March 8, 2011

World Cup 2011

Ryan's Dutch disease

Sharda Ugra

Cricket's 'flagship' event, especially when it's got the Associates enjoying the spotlights, throws up a mix of nationalities, cultures, religions, languages and accents in a wondrous we-are-the-world kind of way.

So when the Dutch turned up, it was time for cricket to feel slightly European and think not just of the Oranje but all that they represent - Vincent van Gogh, Ajax Amsterdam and, in some part of his sport's insular world, Ryan ten Doeschate,

In massive demand wherever he goes at this Cup, ten Doeschate, the only Associate who will turn up at the IPL next month (which corporate klutz missed out putting Kevin O'Brien in that auction?!), was paraded out along with his captain Peter Borren for the 25-TV camera-strong media scrum at the Ferozshah Kotla on the eve of the game against India.

ten Doeschate was quick to say he had said not exchanged notes with Gautam Gambhir, him of India and Kolkata Knight Riders, before the cultural question arrived. Could he speak in Dutch, he was asked by a TV reporter? "Yes", ten Doeschate responded instantly. Yippee. So for our viewers, could you just tell us what your ambitions and inspirations are when you play in this World Cup? In an even shorter instant, ten Doeschate replied, "No".

It may have sounded rude or offensive, especially as it had followed ten Doeschate's confident assertion of being a Dutch speaker. The truth is that Netherlands' star bat is the son of Dutch parents, who spent most of his young life in South Africa and now lives in England. As one of only three professionals in the Dutch team, he has spent by his own calculation no more than five days in the Netherlands over the last five years. When he must speak to the men with whom he shares a team, the language he uses is English.

There's a good chance that ten Doeschate's Dutch is restricted to greetings, customer care call centres and directions to a rest room.

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Sharda Ugra is senior editor at ESPNcricinfo

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