THE HAGUE: Cricket hopefuls the Netherlands are heading to the Twenty20 World Cup in Australia after a “summer of learning” and a series of setbacks, including losing a coach and a captain.
The men in orange remain upbeat despite a world-record defeat to England and a series of blows testing the team’s mettle.
The first setback came in April when veteran Australian coach Ryan Campbell suffered a cardiac arrest while visiting with family in Britain.
Then in June, the Dutch were crushed in a 232-run defeat by England, who posted a record 498-4 in a one-day international in Amsterdam.
Shortly afterwards the team took another blow when skipper Pieter Seelaar stepped down due to a persistent back injury.
But rising star and all-rounder Bas de Leede, who played a pivotal role over the summer, said players remained positive ahead of the Netherland’s first game against UAE on October 16.
“The summer was an awesome learning experience for us,” said De Leede, speaking from Australia.
A energetic, young caretaker coach Ryan Cook took up the cudgels in difficult circumstances as the Netherlands faced series against the West Indies, England, New Zealand and Pakistan.
Together with new captain Scott Edwards, they have steered a team which came close to beating New Zealand in a T20 game in early August and Pakistan twice in a one-day internationals a few weeks later.
Those results “showed that the cricket we are playing is not that far off, they are just more consistent more often,” De Leede told AFP.
“It showed us that the margins between winning and losing are small.”
Cook has brought in a slew of familiar faces including veterans Roelof van der Merwe, Colin Ackermann and Stephan Myburgh for the T20 World Cup.
But it is the young players in the Dutch team on whose shoulders will rest most of hard work.
De Leede, 22, has rapidly risen to become the team’s foremost all-rounder.
The middle order batsman smacked two half-centuries in games against New Zealand in August, followed by 89 against Pakistan a few weeks later.
Vikramjit Singh has proven batting maturity far beyond his 19 years, hitting 50 against a determined Pakistan pace attack in August.
Leg-spinner Shariz Ahmad, who is just 19, took 2-15 in a T20 international against New Zealand in August.
This will be the Netherlands’ fourth consecutive T20 World Cup. A win eluded them a year ago in the UAE but they beat Ireland in 2016 in the group stage.

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By Dipak

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