Netherlands news March 17, 2014

Controversy over Cooper replacing Gruijters for Netherlands

ESPNcricinfo staff

The full video statement released by Timothy Gruijters

Controversy has broken out over Tom Cooper's induction into the Netherlands World T20 squad as a replacement for the injured Tim Gruijters. In a video statement issued on Sunday night, Gruijters claimed that he was not injured and alleged that the team's coaching staff "basically cheated" to bring Cooper into the squad in his place.

Ed Van Nierop, the Netherlands manager, responded by saying Gruijters was speaking out of disappointment at missing out on a world tournament and was "under pressure" from his family after returning home.

The issue broke out hours before Netherlands started their World T20 campaign against UAE - a match they won by six wickets with Cooper playing a key role - and the Netherlands board later issued a statement saying it will be investigating the matter. The ICC later said the correct process had been followed and that the matter was closed.

"The KNCB followed that procedure by obtaining independent medical advice confirming an injury to Tim Gruitjers before requesting a replacement player," the ICC statement said. "We are satisfied that the KNCB acted within the ICC's tournament rules during this process."

Gruijters left for Netherlands on March 15 and Cooper joined the squad early on March 16. Cooper plays for South Australia, which narrowly missed out on making the Sheffield Shield final after the last stage of round-robin games ended on March 14, thereby making Cooper available for Netherlands duty.

Gruijters had made his allegations through a filmed statement, posted on YouTube. "I would have played in the Dutch cricket team had it not been for the fact that the Dutch coaching staff decided to bend the rules, act against the spirit of cricket and basically cheat," he said. "Let me give you the facts.

"Fact number one: on Thursday the 13th of March, Tom Cooper became unexpectedly available for the Dutch team after narrowly missing out on the Sheffield Shield final. Tom Cooper is probably the best batsman eligible to play for the Netherlands.

"Fact two: on the same day some teammates and I had talked about Tom's availability. We all agreed that no one was injured so it would be impossible for Tom Cooper to play.

"Fact three: the next morning, the 14th of March, the coaching staff called me to their room. They told me that I would be in the first XI had Tom Cooper not been available. 'We need someone to be injured,' they said. 'We need you to have a scan so that we can get the ICC's approval.'

"Fact four: I was forced and bullied into having a scan. The scan showed I have a bad back. No surprise there. I have had a bad back for years, just like others have had bad shoulders and bad knees. Like all sportsmen, I have learned to deal with the limitations and the pain. In fact, my back is better than it has been in a while. I think I am in the best form possible for this tournament."

In response, Nierop said Gruijters' fitness was being tracked from the start of the month, and that there had been issues with his back for some time. "There were doubts about his mobility from early March," Nierop said. "I was present at the MRI scan and even the medical staff said that he was in really bad pain. There were clear, visible issues in his lower back. And we will be playing three matches in five days.

"Our new High Performance Manager, Roland Lefebvre, said this boy cannot move and we should monitor it. He has been monitored ever since we set foot on Emirates soil [earlier this month for training]. The medical staff said we should have him tested. The MRI at Chittagong Hospital was done by independent doctors and we went by their advice. We have followed all due procedures."

Nierop said Gruijters' scan and Cooper's concurrent availability were only coincidental. "You have to understand that in Netherlands cricket, we cannot pick 15 super players off the shelf for an event like this. We have a very limited number of players. We could not have replaced him as simply as that. It is just that his injury replacement coincided with the availability of Tom Cooper."

When asked whether there would be any action taken against Gruijters for his outburst, Nierop said he would leave that to the Netherlands cricket board to decide. The board admitted it had two different versions of the incident and so would be investigating it.

"The account of Tim Gruijters himself regarding the course of events differs from the account of the team management in Bangladesh. Those present there are coach Anton Roux, KNCB technical director Roland Lefebvre, physiotherapist Jan Stappenbelt and team manager Ed van Nierop," it said in a statement. "The KNCB board has as a result of the current controversy initiated an investigation and shall take evidence from all the relevant parties in order to gain understanding of the course of events."

