Good news on several fronts for Dutch cricket

Netherlands celebrate

So far-reaching were the governance issues underlying Wednesday evening’s general meeting of the KNCB that it would be easy for them to overshadow other developments, and it’s therefore not surprising that several speakers – not least new chairman Jurgen Delfos – pleaded for greater focus on cricket and less on the Bond’s internal tribulations.

Some of the best news of the evening came with outgoing chair Betty Timmer’s announcement that the men’s Super League series against Ireland in June will be televised by Dutch cable operator Ziggo, the first time that the national side’s matches – or indeed, any Dutch cricket – will be broadcast live in the Netherlands.
This enormous coup offers great potential for promotion of the sport to the domestic market, and will come as welcome compensation to existing Dutch cricket fans who are likely to be unable to attend the matches in person because of COVID restrictions.

It will provide a valuable boost to CEO Milena van Not’s efforts in marketing and communications, which will also include, the meeting heard, the development of a KNCB YouTube channel and enhanced use of other digital media.

There was also positive news about the long-running Competitions Taskforce, which has made little concrete progress after three years of exhaustive consultation about its difficult remit of coming up with a domestic competition structure which balances the competing needs of men’s, women’s and youth cricket with those of the national teams.

Delfos was able to able to announce that leadership of the Taskforce will now be taken over by former Voorburg chairman Richard de Lange, who presented the meeting with an ambitious timeline culminating in final proposals at the December general meeting.

Rod Lyall spoke with Nick Skinner on the background to the issues surrounding the KNCB general meeting

‘The time for exploration is over,’ said De Lange, employing the terminology of the intricate process, currently dominating the news, of finding a new national government; ‘we must now come together and form [a model].

‘And we must all understand that being heard is not the same as getting what you want.’

De Lange’s approach was widely welcomed by club delegates anxious for clearer communication and positive action.

But if chairman Delfos thought that his first meeting would end in harmony and goodwill on all sides, he soon had a reminder of how hard it is to keep everyone happy in Dutch cricket.

In response to secretary Robert Vermeulen’s presentation of the arrangements for the 2021 season, where COVID restrictions mean that only the top men’s and women’s divisions will be able to start in May and everything else remains uncertain, Pim Huizing, chairman of Hoofdklasse (second division) club Bloemendaal, drew a sharp contrast between the way the Board dealt with the Topklasse clubs and the treatment of clubs in the lower divisions.

The problem arises from the resistance of clubs in the top flight to relegation when they may find it difficult to recruit their preferred overseas professionals, while the Hoofdklasse clubs have an understandable wish to play for promotion.

The Board’s solution was to allow two clubs to go up in 2021, producing a 12-team Topklasse and an 8-team Hoofdklasse for one season in 2022.

But this is unacceptable to some Hoofdklasse clubs, who argue that an 8-team competition will give them insufficient games. And their dissatisfaction may be exacerbated by the proposal with there should be a play-off in 2021 between the bottom Hoofdklasse club and the champions of the Eerste Klasse (i.e. third division), all this assuming that there will be at least a nine-match competition in these divisions this season.

The Board agreed to have another think about the problem, but one couldn’t help remembering De Lange’s remark about the difference between being heard and getting what you want.

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