Pieter Seelaar: We have to fly the Associate flag high in ODI Super League

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25 Nov 2021 | 07:43 AM
authorPramod Ananth

Pieter Seelaar: We have to fly the Associate flag high in ODI Super League

Seelaar talks about his side's performance in T20 World Cup, his experience leading the side, thoughts on the cancellation of future ODI Super League and more

The Netherlands won the T20 World Cup Qualifiers in 2019 but put up a poor show in the main event in 2021, failing to win even a single game. They now need to turn their attention quickly towards the ODI Super League series against South Africa as the Dutch look to remain in good stead for qualification for the 2023 50-over World Cup.

In a chat with Cricket.com, Netherlands captain Pieter Seelaar talks about his side's performance in the recently-concluded T20 World Cup, the series against South Africa, his experience leading the side, thoughts on the cancellation of future ODI Super League and more.

How is the mood in the camp after a disappointing campaign in the T20 World Cup? What would you put down Netherlands' underwhelming performance in the tournament?

The mood is actually very good now. Obviously the team was very disappointed how we performed at the T20 World Cup. Luckily the series against South Africa is upon us already, so we didn’t have a lot of time to sulk over it and we are looking to redeem ourselves somewhat.

I’d put the disappointing performance down to two things. First of all we just didn’t put up the performances we expect from ourselves. We don’t shy away from that and have taken responsibility for. 

Secondly the lack of game time leading into the tournament. We had a great camp in Dubai leading into the tournament, but because of bubble issues we didn’t get to play many warm up games.

Max O'Dowd was perhaps one of the few positives to emerge out of the World Cup for Netherlands. How crucial is he at the top of the order for your side?

Most definitely. Max has develop into such a consistent performer in the last 5 years. He has been such a dominant force ever since he has been opening the batting. So obviously he is crucial to us scoring big totals, as any batsman is in the top order. Max is amongst the highest scoring batmen In world cricket and may it continue for a long time to come.

The Next World Cup isn't far away. Of course, Netherlands play in the Qualifiers first. A good chance to quickly turn things around perhaps?

A very good chance. Although we have some tough cricket to play in the Super League before that. Facing the likes of South Africa, Afghanistan and New Zealand is going to provide us with some very tough, but exciting challenges. And when our summer start the qualifiers will be the first big thing on the agenda. A very good chance indeed to turn things around and hopefully to qualify for another World Cup. That will be our main aim for 2022, but as I said, we have some good and tough cricket ahead of us first.

Your team had good outings in a couple of warm-up matches ahead of the series against South Africa. Are you confident of putting up a good show in the ODI series?

It was very nice to play those warm up games in the conditions over here. Obviously very different to the conditions we have in Europe and Dubai, where we have played our most recent cricket. I’m confident we can put up a good show over here in South Africa, as one bad tournament doesn’t make us a bad team!

We will be up against it, facing South Africa in their home conditions, but a challenge we relish and very much looking for.

Taking over from Peter Borren could not have been an easy task. How much have you enjoyed leading the side in the last 3 years or so?

No, it hasn’t. Peter has been such a big influence, not only for The Netherlands, but for the whole of Associate cricket. The captaincy is a role I have enjoyed very much. I’ve had the chance to really develop into the role and to get the team to play the way I’d like.

How has it been working with Ryan Campbell? As captain, what are the discussions you have with him and is he someone who is open to suggestions?

Cambo and I have a pretty good relationship. We have created an environment where players and staff can have a healthy discussion. Cambo is a coach you can always talk to, even though he can be tough on us. The topics of discussion vary so much so it is not easy to just nail it down to one. But tactically we try and stay ahead of the game a little bit, but we always do that with assistant coach James Hilditch as well. 

We try and plan accordingly for every opposition and make up our match before every game. And after that we have, as I said, good healthy discussions how we have played and in what way we can improve.  

Ryan ten Doeschate may have retired, but is the mentor for the South Africa tour. How has it been having him around in a different role?

Tendo is just a good bloke to have around non stop. His knowledge on the game is spot on. He is a very open person to spar with about cricket, but also just on topics outside of cricket. As a person he is not different whether that is as player or support staff. He has been throwing a lot of balls, and fair to say we are well trained to face some beamers.

The ODI Super League gives you a chance to rub shoulders with some of the top teams on a consistent basis. Are you disappointed that it will be scrapped after the 2023 World Cup?

As it looks like it will be a ‘once in a lifetime opportunity’. A chance Associate cricketers have been crying out for, for a while and we must be very grateful to have this opportunity. A chance to test ourselves against the best in the world, but also to learn from. 

As where the occasional one off game against Full Member have come along, we now have 24 opportunities to test ourselves.

Obviously I’m disappointed, as our aim was to stay in this league at the end of it. Now we don’t know what the future holds, but to stay in the present we now have to fly the Associate flag high, and hopefully get to show the world what this Netherlands team is capable of.

South Africa will be without some top players like Quinton de Kock, Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje to name a few. A great opportunity for the Dutch to perhaps add to their points tally in the Super League?

The scorecard still says South Africa v Netherlands, regardless of who plays. Every game you play in this tournament is a game to add points to the tally. So for us it doesn’t matter who we are facing, we still have to beat them. This South African team is still very strong, with a couple of players probably to stake a claim for further honors for South Africa.

You've played for the Netherlands right from the U-15 level. How would you sum up your journey from that stage to now leading your side at the highest level?

That seems like a lifetime ago! To be honest, when I first started playing I had no idea about how big cricket was in the world, or had any aspiration to play at the highest stage, as I didn’t know it existed really. In my teenage years I always wanted to be a professional football player. But actually since I made my debut back in 2005, the cricket bug actually got to me. When I started playing cricket was very much amateur, especially compared to how the game is approached now. I basically rocked up with a pair of spikes and that’s it!

But is has been a journey I have enjoyed to the fullest. Not only the playing side, but also the life lessons you learn and the great people you meet along the way. It has been a ride with many ups and downs, but a ride I’m very happy not to have missed.

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Netherlands tour of South Africa, 2021NetherlandsPieter Seelaar

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