Cricket in Clogs book review

In Cricket In Clogs, a select group of 29 (former) Dutch internationals each reflect on one single match.

Former Dutch international JJ Esmeijer’s latest book, Cricket in Clogs, is a collection of personal reflections from those who have appeared in the 29 ODIs the Dutch have played across five World Cups from 1996 to 2023. It is a gem of a book, suffused with charm and humour and provides a fascinating insight into feelings and stories behind the players and scorecards. Together with the wonderful pictures that capture moments fans rarely get to see, it provides a very welcome counterpoint to dry analysis and reportage.

Cricket in Clogs is crammed with personality from first page to last from the heroes of earlier eras such as PJ Bakker and Lubbers, to long serving legends like Tim De Leede and stars of the current team like Bas De Leede and Paul Van Meekeren. They all provide unique reflections on particular games with an onus on the amusing, weird and wonderful. What unites them all is the pride of donning an Oranje shirt (or in Edgar Schiferli’s case his mothers’) and the joy and enduring memories of travelling the world with friends, meeting idols, learning from the best and putting dutch cricket on the map.

Of course during the timespan covered in the book Dutch cricket has changed, associate cricket has certainly changed and as for the world at large… well, everyone can read a newspaper. But although the cricketing careers of Feiko Kloppenburg and Logan Van Beek may be worlds apart, they have shared an experience and are part of a collective memory that is cherished in the Dutch cricket community and of great interest to many more across the world.

Reading the book I felt the anger of the ICC’s restrictive, exclusive attitude to its flagship event welling up yet again. A loss here and there at a qualifying event and all of the rich experiences captured in the book would not have happened, the players not been given that opportunity to test themselves at a global event with the eyes of the world on them. And not just The Netherlands, but the parallel stories for other leading associate nations, each with their own heritage, pride and unique take on the game. But that way madness lies.

Esmeijer and Krijn Vrolik judged it perfectly and in focusing on stories rather than analysis have found a point of difference that makes for an entertaining and memorable read. I’m tempted to share some of the wonderful anecdotes shared by the protagonists, but I won’t because you should buy the book and relish them in your own time. In a wonderful and heartfelt initiative, money from sales of the book will be funding cricket kit for kids from disadvantaged neighbourhoods in South Africa. The authors’ target is to sell a thousand copies of Cricket in Clogs for this very worthy cause. It would leave a thousand happy readers and a thousand schoolchildren with the chance to follow in the footsteps of the likes of Makhaya Ntini and Kagiso Rabada.

For more details, or to purchase a copy of Cricket in Clogs, visit the official website.

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