As You Bid Adieu To 2023, Don’t Forget How Strong The Netherlands Were

The Netherlands

2023 was a year in international men’s cricket where as per normal, Virat Kohli performed staggeringly well in the king of the cricketing battles: the 2023 One Day World Cup. It was a year where Bumrah made a comeback, KL Rahul and Shreyas Iyer scored oodles of runs in their maiden World Cup edition.

It was also a year where the BlackCaps, true to their usual unflustered ways made it to yet another semi-final of the one day World Cup. And yet another year where the Proteas fire entertained one and all thanks to the exploits of their quintuplet: Jansen, Markram, Klaasen, Coetzee and Markram in the World Cup only to throw it all away in the all-important semis.

Then there was a certain Travis Head who mustered enough strength to single-handedly destroy his big opponents: the hosts, India and that too, in the 2023 ODI World Cup final.

Pakistan too made headways in the very mother of all cricketing battles by registering an incredible run-chase against Sri Lanka; a contest where they smashed 345 runs in the second innings thanks to a special Mohd. Rizwan effort.

But none of 2023’s elite tales about the limited-overs format would be rendered complete without throwing light on just how incredible was The Netherlands cricket team.

Not only did the Netherlands cricket team make history by first qualifying for the 2023 one day World Cup, it made further inroads toward progress by beating the well-established South African team in the very tournament.

In what was an incredible game number 15 of the 48 games that were played in the widely-watched and unmistakably thrilling one day World Cup in India, The Netherlands scored a competitive 245 for the loss of 8 wickets batting first at Dharamshala only to restrict the Proteas for 207 later.

A 38-run victory with top honours belonging to Logan van Beek (3-for) and Roelf van der Merwe (2-for) with captain Scott Edwards scoring a valiant unbeaten fifty much earlier, the HPCA-held contest went Dutch.

The Proteas might have played that game but the fire belonged to The Netherlands.

To those who’ve often doubted the capability of this European team at such top echelons of the men’s game, the ICC ODI World Cup qualifiers served an avid reminder as to what the Dutch could achieve in cricket and did, as a matter of fact, achieve.

How often had one seen someone smash 30 overs in a super-over contest? Furthermore, how often had one seen such a feat being attained courtesy the whirring blade of a bowler who was, if anything, at best, a part-time batsman?

How often, it ought to be asked, had one seen a team with mighty hitters like the West Indies being held at ransom by a team that hardly played World Cup contests, a familiar one coming way back in time in the 2007th edition of the famed ICC event?

But as Logan van Beek hammered Jason Holder, a prominent all-rounder of the game, in scoring 30 runs by way of just boundaries and sixes, the Netherlands delighted not just home fans, but the Dutch diaspora anywhere it was outside of the country while rattling the Caribbean fans’ hearts.

Who saw it coming?

Certainly the game’s experts didn’t. Not the West Indies, who saw Nicholas Pooran firing away a massively vital hundred. And maybe not even the Dutch.

Not that there weren’t some huge setbacks for the Dutch in the form of the tenacious Bas de Leede conceding over 100 runs in a 10-over spell in the 2023 ODI World Cup, but the Dutch soldiered on.

They attained a World Cup entry which is when teams like the Windies and Zimbabwe, far more prominent names in the sport, failed to do so.

In Scott Edwards, they have found a resilient and forward-looking captain. Then there are established names like Roelf van der Merwe, who’s aging like fine wine. The spinner’s ability to put on a good whack back from down the order in addition to his brilliant wicket taking abilities as a frontline bowler keeps the attack in good shape.

It tends to add a sense of balance to a fast-bowling-skewed attack that has the brilliant troika of Van Beek, Ryan Klein and Bas de Leede.

In Bas de Leede, someone who’s approaching 1,000 one day international runs, the Netherlands have a cricketer who is about as promising as a young Jack Kallis. The comparison might be heavier than the size of the Rock of Gibraltar but the quintessential Dutch resilience just comes across unabashedly, isn’t it?

Interestingly, the Netherlands, who gave the West Indies a strong fight in every single game of the 3-match ODI series held back in 2022, rest big on the abilities of his smashing opening duo: Vikramjit Singh and Max O’Dowd.

The fearless left-handed and right-handed duo have lent a sense of assurance to a batting order where everyone chips in, including Teja Nidamanuru, perhaps one of the game’s most utility lower-order batters whose ability is no less than a Pat Cummins or Akeal Hosein’s, truth be told.

Going forward, The Netherlands would want to continue to play to their strengths and play as they usually do; opting for a sense of intelligence and application in moments of duress, such as that high-octane super over WCQ 2023 game against the Windies.

When they play as one, the match is won; something the Scott Edwards-powered team would like to continue with in 2024 and beyond.

The Netherlands

The Netherlands were resilient in 2023


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