Just when one thought that the 2023 World Cup Qualifier had already delivered its quota of thrillers, out came the Dutch with a performance for the ages!
In what was one of the most stunning heists in recent cricket history, Netherlands chased down 278 in 42.5 overs to leapfrog Scotland and Zimbabwe on Net Run Rate (all three teams had finished on six points) to seal qualification for the 2023 Cricket World Cup. The win was made possible due to the Herculean efforts of one man, 23-year-old all-rounder Bas de Leede. He joined rarefied company by becoming only the fourth man in ODI history to score a century and take 5 wickets in the same game.
The Dutch win further highlights the absurdity and limitations of ICC’s ten team World Cup and is a testament to cricket’s continuing elitism and exclusivity. Full Members Zimbabwe, Ireland and West Indies all missed out on qualification and Scotland who beat three Full Members in a single tournament, also failed to make the cut in heart-breaking fashion.
While an “expansion” back to 14 teams from 2027 onwards is welcome, the two consecutive ten team World Cups in 2019 and 2023 have done considerable damage to the sport’s global ambitions and reputation.
With that said, this article is a celebration of Netherlands’ defiance and courage against all odds. It highlights the five key players who made the World Cup qualification happen (stats exclude the final vs Sri Lanka) despite the Dutch having as many as seven players unable for selection due to County cricket commitments.
1. Bas de Leede
282 runs at 47.50 and 15 wickets at 22.13
In an interview with Emerging Cricket last year, ex-coach Ryan Campbell had described Bas de Leede as a special generational talent in Dutch cricket. “This kid can bat No.3 to No.7, can bowl first change or can open the bowling. Plus, he was clocked at 140 km/h this year in the Netherlands and is the best fielder in Europe.”
While de Leede has always displayed sporadic flashes of brilliance with both bat and ball, never has he combined those skills so brilliantly and lethally like he did against Scotland. First he bowled superbly through the middle and death overs to pick up his inaugural five-wicket haul and restrict Scotland to 277/9. Then with the required run rate shooting up and World Cup qualification on the line, de Leede unleashed an innings of pure brutality after a sedate start. He finished on 123 off 92 balls, with an incredible 38 runs scored off the last 14 deliveries.
It was the perfect conclusion to a sensational tournament for the young Dutchman. De Leede finished as the team’s second best run scorer as well as the highest wicket-taker; his 15 wickets at 22.65 also meriting him a second placed finish on the overall tournament bowling charts. In a team missing regular pacers Paul van Meekeren, Fred Klaassen and Brandon Glover due to county commitments, de Leede’s contributions were like gold dust.