Anyone who witnessed the first encounter of the triptych between the Netherlands and England on Friday can hardly imagine that the current world champion was ever fooled by the small cricketing nation. But it’s true, even if it’s been almost fifteen years now.
Mick Jagger – then in a positive mood due to the heated atmosphere – had just thrown his last hip cradle and then saw the English defeated by the Netherlands in a real thriller. Not in an exchangeable practice match, but on the opening day of the 2009 World Championship. And not on any secondary ground, but on the Holy Lords: known as “The Home of Cricket “. A story in which that of David and Goliath almost eclipses.
Where in 2009, and later also in 2014, the Netherlands won against England, today there is no question of delay. The Brits leave nothing to chance and with stars such as Jos Buttler, Jason Roy and Adil Rashid they have the absolute A garment at their disposal. The result was a more than monotonous match on Friday. The English pulverized the Netherlands with a score of no less than 498 runs. A number never reached on a day of competition: a world record.
The three One Day Internationals (ODIs) between the two countries, each home to Amsterdam cricket club VRA in Amstelveen, are dominated by the ICC Super League. In it, the top thirteen countries in the world are playing for eight places at the World Cup. A great opportunity for the Netherlands to compete against the strongest cricketing nations. He has already played in Amstelveen against the West Indies, Pakistan comes to Rotterdam in August. England is the tough snack.
In the second game against the English, Sunday starts slowly. Due to heavy rain in the morning and a leaky tarp over the pitch, the pitch is soggy. As a result, the risk of slippage is high and delays follow delays. The match will start, cut short, a little less than three hours later than planned. The first ball is kicked against two and within minutes the Netherlands make a mixed impression. This leads to three withdrawals within the hour. Not a best score even though Orange cricketers are recovering. After 41 overs, the counter stands at 235 runs.
five thousand cricketers
One of the participants in Amstelveen is Roland Lefebvre, former international manager and now national team high performance manager. Although the Netherlands do not play a major role in world cricket, he calls it special that they are allowed to participate in the Super League. „There are twelve professional countries, the full members of the International Cricket Association ICC. We are the only small participating country. So you can say that we are the best of non-professionals. That’s really nice.
Dutch cricket has 5,000 active members and is growing steadily at 4%. Partly due to foreign influences. In some youth teams, so many Indians play that the official language is Hindi. Internationals such as Max O’Dowd, Vikramjit Singh and Scott Edwards have dual nationality, their roots are in real cricketing countries. “We desperately need these guys,” said Lefebvre firmly. “We couldn’t go on without them. It is difficult to train the world’s best players in the Netherlands, as we have to make do with a four-month summer and limited competition. You can’t make them train in a hall all winter and expect them to face the big countries in the summer. It is important for the development of our players that they evolve beyond borders. Of the current selection, only Tom Cooper and Shane Snater are playing overseas.
“Army of Fools”
In Amstelveen, the sun has returned, which benefits the mood of the spectators. Around six thousand tickets were sold – at least eighty percent of them to English people. It remains to be seen if they will all come, because dozens of English fans would have drunk it so much on Friday that they are no longer expected today. This confirms once again the image of the ‘Barmy Army’, the legion which moves after the English national team by the thousands, infinitely often My dear Caroline sings and with hundreds of assembled empty plastic cups’bear snakeswriggle through the bleachers. on Twitter went a video This last scene quickly went viral.
They are used to the fact that fanatics are also served good cricket to top it all off. England are the current ODI world champions and number two in the world rankings, just behind New Zealand. According to experts, it has in its ranks the best player of the moment, Jos Buttler. “He can sign a blank check at any club in the world,” says Tim de Leede, a record international with 237 matches in the Netherlands. “We are talking about a salary of several million a year. In comparison, we only have six players who are paid at all.
Despite the difference in strength on the pitch and on paper, De Leede, who retired after the 2007 World Cup, notices that the sport is developing positively in the Netherlands. “When I was still playing, you had to stay active in the winter months and pay for your own fitness. Now the national team travels all over the world and works with a twelve-month schedule. I sometimes envy that.
But what always sticks with cricket is its image. The sport is said to be boring, difficult to understand and reserved for the elite. “Nonsense,” says De Leede. “The days of performing in fancy white suits and stopping in between for a high tea or a hearty lunch are long gone.”
Monica Visser, the new director of the Dutch cricket association KNCB, can laugh about it. Although she is aware of the prejudices that people have. “I really think the picture could use a varnish.” Visser led the Dutch rowing federation for almost ten years. Under his leadership, rowing grew to 40,000 members, an increase of more than thirty percent. She will start at the KNCB in mid-July and has also been tasked with expanding the global sport of cricket in the Netherlands. To that end, Visser not only wants to use Dutch internationals as ambassadors and invest in youth, she also believes it is important to strengthen relations with the 50-plus associations. “As soon as the sport develops at club level, it also develops at national level. I believe that club life is really the basis of sport. That’s where it has to take place, because that’s where you will achieve growth.
To the sounds of Hey Jude the baton has now been changed and England must attempt to overtake the Netherlands’ 235 runs. It starts, with the rain clouds in the back, stormy. Although the Barmy Army isn’t working on that anymore. Dozens of them beg a field security officer to return a misplaced beach ball. Shortly after, the first streaker shows up.
The Dutch team manages this time to limit the damage, but around quarter to eight, the second game is over as England reach 239 points. On Wednesday, the Orange team will have another chance.
A version of this article also appeared in the newspaper of June 20, 2022
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