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How Logan van Beek's Plan B took him to the World Cup

The allrounder has been instrumental in Netherlands getting to the tournament. He might easily have been there for New Zealand instead

Firdose Moonda
Firdose Moonda
24-Aug-2023
Logan van Beek in the field, Netherlands vs USA, ICC World Cup Qualifier, June 22, 2023

Logan van Beek put playing in the 2019 World Cup down as a goal to achieve. Eight years on, he has finally made it  •  Alex Davidson/ICC/Getty Images

The path of a professional sportsperson can rely as much on talent and luck as on preparation and planning, and Logan van Beek is a fan of the latter. Early in his New Zealand domestic career for Canterbury, he wrote down some goals. "Play in the 2015 World Cup" was one.
It was more of a dream than an actual destination because by the beginning of 2015, van Beek had only played 15 List A matches over four years. He averaged 9.00 with the bat and 40.00 with the ball. If those numbers were the other way around, he would have been a shoo-in for the squad, but as they stood, he was nowhere near it and he knew it.
"I was living with Tom Latham and Matt Henry at the time, and they both got picked in that squad and I didn't get picked," van Beek said in Harare, the day before Netherlands played Sri Lanka in the World Cup Qualifier final. "I wasn't even close at the time, but it's still pretty tough when you've got two of your close mates playing in a World Cup that you want to be playing in. Still, it was amazing to watch them."
New Zealand enjoyed a stellar run at the tournament. They won all eight of the matches they played at home, including a group stage match against eventual champions Australia, and quarter- and semi-final victories over West Indies and South Africa respectively. (Who can ever forget the South Africa match?) But Henry only made two appearances and Latham none, and so van Beek didn't really need to feel too far behind.
"The next goal was to play the 2019 World Cup," he said. "I was going to be in my prime then [at 28], so if I could achieve that, that would be amazing."
In the four years between the World Cups, van Beek added over 30 List A caps to his name, including making his international debut - but not for the country you may think.
Though born in Canterbury, van Beek has mixed heritage and has always identified as "very much a West Indian and a Kiwi". The West Indian half comes courtesy his maternal grandfather, Sammy Guillen, who moved from Trinidad and Tobago to New Zealand in the mid-1950s. Guillen played Test cricket for West Indies and New Zealand, and the majority of his matches for either team were against the other. Guillen was a big influence on van Beek, who ultimately chose cricket over basketball because of him.
"I was very close to my grandfather. He was my idol. I looked up to him and I just wanted to be like him," van Beek said. "He sang, he danced, he was the biggest character in our family, and so cricket was always going to be what I was going to play."
But it wasn't West Indies who secured van Beek's services between those two World Cups.
"I also had this Dutch passport in my drawer somewhere," he said.
His grandfather on his father's side moved to New Zealand from Holland, and though he died when van Beek was five, his origins meant the boy had a document that would prove crucial in the development of his career.
In 2017, van Beek played for Netherlands in series against Zimbabwe and the UAE. He returned to New Zealand later that year to play domestic cricket in the southern-hemisphere summer and in 2018 was picked for New Zealand A in a series against Pakistan A.
Switching from playing for an Associate member to a Full Member carries no qualification time, so van Beek could easily go from playing for Netherlands to doing so for New Zealand if he got selected, but his numbers did not improve quickly enough. His batting average rose to 17.27 in the time between the World Cups and he took 41 wickets at 28.43, but he still missed the squad while his friends, Latham and Henry, both made it and played in a final that remains among the best 50-over matches of all time.
"I was there, watching from the stands, and it was the most unbelievable game that I've ever experienced," van Beek said. "I was so proud of them, but I was also very jealous because I wanted to be there."
So it was back to the notepad and pen. "Going into this year, I wrote another goal, of making the 2023 World Cup, and I felt like I was getting close, chipping away…"
Van Beek played first-class and List A cricket for New Zealand against India and Australia in the 2022-23 season, but he only had two scores in double figures and his 14 wickets in six matches came at an average just under 30. That's when reality hit. "I am not quite in the picture," he admitted. "The quality of players we have in New Zealand is immense. The way that Kyle Jamieson came into the picture, the way Matt Henry is still bowling, and with Tim Southee, Trent Boult, Lockie Ferguson and Scott Kuggeleijn - all these guys - it's a tough team to get into."
But it wasn't the only team van Beek could play for. While struggling to make the New Zealand side, he was included in the Dutch team. He played white-ball formats for Netherlands, including at last year's T20 World Cup, where the team reached the Super 12s, but it still didn't take him closer to his ultimate aim. "It was a great experience but the 50-over World Cup is the pinnacle of cricket, in my opinion," he said.
There was a pathway for Netherlands to get there. They were the only Associate team included in the 13-team World Cup Super League, which gave them a shot at automatic qualification. But they were never really in the race to make it on the basis of points-table standings, with only three wins from their 24 ODIs. Van Beek played in 15 of those games and felt first-hand their chance to make the World Cup slip away.
