After a unique and in many ways extremely encouraging 2022, the Dutch men’s and women’s teams can look forward to a testing 2023.
For the men, the year begins with a visit to Zimbabwe and South Africa in late March, where they will complete their Super League programme with three matches against the former and two against the Proteas.
Their biggest challenge, however, will come in Zimbabwe in June and July, when they will take part in the qualifying tournament for the 50-over World Cup, due to be played in India towards the end of the year.
With only two teams progressing from the qualifier for the last of the ICC’s ten-team World Cups the competition is certain to be intense: four Full members will be involved, including the hosts and quite possibly Ireland, South Africa and Afghanistan, although the West Indies and Sri Lanka could still find themselves in the bottom five of the Super League.
The contenders will also include Scotland, Oman and on current form Namibia from League Two, although the UAE are an outside chance, and two of the six teams from the Qualifier Play-off in Namibia, which could be drawn from Canada, Jersey, the USA, Papua New Guinea, Nepal and the UAE.
One thing is certain: there will be few easy games, and the odds are heavily stacked against any of the Associates making it to India. Which is, of course, the point.
There is also the question of how strong a squad the Dutch will be able to put together, with the tournament taking place in the middle of the English domestic season: with two rounds of County Championship matches due to be played in that period and the Vitality Blast blasting away as well, it seems improbable that whatever the Mandatory Release system may theoretically say, there will be little to no chance of Scott Edwards’ side including county-contracted players like Fred Klaassen, Paul van Meekeren, Colin Ackermann, Roelof van der Merwe, Brandon Glover or Shane Snater.
Without in any way wishing him ill, the Dutch will be crossing their fingers that Bas de Leede, emerging as a key allrounder in all formats, will not have gained a county contract and will continue to be available – one of the constraints on the development of the side being the KNCB’s apparent inability to hang on to its more talented home-produced players by offering them attractive contracts in the Netherlands.
The prospect of being without their county-contracted players in the summer might also mean that, given that there is little more than pride at stake in those Super League games in March, the selectors may prefer to give some more experience to the Dutch-based players who will need to step up in June, even though for that trip they are unlikely to be able to call on Tim Pringle or Logan van Beek, both of whom are currently involved in New Zealand domestic cricket.
Either way, the future of the men’s side needs players like Vikram Singh, at 19 already the veteran of 12 ODIs and eight T20 Internationals, his young contemporaries Aryan Dutt and Shariz Ahmad, and Shariz’s elder brother Musa Nadeem to play an increasingly influential role.
And in the absence of a serious A-team programme – although it’s an encouraging sign that an A team will have a five-day visit to England in May – they and those who are coming up behind them are only going to learn the realities of international cricket by playing in the full glare of major competition.
For the women, the series against Thailand at Chiang Mai in November was an invaluable learning experience, which should stand them in good stead as they prepare for their big event of 2023, the T20 World Cup European qualifier in Spain at the end of August.
They will renew their battle with the Thais, along with Scotland, on their own soil in July, before which they will take on slightly less formidable opposition in Germany and Jersey, also at home, in late May.
In Babette de Leede, Sterre Kalis and captain Heather Siegers they have batters of proven quality, while Iris Zwilling emerged as an outstanding exponent of the new ball.
Although they are still in the very early stages of their international careers, 22-year-old Frédérique Overdijk and 20-year-old Hannah Landheer show signs of developing into valuable seamers as well, and in leg-spinners Caroline de Lange and Silver Siegers and the off spin of Eva Lynch the slower bowlers also have a good deal to offer.
The matches against Germany and Jersey, moreover, may give coach Shane Deitz a chance to extend the international experience of Robyn van Oosterom, who had very limited opportunities in Thailand, and perhaps to introduce one or two more of the younger brigade, like Phebe Molkenboer, Merel Dekeling, and Kristine Smits.
Off the field, a crucial question is what the ICC is planning for the next cycle: with the lamentable disappearance of the Super League, the Dutch men will, assuming they perform reasonably well in the Qualifier, presumably revert to a place in whatever version of League 2 will be settled upon, but what they will really need is some decent fixtures against Full member opposition.
And who would venture a bet on that happening any time soon?
You’re reading Emerging Cricket — brought to you by a passionate group of volunteers with a vision for cricket to be a truly global sport, and a mission to inspire passion to grow the game.
Be sure to check out our homepage for all the latest news, please subscribe for regular updates, and follow EC on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube.
Don’t know where to start? Check out our features list, country profiles, and subscribe to our podcast.
Support us from US$2 a month — and get exclusive benefits, by becoming an EC Patron.