Dutch to take on Afghanistan in Doha

Netherlands anthem

The Afghanistan Cricket Board has announced that its three Super League ODIs against the Netherlands will be played at the Asian Town Cricket Stadium in Doha, Qatar on 21, 23 and 25 January.

The matches will be the first ODIs staged at the 13,000-seat venue, located in an area designated for the Gulf country’s migrant workers.

The series will be the first in what promises to be the busiest year in history for the Dutch men’s side, with further Super League matches in New Zealand in March followed by visits to the Netherlands by England, the West Indies, and probably Pakistan, not forgetting the World T20 Cup Qualifier in Zimbabwe in July, and possibly two rearranged Super League fixtures in South Africa into the bargain.

Netherlands anthem
Netherlands at the T20 World Cup (Photo: ICC)

It will present some knotty selection problems for Dutch coach Ryan Campbell, given the limited availability of the Netherlands’ county-contracted players during the Northern Hemisphere summer.

While qualification for the 2023 50-over World Cup will still be determined in part by the Super League table, the narrowness of the pathway to that event and the ICC’s decision to abandon the Super League for the following cycle mean that the highest priority for the Netherlands – and for other leading Associates – will be reaching the T20 World Cup.

The ICC’s decision, which leaked out this week, to put the Dutch into the July qualifier in Zimbabwe rather than the earlier event in Oman may well lead to half-a-dozen county-contracted players being unavailable for the Zimbabwe tournament, and it would be understandable if Campbell were to use every opportunity to give more international experience to those who are likely to be in contention for his T20 squad.

He was already forced to take a less than full-strength squad to South Africa for the aborted series there, with Ben Cooper, Paul van Meekeren and Tobias Visée making themselves unavailable for personal reasons, and Logan van Beek back with Wellington in New Zealand.

They were replaced by the HCC trio of Musa Ahmad, Clayton Floyd and Boris Gorlee as well as Essex fast man Shane Snater.

Campbell’s policy of trying out a range of players in non-ICC events in 2018-19 – 28 players appeared in Dutch colours over those two years – means that there’s a significant pool with at least a little international experience, although it’s fair to say that few have made a strong case for themselves, Bas de Leede being the only one who has successfully made the transition from the fringe to the core team.

The squad for Doha, however, will give a strong indication of the relative importance in the coach’s mind of proving a Super League point – and claiming Super League points – as against building the strongest possible unit for Zimbabwe.

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