The Netherlands cricket team are still hoping to snatch a place in the semi-finals of the ICC World Cup as they square up against the tournament’s other giant-killers, Afghanistan, on Friday.
All-rounder Logan van Beek told Dutch News that the 87-run defeat of Bangladesh earlier this week had proved that their defeat of South Africa was no fluke and they were on the way to shedding their underdog tag.
South Africa’s crushing 190-run win over New Zealand on Tuesday keeps the fourth qualifying spot within reach, but the Dutch will need to win their remaining matches against Afghanistan, beleaguered world champions England and title favourites India while hoping other results go their way.
“Our goal is to win four from eight going into the last game,” Van Beek said in an interview for the Dutch News podcast.
“We’ve said it from the start, and I’m a believer that if we didn’t even put that out there we wouldn’t be in the position we’re in now. It would be the same old story of ‘if only we can just surprise someone once’.
“I feel like we’re getting to the stage now where we’re actually a good cricket side. One game was satisfactory, two games was good, three games very good, and I think four games, and possibly five would be remarkable.”
Van Beek, 33, said the win against Bangladesh had lifted the team after their record 309-run defeat by Australia and a narrow loss to Sri Lanka, the other team that came through the summer qualifying tournament in Zimbabwe.
“We had the high of beating South Africa and we thought: is that the spark that’s going to get us going? The Sri Lanka loss took the wind out of our sails a little bit. And then obviously the Australian massacre happened.
“In a funny way it was actually a good thing, because it gave us a wake-up call that if you’re not at the top of your game and you go up against the top people in the game, you’re going to get find out.
“And then to go to Kolkata and put on a performance like that [against Bangladesh] – although it was a bit of a shaky start, which seems to be a bit of a theme at the moment.
“But now we’re sitting here looking forward to the next game against Afghanistan which is going to be a massive game in the context of the rest of the World Cup.”
South Africa win
The win against South Africa confirmed the progress of a team that had seen opportunities slip away in the first two matches against Pakistan and New Zealand, both of which ended in heavy defeats.
“Our plans that we had for that game were a lot clearer and more specific in terms of bowling spin up front,” Van Beek said. “As fast bowlers we knew we were going to bowl more in the middle, and then with the bat it was just a matter of getting the score.
“It was such a great feeling throughout the back half of that match, the way Paulie [Paul van Meekeren] came in and bowled, and we just got timely wickets throughout.
“I felt like we were a little bit short against Pakistan and New Zealand. We didn’t really get ourselves fully in the game. We were getting there but we couldn’t just do it for longer. Whereas the South African game was like: right guys, we can do this, let’s trust our skills and let’s go for it.”
Springboard for development
He added: “Even in the Australian game, we had a run-out opportunity and a missed catch and the game could have been completely different.
“We had them at 290 for 6 when Glenn Maxwell came in to bat and that was a crucial stage in hindsight. That was a tough one, but at this level you’ve got to take those half-chances.”
Having bagged two wins already, the Dutch will look back on this tournament as a breakthrough, but Van Beek stressed the importance of using it as a springboard to develop the sport in the Netherlands.
“We’ve shown as a team that we’re able to do special things,” he said. “Now we’ve got to use this leverage, use this funding, to create a sustainable future. We don’t want this to be an 18-month period of great cricket and then everyone goes their separate ways.
“We’re going to move up the ranks, we’re going to get more players involved. We’ve got a good thing going.
“It would be very sad if we’re talking in a year’s time or a year and a half and things have hit the fan. It’s all our responsibility – players, coaches, KNCB, sponsors – to move forward together.”
For now, though, the focus is on the next three games and keeping the dream of qualifying for the next stage alive as long as possible, Van Beek said.
“Going into these next three matches, Afghanistan are on a good run. I feel like the match against them is going to be very much about which team is most disciplined, who can put the partnerships together and who’s going to crack first.
“England have probably been in the media the most out of all the teams, so can we catch them while they’re down? Who knows.
“And then the India game at the end: if we go into that game with a chance to make the semi-final by beating India, that would be right up there with the greatest cricketing feats we’ve ever achieved. Get Netflix or someone to make a documentary, because that would be huge.”
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