The yawning crevasse between the World 50-over champions and the Netherlands’ team of hard-working but inexperienced part-timers was again in evidence at the VRA Ground in Amstelveen on Sunday as England secured a comfortable six-wicket victory in the second match of their Super League series, but a late rally by the home side made their visitors work harder for their win than had seemed probable for most of the game.
The start was delayed by two and three quarter hours after overnight rain left a damp area just next to the pitch, and in that time it became known that Dutch skipper Pieter Seelaar would not be playing because of his persistent back injury; later in the day he announced his retirement from international cricket, ending a long and distinguished career.
Wicketkeeper-batter Scott Edwards stepped into the captaincy, while Seelaar’s absence meant a first international cap for left-arm spinner Tim Pringle, while Viv Kingma and Teja Nidamanuru returned in place of Philippe Boissevain and Musa Ahmad. England’s only change was to replace Sam Curran with Brydon Carse.
The late start meant a 41-over game, and when Eoin Morgan called incorrectly Edwards opted to bat.
England undoubtedly had the better of the opening exchanges: Vikramjit Singh was caught at square leg by Carse as he pulled unconvincingly at a David Willey bouncer; when Adil Rashid came on immediately after the eight-over powerplay Max O’Dowd was brilliantly caught, also at square leg by Dawid Malan, as he swept the leg-spinner; and then Tom Cooper, pushed up to three, after hitting two sweetly-timed boundaries was leg-before in the next over, to Carse’s second delivery of the match.
That made it 36 for three, and it brought Edwards in to join Bas de Leede with his side in some difficulty.
By the time the new skipper had reached 5 he had survived two DRS challenges, the first for LBW off Rashid when the ball-tracker overruled the on-field umpire, the second, in Rashid’s next over, for a leg-side catch by the keeper where it was confirmed that Edwards had not made contact with the ball.
But he and De Leede went on to add 61 for the fourth wicket at almost a run a ball, and after De Leede, on 34, got under a lofted drive off Liam Livingstone and holed out to Willey at mid-on, Edwards and Nidamanuru put on a further 73 for the fifth.
Edwards had gone to his second consecutive fifty, and his seventh in 19 ODI innings, this time off 55 deliveries, and despite the loss of Nidamanuru, bowled by Willey for 28, he seemed intent on pushing his side to a defensible total.
His innings came to an end, however, as he pushed for a second run and was just beaten by a fine throw by Willey from square leg; his 78 had come from 73 deliveries and included four fours and three sixes, the last of them a superb reverse scoop off Willey as the final powerplay began.
Pringle lasted two balls without scoring, and it was left to Logan van Beek and Shane Snater to negotiate the final overs, 62 coming from the powerplay as the Dutch managed to get their score to 235 for seven.
It never seemed likely to be enough, and when Jason Roy took 21 with a series of glorious strokes from the first dozen deliveries he received from Van Beek and Snater it looked as if we might be about to see a repetition of Friday’s devastation.
To his great credit Van Beek did contrive to slow Roy and Salt’s progress for a time, but without exerting themselves unduly the England openers were rolling along at almost seven an over, and both posted their half-centuries at a good deal better than a run a ball, Roy needing 44 deliveries and Salt just 37.
The total had reached 122 before Dutt achieved the breakthrough, Roy slashing at the final ball of an over which had already produced four boundaries, sliced it to Snater at short third man and departed for 73.
Six overs later Dutt had another, as Salt came down the wicket at the off-spinner and was bowled for 77, and England were 168 for two.
Morgan joined Malan, but although his innings lasted a little longer than Friday’s it was the effort of a man seriously out of form, and it was another swing across the line which saw him top-edge Cooper to Snater at point and again depart without scoring.
Pringle, who had bowled six overs before the advent of Cooper, immediately returned to bowl the dangerous Livingstone for 4, and three wickets had fallen for nine runs in the space of 19 deliveries, and at 177 for four the English reply seemed to be suffering a momentary glitch.
Had an LBW decision against Malan in Dutt’s next over been upheld the glitch might have been more than momentary, but for the second time in as many innings the batter received the benefit of the DRS algorithm and survived.
After conceding 30 off his first two overs Dutt was now looking a different proposition entirely, and with Cooper also bowling well at the other end Malan and Moeen Ali were forced to proceed cautiously towards their target.
They did, however, have plenty of overs in hand, and when Ali finally went after Cooper, striking him twice through mid-on for four and then over extra cover for another, only 23 were needed from the last nine overs.
A six and a four from Ali to finish the 35th over left the scores level, but Van Beek produced a splendid if ultimately fruitless maiden to Malan, and it was left to Ali to hit the winning boundary off the first ball of Snater’s next.
Ali finished with 42 from 40 deliveries and Malan with 36 from 50, while Van Beek had none for 26 from his six overs and Dutt two for 55 from nine, with just 25 coming his last seven.
Again the Dutch had fought hard against overwhelming odds, and if the outcome was never in doubt this was much less a shellacking than Friday’s debacle: the moral of the tale is that the Netherlands, and indeed the other leading Associates, need to play more ODIs rather than fewer against the Full Members.
Whether anyone is capable of grasping that message, or willing to heed it, is another matter entirely.
Feature picture: Sander Tholen
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