, who represented Hong Kong in the T20 World Cup 2016," further added.