Thursday 18 August 2022

The Netherlands face NZ cricket challenge as T20 World Cup looms

Scott Edwards in action against England earlier this summer. Photo: Sander Koning ANP

Scott Edwards, the Dutch cricket captain, has had plenty of reasons to celebrate in the past few weeks.

Last month in Zimbabwe, in what was his first full series as the captain, he led the Netherlands to their fifth T20 World Cup appearance after finishing as the runners-up at the Qualifiers, and over the last weekend, he top-scored for VOC Rotterdam in the T20 Topklasse final against Excelsior’20 to help the club clinch their third title. All of this on the back of striking three consecutive ODI half-centuries against England in June.

Might there be a fourth reason to be upbeat about if they manage to cause their first upset of the summer against New Zealand in a two-match T20I series starting today?

‘We are looking to perform well and hopefully win one or two games. It’s a big chance for us to build on the style of cricket we want to be playing going into the World Cup,’ Edwards told Dutch News ahead of the first T20I in The Hague.

The World Cup qualification was significant given a raft of personnel changes after a humiliating winless finish at last year’s edition in the UAE, and the fact that the fixture list leading into the Qualifiers had no T20I scheduled. Edwards put the success down to role clarity for players, new and old.

‘One of the things we spoke about as a group on why we had a successful World Cup Qualifiers was the role clarity across all three departments: batting, bowling and fielding. We want to play a brave brand of cricket and trust the players that we have to execute their skills and the guys have really bought into that approach which is great.’

Fifth ranked

The two T20Is against the fifth-ranked side in the world, and the runners-up at the 2021 T20 World Cup, will doubtlessly be a stern test for the hosts who have no other T20 commitments ahead of the showpiece event in Australia, now only 11 weeks away. The series will therefore provide a crucial opportunity to fine-tune preparations for the Netherlands, who are ranked 18th in the world.

‘These two T20Is against New Zealand are the perfect stepping stone for the World Cup preparation that we will be having in the next couple of months. We have a few new guys coming into the squad which will give them an opportunity to showcase their T20 skills on the world stage and in front of a home crowd which is going to be awesome,’ Edwards said.

The scope for experimentation could mean a return to Oranje for Clayton Floyd, who has only played sparingly despite being around the squad. The left-arm spinner can turn the ball both ways and can lend a power-hitting heft to the lower middle-order with the first-ever International T10 hundred to his name. Pacemen Vivian Kingma and Ryan Klein are the other two returnees in place of Paul van Meekeren and Brandon Glover.

Regular names

New Zealand, despite missing regular names, landed in Amsterdam on the back of three series clean sweeps against Ireland and Scotland, winning five T20Is and four ODIs. A familiar adversary for the Dutch, who last featured against New Zealand in April in Oranje, will be Michael Rippon, the left-arm wrist-spin all-rounder who now represents the Blackcaps.

‘We had the Super League games against New Zealand earlier in the year so we have seen some of their players which gives us an idea of how they are going to go about their cricket in general and against our bowlers who have already bowled to them,’ said Edwards.

There is as much intrigue about the conditions in the Dutch camp as there would be for the touring Blackcaps for whom this is their first-ever visit to the shores. Voorburg has played host to only 5 T20Is till date, the last of which came nearly three years ago when UAE swept the series against the Dutch 4-0 in August 2019.

Four players

Only four players, including Scott Edwards, are part of the current squad from the one that took the field against the Emiratis and only Tom Cooper from their sole victory at this ground against Bangladesh in 2012.

‘Coming to VCC, the conditions are going to be slightly different. This being our home turf, we know bits and pieces about it but we haven’t played here as a group in a T20 for a while so we have to learn on the go in terms of how we set our powerplay, through the middle and the death overs,’ Edwards said.

‘But we are confident in the skillset of our bowlers and we have had our discussions about how we want to approach different overs in the game.’

Squads:

Netherlands: Stephan Myburgh, Max ODowd, Bas de Leede, Tom Cooper, Scott Edwards (w/c), Teja Nidamanuru, Tim Pringle, Logan van Beek, Aryan Dutt, Ryan Klein, Vivian Kingma, Clayton Floyd, Shariz Ahmad, Vikramjit Singh

New Zealand: Martin Guptill, Finn Allen, Dane Cleaver(w), Glenn Phillips, Daryl Mitchell, James Neesham, Michael Bracewell, Mitchell Santner (c), Lockie Ferguson, Ish Sodhi, Jacob Duffy, Blair Tickner, Michael Rippon, Mark Chapman, Ben Sears

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