Ryan Neil ten Doeschate
June 30, 1980, Port Elizabeth, Cape Province
Right hand bat
Right arm medium fast
Ryan ten Doeschate has established himself as one of the finest cricketers ever produced by an Associate nation - not to mention a captain of the highest standing during his time in the county game with Essex. Most notable in a long-standing international career were two centuries at the 2011 World Cup, including an exhilarating 119 that almost stunned England. Reflecting his dominance, he won the ICC Associate and Affiliate Player of the Year Award three times between 2008 and 2011. Ten Doeschate also played five years for Kolkata Knight Riders in the IPL - the first Associate player to gain such a contract.
Born in South Africa, ten Doeschate cited Jonty Rhodes as his hero, and initially pursued a career with Western Province. He is of Dutch descent, though, enabling him to represent Netherlands and qualify under the EU law to play county cricket. With his huge hitting, skiddy bowling and big smile, he soon became a cult figure at Essex, where he has played for nearly two decades and twice captained the team to the Championship title.
The rise in Twenty20 leagues around the world came at a particularly good time for ten Doeschate. His combination of belligerent hitting, particularly to the leg side, and canny medium-pace earned lucrative contracts not only in the IPL but also in Australia, Bangladesh, New Zealand, South Africa and Zimbabwe. But after the 2011 World Cup, ten Doeschate was largely unavailable for Netherlands selection. He made a comeback in 2017 and two years later helped the Dutch qualify for the 2020 T20 World Cup.
A hard-hitting allrounder, ten Doeschate's bowling was initially seen to be his stronger suit - he batted at No. 10 on first-class debut - but he has built an impressive first-class record, averaging in the mid-40s with the bat. He passed 1000 first-class runs in a season for the first time in 2016, and bowled only occasionally as captaincy took his focus. For several years, his versatility and commitment made him a regular globetrotter. There were few players more immediately suited to the advent of the shorter form of the game and he invited the question of how many more T20 stars exist beyond the main Test nations.
Essex spotted ten Doeschate playing for Western Province on a tour of South Africa in 2003. For a time, Graham Gooch was his regular airport runner so he could play club cricket in Holland at a weekend. The following season, the second season of T20 in England, he signed full professional forms and gradually proved himself one of the finest Essex players of his era.
Success was frustratingly evasive during his early career, and he was a veteran of the side when he was appointed captain in succession to James Foster in 2016. Alongside a new coach, Chris Silverwood, he immediately led Essex back into Division One of the Championship, leading by example by averaging 64 with the bat with four hundreds and suitably scoring the runs that won promotion.
More was to come. At 37, Essex finally brought fulfilment as he led them to their first Championship for 25 years - and first-ever, incidentally, without his old chauffeur, Gooch. Ten Doeschate suggested Essex had killed the "myth" that there was a huge gap between Divisions One and Two and remarked that "people make too much of a deal about cricket captaincy". But alongside the coaching pair of Silverwood and Anthony McGrath he built a culture at Essex that landed a punch for the smaller, non-Test counties. By then he could call himself "Essex through and through" and not hear a murmur of dissent.
Essex failed to defend their title, but came back strongly in 2019. A second Championship in three years was rich reward for ten Doeschate, and this time it was coupled with T20 Blast success, too. Reason enough for him to sign a new contract that would see him playing at Essex into his 40s.
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