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Max O'Dowd: Netherlands getting pushed further down after Super League scrap

Last updated on 18 Jun 2023 | 11:55 AM
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Max O'Dowd: Netherlands getting pushed further down after Super League scrap

In a chat with, the Netherlands batter spoke about his side's successful T20 World Cup last year, losing players to County commitments and more

The Netherlands have grown leaps and bounds over the last two-three years and now embark on a chance to make it to yet another World Cup – this time a 50-over event – in India. Having won the World Cricket League (WCL) in 2019, they were part of the first-ever 13-team ODI Super League – one of the pathways for direct qualification to the mega event. As it turns out, it’s also going to be their last, given that it was scrapped recently.

The Super League ensured that the Dutch faced quality opponents like Pakistan, South Africa, West Indies and England, home and away. That not just helped them improve their quality of cricket but also gave them an opportunity to dig deep into their resources and discover new players, who could now potentially go on to serve Dutch cricket for a decade or so.

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The Super League has helped the Dutch bridge the quality of cricket between them and the full members. Netherlands batter Max O’Dowd believes that with the Super League no longer set to be played, it further pushes the Netherlands down the pecking order.

“I'm not going to lie, it's a massive disappointment. It's such a good thing for us to have played in that league. We've played so much, and we've grown so much within a year-and-a-half of playing such high-level cricket,” O’Dowd said in a chat with

“When we first started, it was bit of a shock because it's a massive difference taking that step up into the next level. It's a big difference, but we started to find our feet towards the end of it. At the end of the day, most professional cricketers will tell you that if you believe in yourself, you've got confidence in your ability, that's 90% of the way there. 

“The other 10% will go with it. It's disappointing that we don't have that highest level of cricket anymore. I'm sure we'll have to go into the World Cricket League [CWC League 2] and play our fellow associates like Scotland, Nepal, UAE, which is still a great standard. 

“But it's not the same playing the biggest countries in the world, playing in front of big crowds, big pressures, big expectations and so on, which we'll sorely miss. The ICC can find another way to get us involved because at the moment it feels like we're getting pushed further down the pecking order.”

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For Netherlands, they have at times had to do it without some of the star players, who have signed a County deal. Even in the Qualifiers, they go into the tournament without Fred Klaassen, Colin Ackermann, Brandon Glover, Roelof Van der Merwe and others. 

O’Dowd, though, sees some positives from this.

“Yeah, it's a loss. Having all those experienced guys - Freddie, Colin, Brandon - and all those guys who are playing County cricket and not available here hurts but then again we hear it all the time and read it all the time about how bad it is for us and how upsetting it must be,” the opening batter said.

“Then again, it's also quite exciting because there's a lot of talent. The guys who have come in for those boys are going to have an opportunity to showcase that talent on such a big stage. 

“That's the way I prefer to look at it - in a positive light - instead of looking at it negatively because I feel that impacts everything we do - our preparation, the way we think, the way we want to go into these fixtures. 

“For us, our line of dialogue is about how exciting it is and how ready we are to take this opportunity head-on. I'm excited to see guys who haven't had the opportunity to go out there and express themselves.”

The Dutch went into the 2021 T20 World Cup without much preparation, partly due to the COVID restrictions. They had played just three official T20Is and a couple of warm-ups ahead of the tournament. Their rustiness clearly showed as they lost all three matches in the first round of the tournament – two of them in embarrassing fashion.

With plenty of cricket – ODI and T20I – behind them, they went into the following edition in Australia well-prepared. There was a change in leadership as well, with Scott Edwards replacing the retired Pieter Seelaar as captain, while Ryan Cook took over as head coach, replacing Ryan Campbell.

Their quality of cricket improved as they not just made it to the Super 12s but also beat a couple of fill-member countries, including South Africa. That result really blew the tournament wide open. It gave Pakistan a chance to make the semis and potentially go on to win the tournament from an improbable position. 

O’Dowd, who gained about 10,000 followers on Twitter (mostly from Pakistan), rues that his side fell just short against Bangladesh, which could have potentially seen them make the semis themselves. He reveals that that was Netherlands’ aim going into the competition.

“It's funny you say that. Ryan Cook, and the staff and everyone else, our aim was actually to make it to those semis. Bangladesh was a game that we felt we should have won. We lost four wickets in the powerplay and that's never going to put you in a good spot,” O’Dowd who scored 242 runs in the tournament – second to Virat Kohli’s 296, said.

“But who knows? We could have beaten Bangladesh and then lost to South Africa. For the way we played that tournament that was probably our best result. I don't think we played our best brand of cricket. The game against South Africa was a culmination of everything we worked towards and it showcased Dutch cricket at its best. 

“You're not going to play the perfect game every time we play but I feel we were quite far from that game against South Africa on other occasions. Hopefully, we'd been able to replicate that performance more often than not, I think we could be looking at a semi-final spot. People will probably laugh but you've got to have that belief. We're grateful to be there, but we want to try and win, do the best we can.”

The win over the Proteas in last year’s T20 World Cup was not just a massive scalp for the Netherlands, but it also ensured that they booked their place in next year’s mega event in the West Indies and USA. 

“It was a massive win for us. I thought it was an interesting one. Going into the the past maybe the wins that the Netherlands have had at World Cups, I won't say flukes, but the opposition would have had to do something quite bare in order for us to win,” the Auckland-born batter said.

“It might sound a bit harsh and I'm sure the past players will disagree. When we played that game, it just felt like we did well what we did well. It's not as if South Africa had a terrible game, we just played better. That showcases that the gap is getting smaller between those nations.”

With the Dutch having already qualified for the T20 World Cup next year and no Super League to play in the next cycle, one does not know that their next fixture will be after the ongoing Qualifiers. The World Cup in India in October, perhaps? 

O’Dowd had injured his finger in South Africa, where they played a couple of games against Scotland and Nepal. He, however, did not bat as a precaution. However, he did bat in the official warm-up games in Bulawayo against Ireland and Sri Lanka. By the looks of it, he will be fit for the first game in the Qualifiers against Zimbabwe on Tuesday (June 20). Moreover, they do have a bit of an edge, given that they played an ODI series against Zimbabwe earlier this year, to go with the T20 World Cup Qualifiers they played in 2022. 

When O’Dowd and his teammates take the field, they will no longer walk into it as the underdogs. While the competition is tough, a World Cup spot could vindicate Netherlands’ process and the work they have put in to reach here over the years. 

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