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Scott Edwards and Netherlands finally have their day under the sun in India

Last updated on 17 Oct 2023 | 09:00 PM
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Scott Edwards and Netherlands finally have their day under the sun in India

The Dutch have completed a double of sorts against South Africa as they look to tick many more teams off their bucket list

The Netherlands’ fairytale continues. Their World Cup dream continues. The Men in Orange have given this World Cup a new lease of life…and again, they have made an example out of South Africa.

Not too long ago, far away in Adelaide, the Netherlands had their moment when they stunned the Proteas to effectively knock them out of contention for a place in the semifinal of the 2022 T20 World Cup. 

The Dutch are the only associate nation to make the World Cup. The idea of this being just a 10-team event has not gone down well with many, but many teams from the associate world look at the Netherlands as a ray of hope. A win for the Netherlands is a win for Scotland, UAE, Namibia, and so many others who could not make it to this level. 

Leading from the front, as he has on plenty of occasions, was skipper Scott Edwards. When he came in to bat in the 21st over against the Proteas, Netherlands were 82 for 5 in the 43-over game, and reaching anywhere close to 200 would have felt like a job well done. The good news for the Netherlands was that they had a deep batting line-up – potentially someone until No. 11 who could whack a few. The likes of Roelof van der Merwe (29 off 19) and Aryan Dutt (23 off 9) also showed their class with the bat. 

Edwards' special quality is his never-stop-grinding attitude. He is someone who commands respect from those in the dressing room, among his teammates and the coaching staff, something which head coach Ryan Cook acknowledges.

“Scott has got his own unique style. One of the things that I love about him and things that he has done really well is to stay completely authentic to who he was despite the title. That was a really amazing thing to see,” head coach Ryan Cook said in a chat with ahead of the World Cup

“Everybody's commented in the dressing room and outside saying that this guy is so humble and level-headed and really just helps the guys wherever he can. He is extremely authentic, very believable as a leader, which I think you definitely need to have. He has a huge amount of credibility because he walks the talk.

“He sets the example for the players of the style of cricket everyone are playing and he really backs it up with his actions day in and day out. I'm not talking about the running between the wickets or the tactical decisions that he makes, but the small decisions he is making day-to-day just in his body, recovery and all those things are inspirational to watch for a lot of the players and certainly for me as a coach as well. It has been fantastic to work with him. On top of that, he is tactically astute and really wants to get every inch out of it; it makes for a very pleasurable relationship.”

Edwards’ rise in Netherlands cricket has been an interesting one. He gave up his electrical apprenticeship after he received a surprise call-up to the Dutch side at the end of 2017. He had formed a good relationship with Ryan Campbell, the Netherlands’ former head coach, during his stint with the Dutch club Excelsior '20. 

With one of their wicketkeepers down, Campbell immediately rang up Edwards, who qualified to play for the Netherlands through his grandmother. He made his debut for them in 2017 and, from there on, has been one of the driving forces behind the Netherlands’ rise. 

One aspect he has worked incredibly hard on is his sweeps. He hit 68, 86, and 54 in the three-match ODI series against Afghanistan in Doha in January last year and played out Rashid Khan better than most have. The secret to that was the time he spent with Alex Ross, who had an appetite to play sweeps, and plenty of them earned him the name “sweepologist” from the commentators during the Big Bash League (BBL). Ross, a cricketer from South Australia, lived with Edwards when he spent a summer playing club cricket in Rotterdam.

That is when Edwards picked his brains and built his game around being a good player of spin and the sweep shot is key to doing that.

Edwards has a strike rate of almost 101 and averages 66.45 against spinners since 2021 – which is among some of the top players in the world. To put things into perspective, only eight other batters have averaged better and struck at a better pace than Edwards in this period. It is truly astonishing and a testament to how the Dutch cricketer has achieved what he set out to do right from the outset of building his game around the ability to play spin well.

Even on Tuesday (October 17), Edwards and the Netherlands’ back was against the wall. It was a situation where not many would have been surprised to see the Dutch crumble and get bowled out for a below-par total. In a way, there was nothing to lose. When one has nothing to lose, it is when you are at your absolute best. 

Van der Merwe swung his bat around, and so did Dutt. Trying to match them shot for shot, Edwards could have been dismissed. Instead, he held one end up, ran the ones and twos and when the opportunity arose, he whacked them to the fence. He batted with patience, ran with desperation and, at the same time, did not let his intensity or focus drop.

Many a time, teams like the Netherlands have been looked down upon, especially in the 50-over format, where you have to be in the game for longer periods. They found that out against Pakistan, where reducing them to 38 for 3 in the first powerplay was just a mere battle won. While the war was up for grabs, the Dutch failed to win it. 

Edwards and Co had the momentum against South Africa after putting up over 100 in the last nine overs. But that may have proved to be of no use had they not bowled as well as they did. They could have still lost the game had David Miller gone on to make the most of the dropped catch. 

For once, the Netherlands won both the battle and the war.

A couple of days ago, Afghanistan shocked England with a convincing win, and now the Dutch have shown that they are here not just to make up the numbers but to achieve their goal of making the semis. A victory coming against a South African side, title-contenders, who scored a record 428 against Sri Lanka and 311 against Australia, is nothing short of a statement. 

Not many thought that the Netherlands could better the heist they pulled off at the Qualifiers against the West Indies earlier this year, but this win, without a doubt, will go down as perhaps their finest moment in ODI cricket. With a minimum of six more matches to go, they may not be done just yet.

This win will resonate louder for players like Paul van Meekeren, who delivered food during the tough Covid months when cricket came to a standstill; for players like Teja Nidamanuru and Sybrand Engelbrecht, who had to take days off from their full-time jobs to have a crack at playing at the biggest stages. And also for the likes of Fred Klaassen, Brandon Glover, Timm van der Gugten and others who may be missing from the 15-member World Cup squad but have played their parts in the Netherlands’ rise.

It is once again on them and others to make the most of this and keep the N̶e̶t̶h̶e̶r̶l̶a̶n̶d̶s associate flag flying high.

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