'Important to have a Netherlands-based captain' - coach Campbell
Pieter Seelaar's appointment as Netherlands captain to replace the outgoing Peter Borren was motivated by a continued desire amongst the Royal Dutch Cricket Association (KNCB) to have a locally-based player who trains with the bulk of the squad year-round, according to Netherlands head coach Ryan Campbell.
"We have players like Ryan ten Doeschate and Roelof van der Merwe who could fill the captaincy as well, but we feel it's very important that a Dutch-bound player leads our Dutch team," Campbell told ESPNcricinfo. "That's no disrespect to our international players because we love them all and they're massive leaders within our squad, but the feeling has always been that we want a guy who lives in the Netherlands to lead our team, who is always training with our squad, and Pieter fits the bill perfectly.
"The facts are our [English] county players don't play in all of our matches and they don't train with our squad. We have a summer training squad of 22 and to have one without a captain is a recipe for disaster. We've always felt you need a captain and a leader who is training and playing with the lads. I'm very excited to see what Pieter's going to bring to the table, because he's a different character to Peter Borren. He thinks about the game a lot and his plans have already started."
Seelaar's career stats, 111 wickets in 120 List A matches plus 33 wickets in 59 T20s, are modest for a bowling allrounder, but the 30-year-old is one of the longest tenured Dutch players after making his senior debut against Warwickshire in 2005. His career List A batting average is 14.64, but it is a deceptive figure slanted heavily by his early career as a tailender. In 2015, he was one of the leading scorers in the Dutch domestic first division playing for VOC and notched a List A career-best 68 against Scotland in the second round of the WCL Championship later that summer.
In 2017, Seelaar further cemented his batting credentials with an unbeaten 138 in an epic stand with Ben Cooper during their drawn Intercontinental Cup match against Hong Kong. Add in the fact that Seelaar is arguably the top Netherlands outfielder - he has a reputation for taking some sensational catches including one to dismiss Kevin O'Brien at the 2016 World T20 - and Campbell felt the decision was a no-brainer.
"He's the perfect age and experience, he's been in the national set-up for a long time now and knows what goes around international cricket," Campbell said. "We believe that his game will improve and we've seen that with his bowling particularly. In the last 12 months, apart from an injury, he's been a standout for us with the ball and his batting is an untapped resource. He knows that he needs to keep improving but we feel that the character of Pieter Seelaar is the best fit for us with a young squad."
Seelaar will be leading a Netherlands A squad this weekend in Guernsey before taking command of the full senior side for a T20I tri-series with Ireland and Scotland in June.
As for Borren's retirement at age 34, Campbell said it should not be seen as the first domino to fall in a move toward making more changes within the squad - he doesn't want "players looking over their shoulder". However, he said that competition for spots may be ramped up following the team's poor performance at the World Cup Qualifier in Zimbabwe. With two years until the next World T20 in Australia and the start of the 13-team ODI League, Campbell wants to take as many opportunities possible to give younger players a chance to develop.
"We play that ODI League in 2020 and that's another couple years down the track. That's a long time for guys who are suddenly 36 or 37. It [Borren's stepping down] was decided mutually," Campbell said. "He felt that he didn't have the energy to be there in two or three years' time. If that was the case, then when we're not playing in major tournaments, we need to get our youngsters as much experience as we can because the facts are we don't play enough cricket. The Bas de Leedes and Sikandar Zulfiqars, these sort of guys need to play cricket and that was the decision from all sides."
Campbell paid tribute to Borren, saying he'd made a great friend for life in him. "He beat the drums for the Associate cause. The Associate world is a tough world to live in. Just seeing his stats, the number of games he played over such a long period, some people who don't realise will say, 'Gee he didn't play that many games'. But that's how tough it is. You'll play a decade and only play 40 ODIs or 40 T20Is. It's a tough world but he's a ripping bloke and a fantastic competitor and I wish him all the best."
Peter Della Penna is ESPNcricinfo's USA correspondent @PeterDellaPenna