Peter Borren, the Netherlands captain, has said his team now has the belief they can become the best of the Associates and will surprise opposition with their improvement, at the World Twenty20 qualifier in the UAE. Borren said Netherlands' aim for the tournament was not just to qualify for the World T20 in Sri Lanka in September but to actually win the qualifier.
"I believe we now have a side capable of becoming the best of the rest," Borren said. "In the past, maybe we didn't quite have that belief but this is a new team and I think other sides will be surprised to see our improvement.
"Our results over the last year in all competitions have been encouraging, particularly our season in the Clydesdale Bank 40 [England's domestic 40-over competition] where we won five matches. We have learned how to win games.
"We have a varied and disciplined attack with plenty of options available. We have a dangerous batting line-up which is nicely balanced between guys who have the ability to rotate the strike effectively and guys who can find the boundary."
Netherlands are looking for a return to the World T20 after failing to make it to the 2010 edition. They competed for the first time in the 2009 tournament in England, and caused the surprise of the tournament by beating the hosts. Their quest to qualify for the 2011 event is hampered by the absence of Ryan ten Doeschate, who has won the ICC Associate player of the year award three times in the last four years, and scored 214 runs at 42.80 for Netherlands in T20s. ten Doeschate will remain in South Africa playing for Impi in the MiWAY T20 Challenge.
"Any team in world cricket would love to have a player of Ryan's class in its side. So, he will naturally be missed," Borren admitted. "Given his commitments around the world, we are very used to playing without him. If you look at our top five batsmen there should be enough runs there to cover in Ryan's absence."
The chief threat to Borren's side in group A of the T20 qualifiers will be Afghanistan - ranked two places below them in the ICC ODI rankings. Netherlands also find Canada, Papua New Guinea, Hong Kong, Bermuda, Denmark and Nepal in their path to the knockout stage of the 16-team competition.
"We have played reasonably regularly over the years against Afghanistan, Canada and Denmark and used to play a bit against Bermuda," Borren said. "We have a good record against these four sides. I am confident that we have the game to beat them.
"As for PNG, Hong Kong and Nepal, we do not know so much about them. We are going to have to do some early scouting at the tournament and learn how they play. I know that PNG has improved an awful lot and has some very dangerous players."
Netherlands will prepare for the tournament with a week in Cape Town and get their campaign underway on March 13 against Canada in Dubai.
Edited by Alex Winter