South Africa news June 30, 2015

Van der Merwe switches to Netherlands

Roelof van der Merwe is targeting the 2016 World T20 with the Netherlands team now © BCCI

Roelof van der Merwe, who last tasted international cricket five years ago, is attempting to resurrect his career - but not with South Africa. The allrounder secured a Dutch passport on Monday and made himself available for Netherlands immediately. He was included in their squad to play against Nepal for a T20I the day after confirming his documentation but was not named in the starting XI on Tuesday.

Van der Merwe could play a part in the World T20 Qualifiers in July and, should Netherlands make it through, in the tournament itself, which he has said is his ultimate aim. 

His new passport also means he can play county cricket as a local player, because of the European Union connection, and that he will end his career in South Africa. Van der Merwe spent nine seasons with the Titans franchise and was an integral part of their set-up, but decided to move on in the hopes of playing at the highest level again and prolonging his career. 

"It has been a privilege and an amazing journey to be part of the Titans family for the past eight years. My cricket journey will continue, but I have decided on a different path that could be beneficial to my long-term career and family life," van der Merwe said in a statement issued by Titans.

"His indomitable spirit and defiance has endeared Roelof to the Titans fans and to a wider South African audience," Titans coach Rob Walter said. "He had a never-say-die-attitude and was extremely motivated to make a difference and to win matches."

Those qualities did not put van der Merwe was on the South African selectors' radar recently but earned him a call-up at the turn of the decade. He played 13 ODIs and the same number of T20Is between 2009 and 2010 and was part of the 2010 World T20 squad. 

In the seasons that followed, van der Merwe made key contributions for Titans. He bowled them to the one-day cup final in the 2013-14 season, with 15 wickets in a 12-match campaign and was their leading run-scorer in last summer's first-class competition with 774 runs at an average of 55.28. 

He remained part of South African A squads and often seemed on the fringes of a comeback, especially as South Africa searched for an allrounder, but was not reselected. Van der Merwe made use of his Dutch ancestry to open doors to play for Netherlands. He is not the first South African to go Dutch. Ryan ten Doeschate and Stephen Myburgh are among the other South Africans who have played for Netherlands.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

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