Netherlands December 13, 2006

Domestic changes in the Netherlands

he 2007 season will be one of Netherlands' busiest with international fixtures against Canada, Ireland and Scotland as well as the World Cup in March.

he 2007 season will be one of Netherlands' busiest with international fixtures against Canada, Ireland and Scotland as well as the World Cup in March.

In the light of this, the country's domestic competition has been revamped, although changes have fallen short of what some had been hoping for.

There had been those who had asked for as much as six weeks' breaks during international competitions when national players will be absent, but when that was done during the ICC Trophy in 2005 it proved unpopular.

The main change to the Hoofdklasse is that the title will, for the first time, be decided by play-offs between the top four rather than a straight league, and it is hoped this will reduce the impact of top players missing some rounds of the competition.

The other main change is that rain-affected matches will use the Duckworth/Lewis system which applies in almost every major domestic league across the world. As a result, the minimum number of overs which need to be completed for a game to be finished reduces from 35 to 20. Rescheduling abandoned matches has been an issue and this will no longer be necessary - any games which do not manage to be completed will be left out of the points calculations..

Further changes in this direction, such as the use of white balls and black sightscreens, are still under discussion but no decision has been made yet. There are also serious discussions about abandoning the use of coconut matting, with the board advocating the acceptance of astroturf pitches where grass is not available.

For the first time there will also be a Twenty20 competition, following successful regional experiments. The tournament, which will be staged in August, will feature the winners of the regional events.

Martin Williamson is executive editor of ESPNcricinfo and managing editor of ESPN Digital Media in Europe, the Middle East and Africa

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