Netherlands defied all the odds and managed to build a legacy in the ODI World Cup 2023. On paper, teams like Zimbabwe, West Indies and Ireland looked better but the gritty Netherlands team surprised everyone in the qualification by earning a ticket to India. However, the Scott Edwards-led were not expected to be a competitive team, especially after their series of poor performances against Karnataka ahead of the mega tournament.
One thing that hasn’t changed since then is the smile on their faces. The majority of the players are not even full-time cricketers. Paul van Meekeren used to work as an Uber Eats delivery boy a few years ago. Cricket has been their passion and hence, they all have come together to probably not write history but for history to remember them. In whichever part of the country they played, a huge section of the supporters followed them and that shows that the team is going in the right direction. All they probably need is proper infrastructure and game time, which will only make them better to reach greater heights in the future.
Coming back to their performance in the tournament, Netherlands finished at the bottom of the table, with four points in nine matches. Despite that, they should be extremely proud of the effort they have put in as they earned the respect of cricket fanatics all across the globe. Here’s what has gone in their favour, their mistakes and hows the future looks like:
The good, bad and the not so pretty
The wins against South Africa and Bangladesh in the World Cup were definitely a career highlight for the Dutch cricketers. In Dharamshala, where the surface often favours the bowlers, South Africa had the upper hand. However, Netherlands put up an incredible show with the ball and scripted a historic 38-run victory (DLS method) in their favour.
Against Bangladesh at Eden Gardens, it was once again the bowlers who made it possible. They have been a force to reckon with in the tournament and that will be their biggest positive in the tournament. The sense of responsibility that players like Aryan Dutt, van Meekeren and Roelof van der Merwe should act as an example for the young players.
Another massive plus point was definitely Scott Edwards. The skipper was fantastic behind the stumps and with the bat. He was spot-on with his decision-making in the majority of the cases and preferred to play an attacking brand of cricket, which should remain the template for them going forward.
Could they have qualified for the Champions Trophy 2025? They had the belief and a good team to do so. However, the batters failed to deliver. Openers Max O’Dowd and Vikramjit Singh came to the tournament with a lot of expectations but failed to live up to their potential. Wesley Barresi too couldn’t get going. Colin Ackermann, Scott and Sybrand Engelbrecht were sensational throughout but with a little bit of support from the top order, things could have been different.
The moment that mattered
South Africa were one of the favourites to win the ODI World Cup 2023. They were incredible in the ODI series against Australia and started magnificently in the mega tournament. Hence, it was expected for them to squish Netherlands in Dharamshala. However, Netherlands yet again defeated the Proteas in a World Cup, courtesy of an impeccable innings from skipper Scott Edwards.
He went on to score 78* runs off 69 deliveries as Netherlands posted 245 runs on board. Even so, South Africa seemed to be the favourites to chase it down. However, Logan van Beek, van der Merwe, van Meekeren and Bas de Leede played their best cricket to register a historic win. The players were more than delighted after the win as it is one moment that the players and the fans will remember for the longest of time.
Remember the names
Scott Edwards, Aryan Dutt and Paul van Meekeren were the guiding lights for Netherlands in the tournament. The Dutch skipper scored 259 runs in nine matches but it is not just about the runs but the brand of cricket his team played in the tournament. Opening the bowling with Aryan Dutt, setting an attacking brand of field even against top-tier teams and absorbing the pressure requires extreme courage and belief, which the skipper possessed.
When it comes to Dutt and van Meekeren, they knew their role well and performed at their best. Dutt put pressure on the opponent with the new ball while van Meekeren delivered in the middle overs. One other impressive thing was the amount of passion and dedication Roelof van der Merwe has. He played some brilliant cameos with the bat, including a one against South Africa and with the ball, the 38-year-old showed that age is just a number.
Netherlands now know the recipe and all they have to do is cook well. Their opening duo have failed to perform in the biggest stage of them all and hence, the team should keep others ready to replace them if required. The bowling looks more or less sorted as the more these players will play, the better they will get. Players like Sybrand Engelbrecht, Roelof van der Merwe and Wesley Barresi may not continue for long and hence, the team needs to search new talent to carry on with the momentum.
Coming of age
At just 20 years of age, Dutt picked up 10 wickets in nine matches at an economy of 5.49. He has earned appreciation from former cricketers as the spinner has got what it takes to perform in international cricket. In the absence of van der Merwe in the future, Netherlands should build their spin attack around him as he has the potential to take his team to the next level.