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Vijay P on March 18, 2014, 10:20 GMT

    @Green_and_Gold, Good point, I too was thinking along the same lines. I don't understand why they won't let them replaced. Is it because the incoming players would be fresher? Is it because of some logistical challenges?...

  • Kenso on March 18, 2014, 5:33 GMT

    Sounds dodgy. If this was a top 4 team it would be bigger news. The reality is the minnows need to be as strong as possible to justify their existence so im sure the ICC were happy to see Coopers name pop up as available. The fact he wanted to play a state final rather than represent his 'country' should tell you all you need to know.

  • Sangeeth on March 18, 2014, 4:42 GMT

    Ten Doeschate not playing for Dutch is obviously the biggest loss.But now it can be understood why he chooses not to play for Dutch. And playing for Domestic teams across the world is far better than playing for this country under such a poor management. Atleast he will earn a lot now...

  • Dummy4 on March 18, 2014, 1:18 GMT

    It would be totally illogical of him to be lying about being forced home. Likely he will never play again and would have otherwise, so he did it as it was true. On the face of it, and delving deeper, I believe the player sent home. Being disappointed, does not explain the angle and ferocity of his revelations. I hope the Dutch miss the main tournament, but disappointingly, their cheated-in player Cooper helped them win their first match versus the UAE. Just not cricket really is it? If you end up on NZ's side of the draw, I should warn you, we ruin cheats... and reserve a special sort of intensity for them. Good luck.

  • Baundule on March 17, 2014, 20:28 GMT

    I do not understand what Netherlands will gain from this cheating. It is unlikely that they can proceed to the super 10 stage. Then for the sake of Dutch cricket they should have given Gruijters a chance to play, instead of bringing Cooper. They have lost the ODI status in last month, and players like Doeschate are reluctant to play for them. The Board needs intelligent managers, not the cunning ones.

  • Dummy on March 17, 2014, 16:13 GMT

    I wish Ten doeschate and Nannies also come back .It is hard luck for Tim also maybe unethical but if you are abke to play the best player then why not .I am especially furious at RN Tendoeschate about not playing for Netherlands in competitive tournaments. He can go play for leagues and domestic cricket any time of the year. Srsly no domestic cricket can match a world tournament whether u are playing for Netherlands or Aus. Its sad to not see him on international stage. The best player to have never played test cricket in my opinion .Also he won't get a chance in IPL despite being in a team. It's just sad.

  • Mark on March 17, 2014, 14:11 GMT

    Replacing a player born in The Netherlands with a superior player who was born in Australia but legitimately qualified to play for The Netherlands? It's sharp practice, but understandable. The star of the famous Dutch victory at Lords in 2009 is a close parallel with Cooper (and suddenly found himself, very briefly, playing for Australia less than 3 months later, on the back of his success - 1 ODI and 15 T20s ). A check of most of the Associate sides will find a remarkable collection of curious qualifications (with Ireland being one of the worst offenders in the past).

    It's the reality of the modern game and people have just got to get used to it. Outside Asia, everyone does it.

    What is obvious is that Gruijters is not going to play for The Netherlands again in a hurry, which is a pity, because Associates such as The Netherlands need to have home-grown players to spread the game

  • Dave on March 17, 2014, 13:51 GMT

    @izzidole - his mother is Dutch. Probably best to check rather than speculate.

  • Tom on March 17, 2014, 13:44 GMT

    @izzidole: If you click a players name on espncricinfo, you can read their bio, which clearly states his mum is Dutch.

    Never mind, it gave you a good chance to air that massive chip on your shoulder.

  • Justin on March 17, 2014, 13:05 GMT

    I would like to know why squads cannot change - the competition is all about the best playing the best, so why prevent a player being allowed to play if they suddenly become available mid way through the competition. It will stop cases like this going on. Aus has a similar issue where Hussey was not fit before a tournament but came back due to another injury (although i dont think anyone questioned the circumstances). Mitch Johnson is out with a toe infection - why cant he be selected mid way through the series should he recover enough.

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