Ryan ten Doeschate is 37. He continues to enjoy a storied career playing in T20 leagues around the world. And he has just led Essex to their first County Championship title in 25 years.
The attraction of playing two 50-over matches against Namibia in Dubai is, perhaps, not immediately obvious. Yet, a few weeks ago, ten Doeschate texted Ryan Campbell, Netherlands' coach, declaring that he was "keen and ready". And so, after almost seven years, ten Doeschate will return to the Dutch team, for their final two World Cricket League Championship matches on December 6 and 8.
"I understand the importance of these two matches for Dutch cricket and I thought the time was right to give it another go," he explains.
A pair of victories will guarantee Netherlands a place in the new 13-team ODI league, beginning in 2020. The matches loom as among the most important in any nation's cricket history, offering a chance to put Netherlands on a new path from which they might never look back. Campbell says that the opportunities provided by inclusion in the new ODI league are "something all Associate countries have dreamt about for a long time".
The cancellation of the Global Twenty20 league in South Africa, which ten Doeschate was slated to play in, means that he is available for Netherlands once again. "It's actually more by chance and my schedule allowing it. I feel like a two-month break has been long enough and I was ready for a new challenge."
Ten Doeschate's return invites the question of why he has not played since the 2011 World Cup, when he hit brilliant centuries against England and Ireland, albeit both in agonising Dutch defeats. The most obvious answer is that his brutal hitting, canny medium pace and vivacious fielding have been perfectly suited to the T20 circuit. As well as for Essex, ten Doeschate has played in T20 leagues in Australia, Bangladesh, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, Zimbabwe, and five years in the IPL for Kolkata Knight Riders. "It's been a privilege to travel to great places and meet new people. I've also played with and against all the best players of this and even the last generation, which isn't something that happens for most cricketers."
But his lack of matches for the Dutch have also been an indictment of Netherlands, and their failure to create a set-up that encouraged their greatest ever player to remain involved. Ten Doeschate even declined to play in the World T20 competitions in 2014 or 2016, when he had no other commitments.
"I had a decent World Cup, didn't enjoy it, and walked away from Dutch cricket. I think that says enough"
"Despite what people think regarding chasing money, my main reason for stopping was that I didn't enjoy the 2011 World Cup. I'm not pointing fingers but that was enough to sway me to invest my time in other things," he explains. "I had a decent World Cup, didn't enjoy it, and walked away from Dutch cricket. I think that says enough."
That ten Doeschate is returning speaks of how the Dutch team set-up has evolved since then. "I hear it is vastly different," he says. The captain, Peter Borren, agrees: "We were an immature and amateur set-up in 2011. There is no comparison between the attitude and commitment of the current national team and that of 2011."
In the years since his last international, he could have represented another nation: his native South Africa. A few months before the 2015 World Cup, he received a phone call from Russell Domingo, then South Africa's coach, who had a Jacques Kallis-shaped hole to fill in the ODI side. "I think it was an exploratory line of approach," ten Doeschate recalls, "but they had better players and I always saw it as a non-starter as I hadn't put my time in in the domestic game in South Africa. I never heard back from him."
Not that he was perturbed. For all that he has been an itinerant cricketer - playing T20 for 13 different sides - ten Doeschate has always remained rooted in Essex, ever since the county spotted him playing for Western Province in a friendly match in 2003. In his 15th summer at the county, ten Doeschate led them to the Championship title, an achievement he discusses typically undemonstratively.
"I think the quality of the journey to get there carries more weight than the achievement, for me personally anyway. For the club it was tremendous, and I enjoyed that satisfaction it brought to all the non-playing people of the club. There are so many factors that go into getting it right."
Now Netherlands will again benefit from the pedigree of a player who averages over 45 in both first-class and List A cricket. In international cricket, his performances have gone from excellent to absurd. Ten Doeschate's eight Intercontinental Cup games for Netherlands brought 1285 runs at 142.77 apiece. His 33 ODIs brought 1541 at 67.00, including five centuries.
Should he play in the World Cup qualifiers, scheduled for March - "Let's see how this tour goes" - he will have the highest average to protect of anyone to have played at least 25 ODIs. When his international recall was announced, the ICC's Twitter account reminded ten Doeschate of the fact, proclaiming him the man with a ODI batting average better than Babar Azam, Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers.
"That makes me laugh. I'm still getting over the embarrassment of all the tweets to me, Babar, AB and Virat." Still, there is worse company.