By this point he had learnt to deal with disappointment by focusing on other aspects of life. "My relationships with my wife, with my parents, with my brothers and sisters and with my friends, they are my No. 1 and then cricket comes after that," he said. "It's about doing everything I can possibly do to make sure that I'm fit and healthy, my relationships are super solid, and I'm improving as a cricketer. And then from that point, it's almost: just let go."
From the bottom of the table, the Dutch looked down and out, but in losing, they learned. Unlike other Associate teams, they had regular fixtures against Full Members, including World Cup holders England. They were humbled but they honed their skills. By the time the campaign to qualify for the World Cup arrived, though they were without their entire frontline attack, who all had county-cricket commitments, Netherlands felt as ready as they could be and van Beek was quietly hopeful. "I was thinking, 'Okay, this is going to be tough to qualify for the World Cup. But you know, we're here, we've got a chance.'"
It helped that they had toured Zimbabwe earlier in the year and taken the first ODI off them then. It helped also that Teja Nidamanuru scored a century in that win; no Dutch batter had made one since Wesley Barresi's hundred against Kenya in 2014. On good batting tracks in the Qualifiers, big scores would be important and Netherlands saw that as early as their first game, against Zimbabwe again. Though they made 315, they had no hundreds in their innings and Zimbabwe chased the score down with more than nine overs to spare. Van Beek was right: getting to the World Cup would be difficult.
Wins over USA and Nepal were to be expected but it was only when Netherlands defied the rankings by tying a high-scoring clash with West Indies at 374 and then winning the Super Over - that talk of reaching the World Cup became credible. Van Beek was the main protagonist against West Indies. He scored 28 off 14 balls to level the scores, slammed a four or six off every ball in a 30-run Super Over, and then defended the target with the ball.
It was the perfect game for him. "The one thing I've been working on for my whole career is to be the finisher, the one who wins the game, who shakes the hands and pulls the stumps out and walks off. I've been in that situation many times where I've fallen short," he said.
After a chat over dinner with Jade Dernbach, a team-mate from Derbyshire, van Beek realised that was something he needed to get used to. "He [Dernbach] said, 'Look, if you want to be a finisher, you know that you're going to fail a lot. And you've got to be able to take the failure just as well as the wins.' And so that is the mindset I've got," van Beek said. "If I think I'm gonna do well in every last over, then I'm delusional. But if I go into those moments and be realistic and just stick to my process, and give myself the best chance, every third or fourth time I might do it."
In the World Cup Qualifiers, he did it twice in four games. Sort of. After the remarkable win over West Indies, Netherlands still needed to beat Scotland, and surpass their net run rate, to finish in the top two. That meant chasing 278 inside 44 overs. While Bas de Leede's hundred kept Netherlands in the hunt, he let van Beek hit the winning run. "It was kind of nice that Bas gave me the opportunity to do that so I could tick another game off the list that I finished," van Beek said.
Finally, after eight years of wishing himself at the World Cup, van Beek has got himself there - if not quite in the way he had imagined. "The first thought that I had walking off the field was that I wrote down that goal of playing the 2023 World Cup and I probably didn't get right which team I was going to play with," he said. "You never know how your career is going to play out. As soon as you think that you need to be in a certain spot at a certain time, more often than not, you will be disappointed. Maybe I had to wait to have a Super Over and for my career to take a different turn."
Maybe that also explains van Beek's mantra: "Get knocked down seven, get up eight", which he hopes will be the title of his autobiography at some point. "I know I'm just going to keep picking myself back up and keep turning up. That's the way I play and that's how I'm going to keep playing," he said. "I cannot wait to tick this goal off, of playing the World Cup. I cannot wait to get on the plane to India and just go out there and play and have no expectations and enjoy the battle."
Van Beek is not the only one taking that carpe diem attitude into the tournament; it's the mindset of the squad as a whole. The Dutch don't like the word "Associate" and don't use it in their environment. They simply call themselves the Netherlands cricket team and they want to be seen in the same way as every other team at the tournament. "It's a ten-team competition and we've earned the right to be there, so we should be treated just the same as any other team," van Beek said. "We should have the respect of those other teams that are there. If they take us lightly, then they might cop the same thing as West Indies."
That's a threat that no team will take lightly. West Indies are two-time holders of the World Cup, and for the first time in the tournament's history, they will not be participants. Van Beek, who is part West Indian, had a big say in that. New Zealand are among the teams he will take on at this World Cup, and perhaps he is writing another goal down as you read this.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's correspondent for South Africa and women's cricket