If Sunday’s game had revealed a crevasse between the sides in the Super League series at the VRA ground in Amstelveen, the final match suggested it was more a yawning chasm, as England’s full-timers produced another commanding performance against their less experienced hosts.
The Netherlands were reinforced by the arrival of two county-contracted pace men in Fred Klaassen and Paul van Meekeren, but even three half-centuries among the top five could not disguise the limitations of the Dutch batting, while England were ruthless in their pursuit of a disappointing total of 244.
Put in to bat by Jos Buttler, deputising for the injured Eoin Morgan, the Dutch again lost Vikram Singh early, as the left-hander mistimed a pull at a short delivery from his nemesis David Willey and was caught by Dawid Malan at short midwicket.
Tom Cooper was missed by Liam Livingstone before he had scored, but he went on to make 33 as he and Max O’Dowd added 72 for the second wicket in 13 overs, ultimately falling to a very good catch on the square leg boundary by the same fielder as he mistimed a pull off Brydon Carse.
O’Dowd brought up his half-century, his sixth in ODIs, but almost immediately was caught by Buttler off Livingstone, and although Bas de Leede and Scott Edwards put on 84 for the fourth wicket they again had trouble maintaining the momentum against a disciplined England attack, and boundaries were few and far between, just two coming in the 15 overs they were together.
Nevertheless, De Leede reached his maiden ODI fifty, making 56 before he, too, fell pulling, this time off Adil Rashid, and his departure off the last delivery before the final powerplay occasioned a dramatic collapse in which six more wickets fell for the addition of just 41 runs.
Edwards again stood firm amongst the wreckage, hitting his third successive half-century and his fourth in five innings, but he eventually was the ninth to go, giving debutant David Payne his first ODI wicket in the penultimate over, and Willey cleaned up to finish with four for 36.
The lack of firepower in the middle and lower order has been a problem for the Dutch all summer, but to go from 203 for three to 244 all out on a perfectly good batting surface was a disappointing effort.
Once again the Netherlands needed early wickets, but Klaassen and Logan van Beek produced seven profligate overs in which Jason Roy and Phil Salt raced to 60 against bowling which was consistently too short.
Van Meekeren briefly raised Dutch hopes, angling a delivery in to take Salt’s leg stump when he had made a 30-ball 49 and then, two balls later, bowling Malan around his legs as he walked across his stumps in an effort to clip him to leg.
That, however, brought Buttler in to join Roy, and they rapidly slammed the door shut, hammering 17 fours – the same number the Dutch managed in their entire innings – and five sixes in their unbroken stand of 163 in 125 deliveries to complete their side’s eight-wicket victory with 19.5 overs to spare.
Just before the end Roy completed his second consecutive century, finishing on 101 from 86 deliveries with 15 fours, while Buttler made a 64-ball 86, comparatively restrained by his standards, with seven fours and five sixes.
Klaassen came back well from a poor start; Van Meekeren, though his figures were spoiled by an expensive final over, was the pick of the seamers; and Tim Pringle was as effective as anyone in containing a rampant England top order.
But for all the talk of ‘learnings’, the most significant lesson of this series between the 50-over world champions and a half-strength Dutch side was that there are fundamental problems both in Dutch cricket and the organisation of the global game which will have to be addressed if such scarifying experiences are to become a thing of the past.
Inadequate funding, poor policy decisions, the travesty of the ‘mandatory release’ system, the reluctance of the Full Members to play the leading Associates unless compelled to do so, all contribute to that yawning chasm which has been so much in evidence this week.
It could all be better, but only if the ‘learnings’ which have supposedly been achieved by the players are matched among the administrators, both in the Netherlands and elsewhere.
Feature picture: Sander Tholen
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