back icon


Now an MBA, Sybrand Engelbrecht rediscovers love for cricket

Last updated on 27 Sep 2023 | 02:07 PM
Google News IconFollow Us
Now an MBA, Sybrand Engelbrecht rediscovers love for cricket

Picked in the Netherlands squad after qualifying to play for them earlier this year, the Johannesburg-born all-rounder hopes to make an instant impact at the World Cup

There are high chances that you may not have heard of Sybrand Engelbrecht

After all, he last played a competitive cricket game back in 2016, which came for Western Province in the three-day cup. Since then, he has put his MBA in project management to good effect, moved to the Netherlands and is now working full-time as an investment specialist. 

But then something strange happened: he moved back to cricket and qualified to represent the Netherlands after completing his three-year residency as per ICC’s requirement. 

However, he is best known for taking one of the best catches of all time in the ICC 2008 Under-19 World Cup for South Africa, when he took a stunner against Papua New Guinea. In fact, he leapt up in the air to take an excellent catch of Virat Kohli in the final, but his side finished second best that day.

Almost close to 15 years after that game, he is part of the Netherlands at the World Cup. He is expected to play a key role as the Dutch look to make an impact after dramatically making it through at the World Cup Qualifiers.

“I got back from the Under-19 World Cup and was contracted at Cape Town; I was with Cape Cobras for nearly 8-9 odd years. I did my degree in finance, post-grad degree in project management, so I decided to call it a day on my cricketing career in 2016 and I started working in January 2017,” Engelbrecht said in an exclusive chat with

“I worked as an investment specialist and moved across into a global investment specialist role. Nearly three years ago the organisation started expanding, so we've got a large business in the UK.

“I came to establish and build the business that is now in the Netherlands. Throughout that, I did my MBA from the Stellenbosch Business School. When we moved to the Netherlands…I've got a wife and a three-year-old son. We thought the easiest way to integrate into the community is to play some sport again. 

“Picked up the bat and fell in love with it all over again. Played for Voorburg Cricket Club. Did well in 2021. In 2022 I had a shoulder operation, so I hadn't played much. This season...we had a really good season and I became eligible to play for the Dutch in June or July. Made my debut for the A side after I became eligible. Did well there and here we are.”

While playing cricket for the Netherlands, in a World Cup no less, was not part of his plan, the 35-year-old is now focused on putting in some good performances at the mega event.

“We moved across when I finished my [cricketing] career in 2016. I was thankful for an amazing opportunity to play.  but I really focussed on building my career [outside cricket] and worked really hard for the last 6-7 years,” Englebrecht, whose parents were Springbok gymnasts, said.

“But cricket is a passion for everybody. To be in a position to put my name in the hat was something that I jumped at. It's brilliant to have an organisation like Fairtree that I work for that are so accommodating and understanding. It's been brilliant. I carry the business' blessing, which allows me to come out here and have fun, which is brilliant. It's been quick, but it's fantastic to be back, playing where I can, guide where I can and hopefully score some runs as well.”

Engelbrecht is no stranger to playing in India. In fact, he was part of the Cape Cobras unit at the Champions League T20 2009 in India and then in 2014 as well. Notably, in 2014, his off-breaks fetched him figures of 3 for 20 against Hobart Hurricanes at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium, Hyderabad – the venue for the side’s first two games of the upcoming World Cup – against Pakistan (October 6) and New Zealand (October 9).

Unlike many teams, the Netherlands do not have any bilateral series lined up ahead of the marquee event. However, they are not the ones to cry over it. In fact, they are the first team to arrive in India, and they also had a spin camp earlier this month that included Engelbrecht, who came to Bangalore along with head coach Ryan Cook, skipper Scott Edwards and others. 

As far as preparations go, the Netherlands are leaving no stone unturned.

“I think it was fantastic just to gear up and increase volumes. For the lot of the guys, they have a little bit of specifics that they have worked on. I have a good idea of where and how I go about my game and how I intend to score runs,” Engelbrecht said of his experience in the camp.

It was just refining and getting more volume into my game. It was brilliant in that regard as we were just able to just hit so many balls and do a lot. Then there was a lot of attention to detail and a lot of focus, so we're ready for it,” he added.

In their first practice match against Karnataka at the Karnataka State Cricket Association (KSCA) Stadium, Alur, all seven of the Netherlands’ top seven were dismissed for a duck. In fact, they had lost eight wickets in the first 10 overs in pursuit of 266, but some late flourish from Paul van Meekeren, Ryan Klein, Aryan Dutt and Shariz Ahmed saw them get to 123. However, the Dutch went down by just a wicket in the second game after putting up a formidable 296.

Engelbrecht, who lasted just seven deliveries in the first game, is not reading too much into it and is, in fact, delighted that such an underwhelming performance came so early on their tour.

“We have looked after a lot of the detail. We have taken care of a lot of analysis we have done,” Engelbrecht said, speaking of areas the Dutch can improve.

“Two days ago, we sat down as a team. It was getting a little bit of the rust off from the game perspective, to trust our preparation and to believe in ourselves and we did have a little bit of fun as well. We have done the hard work, we are as well prepared as we could be.

“So, it's just a case of enjoying, having fun, trusting that we're good enough, believing that we can compete against anybody on our day. Nothing specific. Getting some of the cobwebs off, playing more and then the belief.”

Senior batter Colin Ackermann, too, was in awe of the skillset Engelbrecht brings to the side. Not only can Engelbrecht play a useful hand with the bat and chip in with the ball, but is also a back-up wicketkeeper.

“He is one of those guys who brings a lot of energy to the squad. His fielding is world-class, he can throw with both arms and is electric in the field. He brings a good all-round package in the field and obviously with bat in hand as well,” Ackermann said.

Poised to make his debut in Hyderabad, will Englebrecht be the wildcard that gets the Dutch to their goal of making the semis? They nearly achieved that in the T20 World Cup last year. 

While the format might be different this time around, the Dutch achieving their target by no stretch of the imagination can be classified as an “upset” given the work they have put in over the last couple of years.

Their moment to paint India ‘Oranje’ might be finally here!

Related Article