Like most of their fellow-Associates and unlike those Full Members who could afford player bubbles and exorbitant airfares, the Netherlands spent 2020 cancelling international fixtures, with the result that 16 and a half months elapsed between the final of the Qualifier and the next international engagement for Pieter Seelaar’s men.
This was the triangular T20I tournament enterprisingly organised by Nepal in April 2021, which also featured Malaysia.
Partly through necessity but also in part through choice, Ryan Campbell’s squad for Kathmandu included only eight of the fifteen who had been in the UAE, two of whom – Philippe Boissevain and Tonny Staal – had not appeared in any of the matches.
This gave those who were on the fringes of the full side another opportunity to make their case, in the absence of those with provincial or county contracts, for a more central role in the national set-up, looking forward towards the T20 World Cup.
21-year-old Bas de Leede, son of former skipper Tim, made the most of this chance, following up his 41 in the initial nine-wicket loss to Nepal with a splendid 42-ball 81 not out to give the Dutch a 3-wicket victory in the return.
For the rest, though, it was mostly the more established players who caught the eye: Max O’Dowd’s unbeaten 133 from 73 deliveries in the first game against Malaysia confirmed how devastating he can be, particularly – but not exclusively – against a less than menacing attack, while two half-centuries by Ben Cooper further illustrated his value to the side.
The results were mixed, even before a final in which a tired Dutch team collapsed to 96 all out in pursuit of Nepal’s 238 for three, with the bowlers in particular showing the effects of their long lay-off.
Pieter Seelaar was the most economical, going at six-and-a-half an over when everyone else, in conditions which did bowlers few favours, were conceding ten or upward, but the faster men struggled – although Viv Kingma did produce one terrific final over to save a rain-affected second match against Malaysia.
In addition to those five T20Is the Dutch have played five ODIs, all at home: a two-game bilateral series against Scotland and the three-match Super League encounter with Ireland.
Only Netherlands-based players took part in the first, and several with county contracts (Ryan ten Doeschate, Shane Snater, Colin Ackermann and Roelof van der Merwe) were not released for the latter, the significance of the Super League notwithstanding, and none of those four has therefore turned out in orange since the T20 Qualifier.
All in all, therefore, a shared series with Scotland and a 2-1 win against Ireland was a pretty good outcome, and it was especially encouraging to see the Dutch attack in much better form, the high point coming in the Super League series decider, when Fred Klaassen, Timm van der Gugten and Logan van Beek combined to bowl Ireland out for 163.
Allrounder Van Beek’s return to the colours could be extremely valuable come the T20 World Cup, and it was encouraging, too, to see the recall of Stephan Myburgh, who contributed an excellent 74 in that third match against Ireland.
O’Dowd continues to make runs and must surely have been one of the first names on Ryan Campbell’s list, but with Brandon Glover, Snater, Kingma and Paul van Meekeren in contention with Klaassen, Van der Gugten and Van Beek for places in the pace unit, the final selection must have caused the coach quite a few headaches.
That, though, is the kind of problem no selector minds being confronted with.
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