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March 22, 2007
It ought to have been Dutch cricket's proudest moment on the world stage. Their victory over Namibia in the 2003 World Cup was comprehensive but hardly unexpected; today's trouncing of Scotland, on the other hand - a side that had beaten them in their last three encounters - came as a mild shock to the pundits and players who had tried to read the remnants of their thumping defeats earlier in this competition.
Unfortunately the moment was somewhat overshadowed by the magnanimous gesture of their captain, Luuk van Troost, who stepped down on the morning of the game after a tournament in which he had made scores of 5 and 0, and whose final three deliveries against South Africa had all been carted for six. A natural leader and a likeable man, it was a gesture that left his deputy, Jeroem Smits, downcast in his moment of glory.
"He thought it was best for the team not to play," said Smits. "He was very depressed, he's still depressed and I'm a bit depressed as well. He's a good friend of mine. The decision has been in the air, but he was planning to make this his last tournament, and it's sad he can't finish off in the right way.
"Luuk is very straightforward and honest," added Smits. "He is a very dangerous player, and one of the best Dutch players around. He can destroy any side in the world, but he decided himself it was best for the team not to play today. That shows how much character he has got. He deserves all the credit for this win today, and I'm sure it would have been the same if he had played.
"It was a real important toss to win," said Smits, who hit back at Graeme Smith's suggestion that his team would be underdogs for this match. "I saw some comments yesterday," he added. "I don't think they [South Africa] know what goes on at Associate level. I think we are quite even and on our day we are a good unit. Today we were the better side by far."
Scotland's captain, Craig Wright, couldn't disagree with that sentiment, and admitted he was "embarrassed" by how the day had panned out. "We came into this part of our winter having played a month of really good cricket," he said. "Most of the guys had been looking at this match as a real opportunity to make statements about themselves as players. And unfortunately, nobody has."
Had his team perhaps taken their minds off the job, having played their biggest two games of the tournament against South Africa and Australia? Wright bridled at the suggestion: "It's a World Cup fixture, it's a one-day international, which is something we've only recently got the privilege of playing," he said. "If any of the guys switched off after the last game I'd be very, very surprised. Every game we play for Scotland, every time we pull on the saltire and thistle, it means as much as the other game.
"There were too many soft dismissals," he continued. "We just got out. The guys have proved before against this type of opposition that they are big players, and I can't explain why it's gone so wrong today. We pride ourselves on being a squad, so everyone will be taking a look at themselves and asking some questions. We've shown we're far better than that in the past."
The day was a particular disappointment for the vocal legions of Scottish fans who had made the trip to St Kitts, and continued singing "Flower of Scotland" long after the result was a foregone conclusion. "If I was a rich man I'd be going round the ground handing back the entrance fee," said Wright, "because they deserve far more than we've been able to give them."
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