ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / Features

World Cup 2011 review - Netherlands

Promising but patchy

The promise the Dutch showed in their opening match against England is a distant memory as they exited the tournament with not a single win to their name

Firdose Moonda

March 22, 2011

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Ryan ten Doeschate reached a brilliant hundred with five overthrows, England v Netherlands, Group B, World Cup, Nagpur, February 22, 2011
Ryan ten Doeschate's knock of 119 off 110 balls against England had all the makings of greatness © Getty Images
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Players/Officials: Ryan ten Doeschate
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Teams: Netherlands

World Cup performance

The promise the Dutch showed in their opening match against England is a distant memory as they exited the tournament with not a single win to their name. They were drawn in the group with the tougher selection of smaller teams, Ireland and Bangladesh, which meant that even against the so-called minnows they would have to perform close to their best to have a shot at beating them.

Their batting was talked up as their strength and on the Nagpur pitch, which was packed with runs, it showed. On surfaces that offered a little more for the bowlers, like in Delhi and Mohali, they struggled to cope against pace, uneven bounce, reverse swing and turn. Their opening partnership had a highest score of 56, against India, a result of moving Worcestershire's Alexei Kervezee into the middle order and using Eric Szwarczynski to open with Wesley Barresi. It was a move that was meant to improve both the top and the middle, but didn't succeed in doing either.

The bowling improved as the tournament went on, with seamer Mudassar Bukhari becoming more economical, even though he was not more penetrative. Pieter Seelaar and Ryan ten Doeschate were the two stand-out slower bowlers, and though it was difficult to rely on them to contain an entire innings, they played their part - mostly in the middle overs - with distinction.

Netherlands' commitment cannot be questioned and their desire, not just to be competitive, but to win, was evident. That was not enough to prevent them looking out of their depth at times though, and despite challenging some of the big teams for a period, they were unable to do so consistently.

High

Ryan ten Doeschate's century against England was the strongest statement the Associates made in the first week of the tournament. It was an innings that had all the makings of greatness - ten Doeschate began in sagely fashion, taking time to read the pitch, before cutting loose with a variety of shots. He treated James Anderson and Tim Bresnan with disdain, showing how lethal a combination of talent and a few years on the county circuit can make a player.

Low

Being bowled out for 115 against West Indies in their second match saw the Dutch crash down to earth in the rudest of fashions. They lost their first five wickets for 36, unable to cope with the turn Suliemen Benn was getting. Their last four wickets fell for just 2 runs, and included the tournament's first hat-trick, as Kemar Roach's pace tore through the lower order.

Strength

A good mix of experience, in the form of World Cup veteran Bas Zuiderent and captain Peter Borren, and youth - think Kervezee and Seelaar - meant the squad was well balanced and has a platform to build on. ten Doeschate was the rock on which the Dutch batting was founded and though there was a touch of over-reliance at times, the confidence they took from having him as the focal point of their line-up was a massive positive. Seelaar was a revelation in the tournament, and ended as the side's highest-wicket-taker, with eight scalps. Of the bowlers who played more than two matches, he was also their most economical.

Weakness

Lack of consistency and the inability to build on starts is what set Netherlands back the most. In the four matches where they were exposed badly - against West Indies, South Africa, India and Bangladesh - they had just two half-century partnerships. The bowling had similar problems, not being able to push on once they had made a dent. They had South Africa 58 for 2 in the 16th over, but let them get to 351. They had India 99 for 4 in the 15th over, but failed to exert much pressure from there on.

Prospects

Without a move towards more professionalism it's hard to see how Netherlands can improve in the areas that matter. Only two of the current squad, ten Doeschate and Kervezee play county cricket. If more players can get into the English's set-up, it would allow them to get more accustomed to playing on turf pitches, as there are only four in Holland. Their inclusion in the CB40 should keep their hand in the one-day format, but most players interviewed during the tournament said the 20-over game may be the way to go in future. It will attract both players and crowds, and ensure that the sport gets exposure in a country where it is still regarded as very foreign.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

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