Cricket: Netherlands eye history with New Zealand tour
The Netherlands men’s cricket team has embarked on a historic tour to New Zealand consisting of a one-off T20 International (20-overs a side) and three One-Day Internationals (50-overs a side) starting on March 25.
That the Netherlands, ranked 14th currently, are being hosted by the No. 1 ranked ODI side in the world, is perhaps akin to the Dutch hosting New Zealand in football.
When the Netherlands last visited ‘down under’ eight years ago with an aim of qualifying for the 2015 ODI World Cup, they came away with a significant blow to their cricket.
Not only did they fail to qualify, but they also lost their ODI status and close to one-third of their funding from the International Cricket Council, the world governing body of cricket.
After three years of hard toil in the World Cricket League Championship, where they won 10 matches out of 14, the Netherlands won the silverware but the incentives were far more rewarding: ODI status reinstated, a funding boost and a place in the 13-team ODI-league, the World Cup Super League, starting 2020.
The Super League guarantees 24 ODIs against eight full members (countries with test status), with half fixtures at home and half away. Additionally, the teams finishing in the top 8 will qualify automatically for the 2023 ODI World Cup in India.
The remaining five will battle for two spots at the World Cup Qualifier for the 10-team showpiece event. The Dutch are currently at the bottom of the table having played seven fixtures with two wins, four losses and a washed-out game against South Africa.
The Netherlands opened their account in the league after they beat Ireland 2-1 in a closely fought series in Utrecht in June 2021. The tour to South Africa in December was abandoned shortly after the first ODI was rained off in the wake of the Omicron variant sweeping shut international borders.
Their next assignment saw them take on Afghanistan in Qatar in January where they were beaten comprehensively 0-3 owing to a lack of middle-order batting experience and stability.
The tour to New Zealand will be followed by the largest home summer the Netherlands will have witnessed in their cricketing history. The VRA ground in Amstelveen will host the West Indies for three ODIs starting May 31 followed by a visit by England two weeks later. Pakistan is also scheduled to visit at a later date.
Albeit in a different format, it will be the first time the Netherlands will play England after famously defeating them at the 2014 T20 World Cup having already done so at the 2009 T20 World Cup curtain raiser at Lord’s.
In a way, those wins should have paved the way for more fixtures against top-tier nations. However, the Netherlands have only played against full members at a World Cup, with bilateral series against them outside of it far and few between.
Before the Super League commenced, they had only played five bilateral ODIs against test-playing nations: two at home against Sri Lanka in 2006, a win over Bangladesh in Glasgow in 2010, a one-off fixture against South Africa in 2013 and a couple against Zimbabwe in 2019. They were whistle-stop tours at best so the Super League fixtures, hold special significance.
And so, we have another classic David vs Goliath sporting encounter upon us. Pieter Seelaar’s men will come up against a rampant New Zealand side who have a formidable home record in ODIs, winning four out of their last five series at home and having completed a whitewash in all the four series. As for T20Is, the World Cup finalists lost their last series in India but have won 10 out of the last 14 T20Is at home.
‘New Zealand represents a fantastic challenge for us as they have been one of the best white-ball teams in World Cricket over the past five years,’ head coach Ryan Campbell told KNCB’s website. ‘Again, we have taken the opportunity to take some of our best young talents away with us, and bringing back Vikramjit Singh is really exciting.’
New Zealand, however, are set to be without their regular captain Kane Williamson and several other first-choice players after head coach Gary Stead confirmed that IPL-bound players will skip the upcoming series. Ross Taylor, a veteran of 233 ODIs, will retire from international cricket at the conclusion of the series.
The Netherlands, on the other hand, will be without the services of Roelof van der Merwe, Shane Snater and Colin Ackermann owing to county cricket commitments in England. The squad will be boosted by the return of openers Max O’Dowd and Stephen Myburgh as well as Wellington-based all-rounder Logan van Beek and Otago-based spin-bowling all-rounder Michael Rippon, who is also eligible to play for New Zealand.
‘Along with our youngsters, it is great to welcome back senior players Stephan Myburgh, Max O’Dowd and Logan van Beek who will add experience to this squad.
‘The inclusion of Michael Rippon is really exciting for us and it’s something that we have been working on for some time. He will add another dimension to our team and add more experience to this young group. I’m really looking forward to him bowling in tandem with our young spinners,’ Campbell said.
VOC’s O’Dowd, who was born in Auckland but holds a Dutch passport, has been the side’s leading run-scorer in ODIs and T20Is since 2019 and has experience playing for Auckland and Otago’s A-side as well as club cricket in New Zealand.
He will be expected to bring in valuable local intelligence about the conditions, alongside van Beek and Rippon, in addition to playing three warm-up games against an NZ XI at McLean Park in Napier.
There isn’t much history to fall back on between the two sides. While New Zealand were the first ever ODI opponents for the Dutch, back in the Wills Cup in Baroda, it remains the only 50-over clash between them. Captain Seelaar and Myburgh are the only two squad members currently from the solitary T20I clash at the T20 World Cup in Dhaka in 2014. Netherlands lost both the games.
The squad has a mix of youth and experience as Campbell eyes a white-ball reset with an aim to develop players for the future generation, after the side’s shockingly winless T20 World Cup campaign in October.
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