Netherlands' big lesson on ODI return: "It isn't over till it's over"
When the playing XI from Nepal and the Netherlands walked to the middle at Amstelveen early in August, it was a tough choice to say for whom the day meant more. Where Nepal were making their one-day international debut, it was the Netherlandsâ first ODI in four years.
The loss of ODI status back in the ICC World Cup Qualifier 2014 in New Zealand had come as a shock for the Dutch side. Perhaps it was a case of trying too hard. Perhaps they were just not good enough on the week, they thought. But they refused to think it was all over for them, fighting through the ICC World Cricket League Championship to return to the top level of the sport.
Stepping on to the field for this ODI was validation of all the hard work.Video The Netherlands win World Cricket League Championship to book the 13th and final spot in new ODI league There was exhilaration and excitement as the world welcomed its newest ODI member. The Netherlands dominated the ICC World Cricket League Championship, winning 10 out of its 14 games to claim the 13th position in the league. This means that it will now play 24 ODIs against Full Members from 2020-22 for 2023 ICC Cricket World Cup qualification. Having lost ODI status three years ago, this marks a big leap forward for Dutch cricket.
âA few of our guys were part of the team that lost ODI status in 2014,â Pieter Seelaar, the 31-year-old skipper who walked out to the toss in the Nepal match, told ICC. âWeâve experienced the feeling of losing everything weâve played for previously. So, for us, there was a lot more history to [the return].
âThe new guys picked it up as well, because they knew what weâd been working o n for the last four years or so, so they embraced it.â
âEveryone was excited to get back to the ODI thick of things,â added Stephan Myburgh, 34, their left-hand batter. âIt means a lot, not just personally for me but the whole country. Weâve worked extremely hard over the last four years to get back ODI status, so it was really nice to get another opportunity.â
"Weâve experienced the feeling of losing everything weâve played for previously. So, for us, there was a lot more history."
Five youngsters stood in line to get their maiden ODI caps, but, surprisingly, there were no nerves. They meant to take it all in and enjoy every moment.
Shane Snater, the 22-year-old Zimbabwe-born pacer who played his youth cricket there before making his home in the Netherlands, was one of them. But the Essex youngster, who happens to be a cousin of Englandâs Jason Roy, didnât need to be told what i t meant to be playing at the highest level.
Just days before, he was at Lordâs with the squad for the T20 tri-series with Nepal and MCC, âseeing the history and walking through the rooms, seeing such great players on the walls and sitting in the change roomâ. Now, here was another memorable milestone.
âThere are a lot of guys who arenât a part of the team anymore, whoâd been a huge part of gaining ODI status,â Snater pointed out. âIt was mentioned to some of us who havenât been around as long that this was a big occasion. But everyone knew that and wanted to rise up to the occasion and just do well for themselves and for the team, present or past.â
Their captain did his bit to keep the team calm. Itâs just another game of cricket, he reminded them. âJust because itâs an ODI doesnât change the fact that itâs a battle between bat and ball. You canât get all wound up about it. In the end itâs all about the ball youâre about to deliver or the shot youâre about to play.âVideo Netherlands talk Double Dutch success Netherlands talk Double Dutch success
The captainâs relaxed attitude and the youthful energy of the new faces were two key elements to this Netherlands side, setting it slightly apart from the Dutch teams of, say, a few years ago.
Seelaar, the left-arm spin-bowling all-rounder, took over from the respected Peter Borren, who retired in April after the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier 2018. Borren had been a pugnacious and emotional player and leader; he ensured the disappointment of 2014 was not the start of a slide, but a launchpad for global success.
The new captain is calmer â" at least he tries to be. He is a good motivator and more patient, which works well for the youngsters.Pieter Seelaar brings a calmness with his captaincy
The Netherlands have successfully blooded several young players in recent years. According to Myburgh, who has one List A hundred and 16 fifties to his name from 85 matches, this has changed the complexion of their game.
âWe were a weaker squad [in 2014]. Now weâve got a lot of youngsters coming through,â he said. âWe have a group of 16-18 to pick from, where in the past weâd got only 12. Now with injuries, weâre OK, where in the past, if we had one or two injuries we would struggle.
âBecause weâve got a lot of guys aged 18 to 23, theyâve brought in a lot of energy. Our fielding has also improved quite a bit, and weâre a little quicker. It brought a refreshment around the team.â
So, it was a hap py, positive vibe to the side for the ODIs against Nepal. The hosts won the opener, but, of course, Nepal arenât known as the âcardiac kidsâ for nothing. Defending 216, the newest ODI nation pulled off a last-ball win in the second game as the series finished 1-1.
The Netherlands were slightly disappointed â" going by rankings, they had expected more. They rued the rash shots and the lost chances.
But they also knew that their ODI comeback had become a classic â" they spent an hour with their rivals after the match, chatting and sharing experiences. They knew it held vital lessons for their ODI future in the one-day game.
âWe probably were involved in one of the greatest games of cricket,â laughed Seelaar. âYou talk about the great games, people scoring 300, 400, but â¦ it was one of those games when you could never think it was a done deal.
âNepal fought hard, we fought hard to get where we were in the last over, last two overs. It wa s really exciting but also really disappointing. We set ourselves an objective, but it seems Nepal has a nagging way of fighting well against us and beating us on occasion!
âItâs probably one of the biggest lessons to learn, that you are never truly out of the game until the final ball is bowled or the final run is hit.
âItâs a lesson for the guys coming in, the game of cricket is never over till itâs really over.â
â" Karunya KeshavAdd Fixtures to Calendar