Netherlands’ Overdijk takes game to new heights

Finishing with figures of 7/3, Frederique Overdijk made headlines around the world.

Not once has a male cricketer in the fourteen years of T20I cricket managed to take over six wickets in an innings. The best figures in men’s game belong to India’s Deepak Chahar, and his breathtaking 6-for against Bangladesh in 2019 is yet to be bettered. But that’s an area of improvement for the men to worry about.

For where the women’s game is concerned, it already has taken a leap and a giant one at that where bowling is concerned.

Not Ellyse Perry, nor the great Sana Mir either. Not any among India’s foxy Poonam Yadav, White Ferns’ brave Sophie Devine and not even the greatest T20I spinner of her age, Anisa Mohammed have reached where the Netherlands’ Frederique Overdijk has and that too, in the precursor to the Women’s T20 World Cup; the ongoing qualifiers.

By taking 7/3 – let that sink in – Frederique Overdijk, as of August 26, 2021, registered the best-ever figures in a women’s T20 international.

Not only did the right-arm medium fast-bowler record the greatest bowling figures by any Dutch cricketer- male or female – she’s blazed a trail for the others to follow.

In a rampaging bowling performance that bundled out French women for a meager, disappointing 33, it was about a matter of time before Netherlands pounced on what eventually became an easy run-chase.

Winning the Cartagena contest by 9 wickets in the end, the Netherlands were sparked by a great bowling spell based on the Overdijk’s irrepressible guile and next-to-perfect line and length.

What stood out and must make heads turn, if it hasn’t already, is that six of her eventual seven dismissals came by way of uprooting the batters’ stumps. Something that would prompt Lee, Shoaib, Perry, Akram, Ambrose, Brunt and the likes to join hands in pure admiration.

It turned out to be a bowling performance so uncannily brilliant and impactful that it never allowed any French batter a moment of reprieve.

This can be gauged by the fact that Fredrique Overdijk, who took seven of her eleven T20I wickets in a single day ensured not a single French batter got into double figures.

The worst sufferer of the Overdijk-enforced plight being the captain Tara Britton, whose painful stay at the crease saw 5 runs being scored in nearly as many overs in the middle; the right-hander staying put for 29 deliveries for France’s second-best score of the inning, the highest being 8.

Yet, more interestingly, it wasn’t the Netherlands’ only game of the day; the Heather Siegers-led team finding itself blanked out by Scotland earlier in the day. The Scots winning merrily by 4 wickets in a contest where Overdijk would end up wicketless only to turn up a few hours later to script mesmeric headlines.

In going one wicket better than Nepal’s Anjali Chand, who prior to the Dutch magic show, held the best bowling figures record in the women’s game, a sensational six for naught spell against the Maldives, Frederique Overdijk has well and truly arrived in the game.

Moreover, to shine brightly in a format that’s often siding with the exploits of the bat, where domination of the white-ball is the order of the day, Overdijk’s exemplary performance warrants greater appreciation than given.

Being all of 21, an age where some break into international cricket, the right-arm medium fast, who debuted at 19 against Ireland in 2019, is today a galvanizing factor in the Netherlands’ cricket.

Moreover, it’s hard to believe that Overdijk, who went wicket-less in her maiden T20I spell, wherein she conceded 27 from just two overs has entered record books at the back of a backbreaking spell.

If cricket ever wanted an inspirational tale of a turnaround, then, one reckons, this is it.

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