Dutch courage begins to pay off
It's difficult to keep the Dutch down. From the dizzying heights of winning the ICC Trophy in 2001 to a slump that almost saw them lose out on qualification for the World Cup, the Netherlands are now very much on the up and up again.
The ICC Trophy 2005 in Ireland was a turning point for Netherlands cricket. It was fortunate that the number of qualifying places for the World Cup had been increased from three to five as the Dutch just managed to sneak in by beating the United Arab Emirates in the fifth-sixth place play-off.
Since then, though, the Netherlands has used that scare as a wake-up call and it really appears to have turned a corner. Selectors had the courage to give youth a chance and it now has the look of a well-balanced side, full of ability and application.
One of the stars of Dutch cricket in the past year or so has been Ryan ten Doeschate. In the ICC Intercontinental Cup 2006 he scored a total of 686 runs in five matches, at an astonishing average of 228.66, giving a real solidity to the Dutch batting line-up.
But now the focus has shifted away from the four-day ICC Intercontinental Cup to the different challenge of the shorter form of the game and ten Doeschate is confident that the Netherlands will acquit themselves well at the World Cricket League Division 1 in Nairobi.
"We have been working very hard to get the formula right," said ten Doeschate (26). "We were on a recent tour to Pretoria and we devised a formula for one-day cricket that we think is going to work for us," he said.
Without giving too much of the game-plan away, he said that the bowlers had been working on tying down batsmen rather than always going on the attack. And the batsmen have been working out how to build partnerships effectively. "I think we learned a lot from the ICC Trophy. Ireland and Scotland had obviously moved ahead and we had started to stagnate a little bit. Now I think we are back on track and we have been putting in some strong performances," he added. "We certainly want to get to the final of the World Cricket League (and so qualify for the inaugural Twenty20 World Championships in South Africa in September). That may sound optimistic because the favourites will probably be Kenya, Scotland and Ireland for the two final spots, but we think we have what it takes to get there."
Ten Doeschate can rely on team-mates Bas Zuiderent, Tim de Leede and Daan van Bunge for support along the way while 17-year-old Alex Kervezee, who has signed for Worcestershire, looks to be a genuine prospect. Mark Jonkman, Edgar Schiferli and Mohammed Kashif are also going to be names to watch out for.
James Fitzgerald is ICC Communications Officer