Fast bowler Paul van Meekeren has urged major teams to play against the Netherlands instead of the usual practice of playing English county sides in the build-up to a series against England. This, he believes, will ensure a regular diet of competitive cricket for the improving Dutch side as well as offset the valuable loss of opportunities against the top sides following ICC’s decision to scrap the ODI Super League, one that has allowed the Dutch to face the likes of Pakistan, New Zealand, England and West Indies earlier this summer.
“There’s no reason why Test teams can’t come to Holland instead of playing the counties,” he said after Netherlands’ clash against India at the SCG, their first international game against India in 11 years. “We’ve got the facilities. I think this year hopefully we showed how good the wickets are in Holland. I think the practice wickets were outstanding back home, and we played some competitive games.
“We can be as competitive as playing the warm-up game against other counties. Why not come to Holland for ten days before they travel to England?”
In Sydney, Netherlands gave a good account of themselves with the ball, keeping India down to 32/1 in the PowerPlay. They could have had their vaunted opponents under more pressure had Tim Pringle held on to a simple catch to dismiss Rohit Sharma. Instead, the Indian captain went on to hit a half-century, setting it up for Suryakumar Yadav and Virat Kohli’s unbeaten 95-run partnership to take the game beyond Netherlands’ reach.
“If we’re being honest to ourselves, [we would have liked] probably a little bit less, especially after the first 10 overs,” van Meekeren said. “Obviously, we didn’t take the wickets that we wanted to, which gives them the freedom to play as they did at the back. Yeah, we’re being hard on ourselves. I guess you can’t miss by a centimetre…you’re in trouble. Bowling against the best players in the world, even if you miss a little bit, you just go.
“I personally did it three times, and I’m sure some of the other bowlers might feel the same about their own bowling. But I think, firstly, I’m very proud about how we went about it. Them being one down [at the halfway stage], it could have been a lot more. We could have panicked and lost our heads, but I think all the bowlers stayed very clear on what they wanted to do. Sometimes you get it wrong and you’re in trouble, and sometimes you execute and it’s only a dot ball no matter how good they are.”
van Meekeren said he was still trying to process the feeling of having played in front of over 36,000 spectators at the famous Sydney Cricket Ground when until recently the Dutch team matches weren’t even broadcast on television. “I said this would be a day I’d tell my grandkids about, and it is playing against India, but at the end of the day you are playing against 11 other men, they aren’t gods or anything. You just compete men to men and that’s what we tried to do today.
“You try to block the noise out. You watch it on TV about 100 times and just to be there is very special. I think at the moment I probably didn’t realise it as much, and it will probably sink in in the next 24 hours.”