Netherlands rely on inside knowledge as they look to trump South Africa in ODI series
The Netherlands have a number of players of South African origin, plenty of whom have played professional cricket in South Africa
Colin Ackermann and Roelof van der Merwe have provided Dutch captain Pieter Seelaar with intelligence on South African personnel and playing conditions respectively as Netherlands look to exploit local knowledge for the upcoming three-ODI series. They have five South African-born players in their squad and one South African-born coach, Ryan ten Doeschate, and are making the most of their insiders.
"Colin is the most recent of our players who has played first-class cricket here in South Africa, so he actually ran me through all the players (in their squad) that I didn't know before," Seelaar said. "And Roelof - I don't know how long he has been playing for the Titans and he knows SuperSport Park inside out. He has given me the ins and outs of how the dimensions of this ground work and where a lot of runs will be scored and where the wicket taking options are. That was quite helpful in our planning."
The two sides play the first two games at SuperSport Park, on Friday and Sunday, before moving up the road for the third ODI on December 1 at the Wanderers, where they may not have someone to provide the same lowdown, but it's fairly well-known what to expect. Conditions should favour the quicks at both venues and the Dutch have a South African-born speedster who will want to make full use of the pace and bounce on offer. "Brandon Glover is one of the guys that can bowl with a bit of fire, he has got a bit of pace about him. He is going to enjoy not bowling in the same slow conditions we have in Europe but can actually bowl with fire here on bouncier, pacier wickets," Seelaar said.
But it's not just the South Africans that Seelaar hopes people will have their eyes on as the series unfolds. He tipped Vivian Kingma, who missed the T20 World Cup with injury, to also find pitches to his liking. "He has now come back to full fitness and is bowling with great discipline and great control and I look forward to seeing him take the new ball," Seelaar said.
It's not just optimism around individual players that Seelar has, but hopes for the team as a whole, who are looking to move up the World Cup Super League points table. "We do have the aim of trying to take points away from this series. We want to beat South Africa, at least once," Seelaar said. "We are not here to just say that it's nice to get a couple of games in. Hopefully we can get some results and some respect from fans all over the world to see that the Dutch are here to play some good cricket and take the fight to South Africa. We really want to meet the challenge head on."
Not least because the next 18 months could present the last opportunities for a team like Netherlands to get regular game time against the bigger nations. Seelaar echoed his coach Ryan Campbell's disappointment at the scrapping of the World Cup Super League but committed to making the most of the time they have left. "It's massively disappointing for us, not only for us but for the whole of Associate cricket. We don't know what the future holds. We've still got 21 games left in the competition and it's up to all of us to leave a mark and say that Associate cricket belongs on the biggest stage," he said.
The two sides play three ODIs, with the first two on Friday and Sunday, and the third Johannesburg on Wednesday.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent