With cricket in a literal standstill, and uncertainty surrounding its return, the Netherlands team is fearing the worst.
This year, they were supposed to be playing in the ODI Super League, the qualifying tournament for 2023 World Cup. But the Covid-19 pandemic has not only forced it to be deferred but also backed the ICC into a corner where it believes a review of the entire FTP may be necessary. In case one of those measures involves scrapping the Super League entirely, then, according to their head coach, Ryan Campbell, the Netherlands will be "out in the cold" for the next four years.
Before the world was rocked by Covid-19, the Dutch were guaranteed 24 ODIs over the next two years following their success in the World Cricket League Championship in 2017, which confirmed their spot in the 13-team Super League. But that is now up in the air after a decision made at the ICC chief executives committee meeting last week to conduct and extensive review of the existing calendar.
"We worked bloody hard to get it to become part of this 13-team competition," Campbell told ESPNcricinfo. "If you think about it, the day that we won against Namibia [in December 2017] and became the 13th team, we had to wait for the Super League to be announced and when it was going to be. Then they announced what was going to happen to the World Cricket League and the World [League Two] has been started and they've played a lot of rounds and we're still waiting to play ODI cricket for the Super League.
"You can imagine all the frustration if, all of a sudden, all the countries who have all the money then turn around and say, 'Oh no, we need to play our own home series and make more money and leave us out,' because we literally would be out in the cold."
Campbell said it would be more than just a "mistake" to scrap the Super League and ask the Netherlands to wait possibly the length of a whole World Cup cycle (four years) to play ODIs again.
"We can't rejoin the World Cricket League because that's already well in advance, and if we can't play the Super League… Can you imagine leaving a country like us which has worked bloody hard and I think everyone would agree, we're a good team, to play zero ODI cricket [sic, Netherlands played two ODIs each against Nepal and Zimbabwe in 2018 & 2019] for a period that would stretch to about four years? That's not just a mistake. That's almost criminal. So let's hope that common sense prevails and we go, 'We're gonna stick to the Super League.' It was brought up for a very good reason, to give credence to ODI cricket, and let's work it out. I just hope people don't forget about the Dutch."
The Dutch government recently announced that all professional sport in the country was suspended until September 1. It means that Netherlands' first series as part of the Super League, a three-match slate hosting Pakistan in July, has been shelved. Visits from New Zealand for a T20I as well as an ODI series against USA, Oman and Namibia have also been scrapped.
"This year was supposed to be a very exciting year for Dutch cricket but now we don't know anything," Campbell said. "The first chance that we may be able to play is [the ODI tour to] Zimbabwe in September."
Netherlands will have to host four teams before the Super League ends in March 2022. Three of them - England, Ireland and West Indies - are all set to visit in 2021. That just leaves the postponed Pakistan series from this summer and Campbell wants to do all he can to make sure it happens. "If it means we have to go to Pakistan, then we'll do it. We're willing to go wherever we need to go."
The Netherlands were due to have a training camp in Spain in early March before heading to Namibia for a six-match ODI and T20I tour at the end of the month, both of which were cancelled as the pandemic spread. The Namibia tour was meant to kickstart their 2020 campaign culminating in a T20 World Cup appearance in October.
Campbell is in contact with Namibia coach Pierre de Bruyn with a view to facilitate some cricket once border restrictions are lifted.
"If that means we just jump on a plane and go somewhere to play… I'm talking to Pierre de Bruyn, I'm talking to my mates in Hong Kong," Campbell said of the country he played for in the 2016 T20 World Cup. "They understand how to deal with issues. They've been through SARS and been through this. Going to Hong Kong might be an option for us. If the World Cup proceeds on time, then we'll be ready. If it's delayed, then we'll proceed with other plans."