The Netherlands’ much-anticipated ‘Summer of Cricket’ gets under way this week with the first of three Super League series, when the men in orange take on the West Indies at the VRA ground in Amstelveen.
The Dutch will again be without most of their contingent of county-contracted players, with only Fred Klaassen taking part and Colin Ackermann, Brandon Glover, Timm van der Gugten, Paul van Meekeren, Roelof van der Merwe and Shane Snater engaged elsewhere.
Preparations for the series have also been disrupted by the medical crisis suffered by coach Ryan Campbell, although the KNCB has brought in South African Ryan Cook to take over until Campbell is fit enough to return.
Cook’s squad includes one new face, that of Indian-born former Auckland all-rounder Teja Nidamanuru, who plays his club cricket for Punjab Rotterdam and who impressed during the Dutch side’s recent visit to England, making 89 on his first outing against a Northamptonshire Second XI.
It will be a big step up to face Nicholas Pooran’s West Indies side, although they, too, will be missing some big names, notably Jason Holder and Shimron Hetmyer.
Nidamanuru may well reinforce a Dutch batting line-up which has struggled to get past 200 in recent outings, and which will now be missing not only Ackermann but also Stephan Myburgh, who bowed out of international cricket with a memorable 43-ball 64 against New Zealand at Hamilton in April.
The impending abolition of the Super League has taken some of the pressure off the Dutch, who currently have just two wins against Ireland from their ten games so far, and who seem certain to be heading for next year’s World Cup Qualifier in Zimbabwe.
That, combined with the absence of the county players, creates an opportunity for younger, Dutch-produced members of the squad to develop on the international stage, and there will be considerable interest in the progress of 19-year-old left-hander Vikram Singh and versatile allrounder Aryan Dutt, also 19.
The series could also see the international debut of a third 19-year-old, spinner Shariz Ahmad, who travelled to New Zealand but did not get a game in any of the ODIs.
The top order is likely to feature Shariz’s elder brother Musa Nadeem, who has yet to get going in Dutch colours but who may claim a place alongside the more established batting line-up of Max O’Dowd, Scott Edwards, Bas de Leede and skipper Pieter Seelaar.
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He will probably be competing with Tonny Staal, who has played in 14 T20 Internationals for the Netherlands but who has yet to appear in an ODI.
The pace attack will see the return of Viv Kingma, who missed the New Zealand tour because of suspension, and he will join Klaassen, Logan van Beek, Ryan Klein and De Leede in a quintet of quicker bowlers.
Depending on who makes the final eleven, Seelaar may have plenty of spin options at his disposal: as well as himself, he can call on another left-armer in Clayton Floyd, the off-breaks of Dutt, and the leg-spin of Philippe Boissevain and Shariz.
The West Indies squad also features a number of newcomers, and there will be plenty of interest in batter Keacy Carty, who comes from Sint Maarten and who therefore was qualified to play for the Netherlands as well as for the tourists: Sint Maarten is a Dutch territory, and one of Carty’s fellow-countrymen, Daniel Doram, played three matches for the Netherlands as well as for various age-group teams before returning to ply his trade with the Leeward Islands.
With batters of the quality of Shai Hope, Shamarh Brooks and Pooran himself, a pace attack which includes Alzarri Joseph, Jayden Seales and Shermon Lewis, as well as the left-arm spin of Akeal Hosein and the leg-spin of former USA international Hayden Walsh the West Indies will obviously start as firm favourites, but Seelaar and Cook will be hoping that their side can rise to the occasion, take advantage of home conditions and a slightly experimental touring party, and ensure that the Dutch cricketing public sees a truly competitive series.
One member of the party is certainly no stranger to the Netherlands: head coach Phil Simmons was a member of the last West Indies side to visit, losing the first of two matches on coconut matting in Haarlem in a team which also included Desmond Haynes, Richie Richardson and Malcolm Marshall, and frequently returning during his eight years as coach of Ireland.
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