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Cricket is a simple game

New Zealand made cricket look the simple game it is today when they bowled accurately, fielded sharply and batted sensibly to beat the Netherlands by eight wickets at Hagley Park on the eighth day of the CricInfo Women's World Cup.

The Netherlands did have a couple of moments to savour, an important one being winning the toss. That they chose to bat clearly frustrated the New Zealand captain, Emily Drumm, looking for time in the middle for her batsmen in preparation for tougher challenges ahead.

Another couple of moments to savour for the Netherlands came towards the end as they removed New Zealand's two biggest names, Drumm and Debbie Hockley. But in between it was all the home team.

The Netherlands had to go into the game not only without the three leading batsmen who are struggling with injury, they also were without their most effective bowler from the previous match against South Africa, Cheraldine Oudolf, another to join the injury list.

Restricted before they started, the Netherlands were strangled by tight pace bowling from Katrina Keenan and Kathryn Ramel initially with the subsequent spin of Catherine Campbell and Erin McDonald so miserly that the Netherlands needed 99 minutes and almost 32 overs to bring up their 50. They had only lost three wickets but, the moment they tried to accelerate, the innings turned to mush.

Helen Watson was the main beneficiary, collecting three wickets with her right arm medium pace, two from return catches. However, while Campbell may not have taken a wicket, she returned an astonishing bowling effort, conceding just three runs from her 10 overs.

Campbell's performance earned her the CricInfo Player of the Match award and it reflected the defensive nature of the New Zealand tactics. A ring field gave nothing away to the Netherlands, the pressure of trying to find gaps where there were none proving beyond the underdogs. Their last seven wickets fell for just 13 runs as they failed by two overs to bat out the 50.

The 81-run target was never going to be a major problem for the White Ferns but they had clearly learned from the South African stumble on the way to a similarly small target against the Netherlands. They hit the loose balls hard - and unfortunately for the bowlers there were more than they would have liked. They took the quick singles effectively (with the exception of Hockley, run out by some smart work by wicketkeeper Rowan Milburn) and they kept the run rate at such a level that the target was reached seven minutes short of the hour in the 16th over.

Paula Flannery, 36 not out, and Emily Drumm, 20 in 18 minutes before Caroline Salomons made her the fourth caught-and-bowled victim of the match, were the main contributors.

For the Netherlands, their coach, Greg Curtain, would have liked to have seen another catch taken, Nicola Payne surviving yet another caught-and-bowled chance with the end in sight. It would have been reward for their commitment to defending the small target.

However, for one member of his team, it was a bittersweet day. From behind the stumps, Milburn brought off a brilliant piece of fielding, racing around to pick up a ball played away to the off on the edge of the block and scoring a direct hit at the bowler's end to catch Hockley short of her ground when the former New Zealand captain had looked to be about to collar the bowling.

It was a special moment for Milburn, the former Otago keeper on the verge of selection for the team she played against today until "I failed to put the performances together when it counted."

Of the Hockley run out she said it was particularly satisfying because it was such a big wicket.

She said she probably had some advantage because she knew many of the New Zealand players "but it was still strange to be out there." She was coaching the Netherlands under 21 team when, haviung met the residential requirements, she was asked if she would join the Dutch team.

"I'm having a great time and they've accepted me - or seem to have. My aim is to try to my best for Holland."

Certainly her keeping skills, standing up to all the Netherlands bowlers, and her batting contribution today, 20 from 99 balls against the tight New Zealand attack, suggest that the Netherlands did well out of the deal.

New Zealand now go on to a much tougher assignment, against India on Saturday while the Netherlands begin their test matches of this tournament, the first one against Sri Lanka on Sunday.

The result: The Netherlands 80; New Zealand 81 for two; a win to New Zealand by eight wickets.

  • Cricket is a simple game

    New Zealand made cricket look the simple game it is today when they bowled accurately, fielded sharply and batted sensibly to beat the Netherlands by eight wickets at Hagley Park on the eighth day of the CricInfo Women's World Cup