Netherlands are no strangers to global events and continue to compete strongly at Associate level despite the difficulties of trying to promote the game. They haven't needed to travel far for this tournament and are hoping that they can bring some colourful support with them.
If everything runs as expected they won't survive beyond the early days of the tournament, but they have the honour of playing the opening match against the hosts and they are quietly confident of making their presence felt. An England-Netherlands match has brought back memories of 1989 when an England XI were beaten by three runs at Amstelveen, a game where current captain Jeroen Smits was 12th man with Nasser Hussain and Alec Stewart lining up for England.
All eyes will be on their two leading players, Dirk Nannes and Ryan ten Doeschate, and in Twenty20 cricket they have the ability to cause real problems. Nannes was outstanding during the IPL, while ten Doeschate is a consistent performer for Essex. If Netherlands can return home having caused one of the two big sides to sweat a little it will have been a successful tournament.
They can go out with a no-fear, nothing-to-lose approach and play with a spirit of enjoyment and excitement. If they get hammered by England and Pakistan it's what is expected, but both those teams will have to remember to show some respect otherwise Netherlands could make life uncomfortable.
Their lack of depth could easily be exposed if the big two don't fire and they also lack quality spin which can be so vital in Twenty20. The one genuine slow-bowler they have is Daan van Bunge, the legspinner, who was taken for 36 in an over by Herschelle Gibbs during the 2007 World Cup in West Indies. If the first couple of balls in an over clear the boundary, he might start getting twitchy.
While everyone is talking about Nannes and ten Doeschate that can play into Netherlands' hands. Cricket history is littered with relatively unknown players making a name for themselves and the fact England and Pakistan won't have much information on some of the Dutch players could be their secret weapon.
Virender Sehwag said that Nannes was the fastest bowler he has faced and he was good enough to keep Glenn McGrath on the sidelines during the IPL. The success or otherwise of his four overs will be vital for Netherlands, but also keep an eye on the batting pair of Bas Zuiderent, a survivor from the 1996 World Cup, and Alexei Kervezee who both have county experience.
They were heavily beaten by Bangladesh in a warm-up game at Canterbury and only managed to squeeze past a PCA Masters XI by four runs. At the recent ICC World Cup Qualifiers they ensured their progress into the 2011 World Cup.
Squad: Jeroen Smits (capt & wk), Peter Borren, Mudassar Buhkari, Tom De Grooth, Maurits Jonkman, Alexei Kervezee, Dirk Nannes, Ruud Nijman, Darron Reekers, Edgar Schiferli, Pieter Seelaar, Eric Szwarczynski, Ryan ten Doeschate, Dan van Bunge, Bas Zuiderent