The Netherlands’ strength in depth will be tested over the next three weeks as the Dutch A and Under-19 squads take on international opposition in the inaugural European Cricket Championship and the European U19 World Cup Qualifier respectively.
It is the latter which is likely to be the more severe test, with Ireland, Scotland and Jersey the opponents and only the winner going through to the World Cup in the West Indies next year.
The Qualifier has been through some travails in the planning: originally scheduled to take place in Scotland, it was moved to La Manga in Spain, leading to the withdrawal of Denmark and Guernsey, and was recently shifted again, to the Desert Springs ground in Almería after concerns about the quality of the pitches at La Manga.
The Dutch squad is one of the strongest of recent times, with two players in VRA’s Vikram Singh and Voorburg’s Aryan Dutt having already played for the full national side and half the rest well-established regulars in their clubs’ first teams.
Singh’s club-mate Shirase Rasool, playing for ACC in 2019, became the youngest batter to post a century in the Dutch top flight, until Singh himself took the record away from him a fortnight later, and he will join opener Singh in a batting line-up which also includes Shreyas Potdar (ACC), Lucas del Bianco (Quick Haag), Dietmar Hennop (HCC) and allrounders Dutt, Shariz Ahmad (Groen en Wit) and Debrub Dasgupta (VRA).
The strength in the Netherlands’ bowling appears to reside mainly in the spin department, with the leg-spin of Siebe van Wingerden (VOC), the slow left-arm of Udit Nashier (VRA) and the off-breaks of Pierre Jacod (Kampong) and of 15-year-old Tazeem Ali (Warwickshire) all likely to play a significant part.
The pace attack will be spearheaded by Mies van Vliet (ACC), probably backed up mainly by Singh and Dutt, assuming that he is deployed primarily as a medium-pacer rather than an off-spinner (he has bowled both for his club and for the Dutch A team, sometimes in the same innings).
Full of promise at it is, the squad will face a considerable challenge reaching the World Cup, a competition they last qualified for in 2000.
The A side, on the other hand, can be more confident about the group phase at the Cártama Oval, where they will take on Romania, Portugal, Austria and Hungary and look to qualify for the finals at the same venue from 4-8 October.
There they will face Belgium and Spain, who have already qualified from Group A, plus two of an England XI, Italy, Germany, Finland and the Czech Republic.
If there are questions about the Under-19s’ pace attack, the same cannot apply to the A squad, whose pace unit includes Viv Kingma (Voorburg), a veteran of 48 matches for the Dutch national side, skipper Sebastiaan Braat and his Hermes-DVS club-mate Olivier Elenbaas, Ryan Klein (HBS), Niels Etman (Excelsior ’20) and Max Hoornweg (Sparta 1888).
Coach Shane Deitz’s biggest headache, indeed, seems likely to be who of that latter talented quartet will join Braat and Kingma in the final eleven.
For spinning options he has HCC’s Clayton Floyd, the leading wicket-taker in this season’s Topklasse, along with Julian de Mey and allrounder Navjit Singh (both HBS).
The top of the batting order – perhaps the only part likely to be seen, given the T10 format – will feature Musa Nadeem and Boris Gorlee (both HCC), Victor Lubbers (Salland) and Asad Zulfiqar (Punjab), along with Singh and De Mey, with Braat himself capable of scoring quick runs should he be needed.
Given the vagaries of the format, the biggest danger the side faces may be over-confidence, and they will need to stay disciplined as they take on teams more accustomed to this shortest of variants and often equipped with some big hitters of their own.
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