What would your answer be to the question, which batsman has the highest average in One-Day International cricket for a minimum of 1000 runs? The obvious responses would include Virat Kohli, Babar Azam, some might say MS Dhoni while a few old-timers would go for Michael Bevan. Right? Nope!
The answer to the above question is Netherlands batsman Ryan ten Doeschate, who averages 67 in 33 ODIs in which he has scored 1541 runs!
It is a record that he characteristically plays down and while the sample size in terms of matches played might be small as compared to other batsmen on the list, the fact remains that ten Doeschate has established himself as one of the finest if not the finest cricketers ever produced by an Associate nation.
But saying ten Doeschate has scored runs only against weaker nations would be a gross insult to his talent. From being discovered by Essex in 2003 when he was playing for Western Province, in South Africa, to captaining Essex to the County title in 2017 and 2019, ten Doeschate has proven to be a match-winner in more ways than one.
One glance at ten Doeschate’s career shows how big an asset he has been for any side he has played for. He has scored nine half-centuries and five hundreds in just 33 ODI innings while on the T20I stage he has played 22 matches where he has scored 533 runs at 44.41. He has also picked up 55 and 13 wickets respectively in his ODI and T20I career. His first-class numbers are equally impressive. He has played 188 FC games scoring 10,766 runs at 45.61 which includes 49 half-centuries and 29 centuries. He has also returned 212 wickets at 33.92 with best bowling figures of 6/20.
Born in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, on this day in 1980, ten Doeschate had harboured hopes of playing cricket for Western Province. His Dutch lineage though helped him play for the Netherlands and qualify under the EU law to play county cricket. His aggressive style of batting backed up by effective medium-pace bowling made him an instant hit on the English County circuit.
On the international scene, ten Doeschate made his debut for the Netherlands in 2006, the very game in which Sri Lanka broke the then world record for the highest total in ODIs amassing 443/9. While his debut wasn’t as auspicious, ten Doeschate started piling runs in whatever opportunities he got.
When he was not playing international cricket for the Netherlands, he was scoring runs for Essex. But what really turned the tide in ten Doeschate’s favour was the rise in the popularity of T20 leagues. His busy style of batting and the ability to strike it big when needed in the death overs, coupled with his tight bowling made him an instant hit with T20 franchises. He earned lucrative contracts in Australia, England, India, Bangladesh and New Zealand and became one of the most followed cricketers from an Associate nation.
While Ten Doeschate has played key roles in almost all of Netherland’s victories, the finest and probably the most important one was when Holland beat England in the opening game of the T20 World Cup in 2009 in a heart-stopping affair. To date that remains one of the biggest upsets on the global stage and it was fitting that ten Doeschate was out in the middle when Holland completed the chase.
He scored his maiden ODI century against Bermuda in February 2007 but undoubtedly his best effort was during the 2011 World Cup when he scored two tons in the competition, against England and Ireland. It was during these years that Netherlands was at the top of the Associate rankings. It came as no surprise when ten Doeschate was named ICC Associate and Affiliate Player of Year thrice in four years between 2008 and 2011.
However, ten Doeschate’s appearances for the Netherlands were sporadic after 2011, the last time he played an ODI for them. He did come back in 2017 and was instrumental in helping them qualify for the 2020 T20 World Cup in Australia.
While he had played T20 cricket for Tasmania, in Australia, Canterbury in New Zealand and Essex in England, his biggest break came when he was picked up by Kolkata Knight Riders for $150,000 during the 2011 IPL auctions. He was the first Associate player to win an IPL contract.
With just four foreign players allowed in the side, ten Doeschate was not always the first-choice pick for KKR but he put in important performances whenever required. In 29 matches for KKR, the Dutch national scored 326 runs at an average of 23.29 and a strike-rate of 138.7. He was with the Kolkata-based franchise for four years, between 2011 and 2015 and was an important member of the side both times when KKR won the IPL, in 2012 and 2014.
Ten Doeschate has plied his trade in almost all T20 leagues around the world. The biggest achievement of his career though still remains leading Essex to the County Championship. He was appointed captain of Essex in the County Championship in 2016 and in his first year he led the side back into Division One of the Championship. The best was yet to come as in the very next season, with ten Doeschate at the helm, Essex won their first Championship in 25 years. They failed to defend their title in 2018 but won it again in 2019 and this time it was coupled with winning the T20 Blast as well.
Having reached 40, ten Doeschate is in the final stages of his career. He has handed over the reins at Essex to Tom Westley but remains committed to the club as ever. For Netherlands, while chances are less but if the T20 World Cup does take place this year, ten Doeschate might want to produce a few more knocks and help the Associate side create a few more upsets.