The Netherlands gets a second indoor cricket centre

A few years ago travellers on the 199 bus route in Amstelveen, on the outskirts of Amsterdam, would encounter in the late afternoon a beturbaned young lad with his equally beturbaned father, lugging a bag of cricket gear and heading to Amsterdam Zuid station.

The boy in question was Vikram Singh, not yet into his teens, and he and his father were starting their weekly pilgrimage by bus, train, tram and on foot to reach Vikram’s Dutch Lions training session in the indoor nets at VOC’s complex, 75 kilometres south in Rotterdam.

Singh, still not yet 18, is now a seasoned member of VRA Amsterdam’s Topklasse side, the youngest-ever century-maker in the Dutch top flight competition, and last year made his international debut for the Netherlands in a T20 International against Scotland at Malahide.

youth Vikram Singh
Vikram Singh (Photo: ICC/KNCB)

Most members of the Dutch Lions squads and their families have not had to show quite the same fortitude as the Singhs, but with the VOC centre the only proper indoor cricket net in the country generations of young players have been forced to travel to Rotterdam throughout the long closed season for their regular training sessions.

That all changed last week with the opening of the Netherlands’ second purpose-built indoor nets, a three-lane facility at the VRA ground, on the other side of Amstelveen from Singh’s home.

First conceived around fifteen years ago by VRA’s late groundsman Paul Polak, the new centre has had to overcome numerous obstacles, not only the necessary funding but also the strict planning requirements in the parkland of the Amsterdamse Bos, where VRA is situated, and the physical characteristics of the site, which is essentially reclaimed marshland.

This latter factor necessitated the sinking of 125 piles to support the weight of the new building.

So it will have been with considerable pride of achievement that the club’s three-man building committee of Peter van Gulik, former Dutch international Ewoud de Man and Theo Lindemann and overseers Lindemann and Benno van Nierop saw Ryan Campbell’s senior men’s squad inaugurate the new nets on 17 November.

The complex, which VRA is keen to see employed as a regional facility, available for hire by other club and community organisations, as well as for use by national squads and the club’s own members, is part of a larger reconstruction and refurbishment of the original clubhouse.

The next stage, which the club hopes to have ready for the ICC Super League fixtures scheduled for next summer, will involve an extension to the clubhouse itself, so that a dedicated secure area can be provided for players and match officials such as the umpires, Match Referee and scorers without closing the entire building to members and the general public.

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