Dutch batsman Michael Levitt set to turn heads at T20 World Cup

Micheal Levitt in action. Photo: KNCB/ Cricket Association of Nepal

A 20-year-old’s life is rarely slow moving as Dutch opener Michael Levitt prepares for his maiden T20 World Cup appearance in the US and Caribbean next month.

Despite having played just five T20Is, Levitt is now one of the first names on head coach Ryan Cook’s team sheet.

That is mainly down to his ability to stay strong and take on the bowlers as much as what he did in Nepal as a result of it. A record-breaking 62-ball 135, the highest score by a Dutchman in the format, followed a half-century on debut, eventually finishing as the player-of-the-series.

His strike-rate of 188 and an average a shade under 62 is a byproduct of having grown up on a diet of white-ball cricket. Indeed, Levitt was born only six days after the first-ever T20 game.

Adding to the national side’s strong link to South Africa, it hasn’t been long since Levitt first arrived in the country. A random WhatsApp message from Cook two summers ago inquiring about his Dutch passport, given his mother’s side of the family is from Harderwijk, sparked a career transformation.

“Straight after school, I worked as a gap PE teacher at a little private school in North London in Bushey while playing at Stanmore Cricket Club,” recalled Levitt speaking to Dutch News.

“I woke up to a text on my phone from Ryan Cook confirming if I had a Dutch passport and if I would be keen to play cricket in the Netherlands. I thought about it for a little bit, and contacted home. I went back to South Africa, met up with Cook for a coffee, he explained the process and what was coming in the next few years. And I said yes.”

Within 80 days of moving to the Netherlands in March last year, he was fast tracked into the national set-up as a travelling reserve for the World Cup Qualifier in Zimbabwe. Clearly, Cook had seen the signs of what was to come but an International debut had to wait until February this year in Nepal.

“I was naturally disappointed to miss out on the 50-over World Cup in India but I wanted my time to come when it was right and I wanted me to be ready. That little period, while the guys were at the World Cup, gave me some time to look at myself, fine tune skills and where I thought I needed to upgrade to be at that level,” he said.

“When the opportunity came, I didn’t want to put too much pressure on myself knowing that I had done the work to get myself in that position. I just wanted to try and take it with both hands.

“If I go back six months, I was probably a little bit arrogant and hot headed. And I think working with guys like Gary Kirsten, who helped us back in Cape Town working at his academy, Cook and our senior players, helps you mature. Once you hit that sense of maturity, you can kind of get through quite a lot compared to when I was a little bit younger and hot headed.”

The laissez-faire approach from the coaches and senior players, Scott Edwards and Max O’Dowd, has helped but his honest admission reflects a sense of self-awareness that underpins his confidence.


“Being around those guys is very helpful with them having gone through the same sort of emotions that I’m going through at the moment. Everyone’s sort of saying whatever you’ve been doing is what has got you here. It’s about staying clear and not over-complicating it. It’s been a massive help. I mean, it just calmed me down so much and sort of set the path and if things don’t work, they don’t work.”

While Levitt has always followed his aggressive approach at the top, a deeper understanding of his strengths didn’t come until the pre-season camp in South Africa in January, where he had extensive batting sessions with O’Dowd at the Gary Kirsten Academy’s indoor centre. The pair quickly developed a good understanding of each other and their roles. It meant he hit the ground running in Nepal producing one of the most memorable knocks in a Dutch shirt.

“It was a funny innings, that 135 [against Namibia]. It was probably one of my slowest starts, I was on 22 off 24. I was just waiting for an opportunity to get a couple balls away to find the rhythm. Batting with SA [Engelbrecht] and Max, I had very clear plans. Fortunately, a couple came off the middle of the bat and I rode the wave for as long as I could.”

The next few weeks will bring tougher challenges – and a chance to script more history – with World Cup group matches against South Africa, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal but first there’s a tri-series to be won at his home ground at Voorburg against Scotland and Ireland.

All matches will be livestreamed by the European Cricket Network (ECN) on YouTube.

Tri-Series fixture:

DayDateMatch Start
Saturday18-05-24Netherlands vs Scotland17.00
Sunday19-05-24Ireland vs Netherlands16.00
Monday20-05-24Ireland vs Scotland17.00
Wednesday22-05-24Scotland vs Netherlands17.00
Thursday23-05-24Ireland vs Scotland11.00
Friday24-05-24Ireland vs Netherlands 11.00



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