Rarely has a One-Day International series been completed after 16 months. The Netherlands, currently in South Africa for their final World Cup Super League fixtures, were last in the country in November 2021 for a historic three-match series. But after weather foiled the first ODI, Covid-19 forced the postponement of the series until now.
And both sides can vouch that a lot can change over 16 months.
Netherlands saw veterans Pieter Seelaar, who was captaining the side on the last tour, and batter Stephan Myburgh hang up their boots and welcomed back Tom Cooper and Wesley Barresi.
Back then, they were still fielding questions about their winless T20 World Cup campaign in the UAE but now land in the country having not only secured a seminal win over the hosts in the T20 World Cup in Adelaide last November but also having hosted the likes of England, Pakistan, West Indies and New Zealand.
The World Cup also marked a swansong end to Ryan Campbell’s five-year tenure as the side’s head coach.
South Africa, too, have undergone a raft of changes with the appointment of Temba Bavuma as their new white-ball captain and Rob Walter into his first month as the Proteas’ head coach.
Heading into the two-match series, the stakes couldn’t be higher for the South Africans, who are fielding a full-strength side. Should they win the series 2-0, they are likely to seal the final spot up for grabs in the Super League rankings and qualify automatically for the World Cup in India at the end of the year.
On the other hand, with only three wins from their 22 Super League fixtures, the Dutch are resigned to a wooden finish and a trip to Zimbabwe in June for the World Cup Qualifiers is inevitable. Scott Edwards, the Netherlands captain, will hope his side can crash the South African party once again with only pride to play for.
‘For us it’s about putting in good team performances as extra preparation for the Qualifiers,’ Edwards told a press conference. ‘We want to play as a group that we have got because we don’t know who is going to be available during the Qualifiers in June (due to its clash with the English domestic season).’
More than the results, Edwards’ main takeaway from the Super League is centred around the development of players coming through Topklaasse, the Dutch domestic tournament. Teja Nidamanuru, who notched up a century against Zimbabwe in a come-from-behind victory last week, and 19-year-old spinners Shariz Ahmad, who picked up his maiden five-wicket haul also last week, and Aryan Dutt are fine examples.
‘It (the Super League) has been massive for us as a group,’ he said.
‘If you look back on the squad before the Super League, it was a transition period with a few young players coming through. For those guys to be able to come in straight into the Super League and some of the performances they have put in, it has been massive for their growth and Dutch cricket.’
Netherlands, who warmed up with a three-wicket loss to a South African Invitational XI, will be without Bas de Leede, Brandon Glover, Colin Ackermann (released due to county commitments) and Roelof van der Merwe, who pulled out due to personal reasons.
The two ODIs will be played on March 31 in Benoni and April 2 in Johannesburg.
The Netherlands squad: Scott Edwards (captain and wicketkeeper), Musa Nadeem Ahmad, Shariz Ahmad, Wesley Barresi, Tom Cooper, Aryan Dutt, Vivian Kingma, Fred Klaassen, Ryan Klein, Paul van Meekeren, Teja Nidamanuru, Max O’Dowd and Vikram Singh.
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