The player names on the back of the Dutch players’ shirts were unusually small unlike the other teams who choose to indicate it in large characters. And they proved that names do not matter, it is the performance on the field that matters. It was a case of so near yet so far for the Netherlands against England in the Group B fixture of the ICC Cricket World Cup in Nagpur which is incidentally the city of Oranges!
Ryan ten Doeschate played the innings of his lifetime scoring 119 of just 110 balls against an English attack which did not look the part with the exception of the off-spinner Graeme Swann. It was hard to believe that the bowling attack that retained the Ashes was being put to the sword by a team that had limited international exposure. Doeschate took his time to get off the mark and get his eye in but he proved that his ODI average of 65 was no fluke.
Peter Borren, the Dutch captain, won the toss and decided to bat. They were provided a solid platform by the hardworking Alexei Kervezee and the dynamic Wesley Barresi. The duo put on 36 in only 6 overs before Bresnan got Kervezee courtesy a top edge off a short delivery. Barresi played some nice shots to keep the scoreboard moving before he was undone by a smart stumping by England wicket keeper Matt Prior.
Tom Cooper and ten Doeschate strung together a good partnership of 78 in less than 17 overs to keep the momentum going for Netherlands. Cooper played a stunning pull shot off Bresnan – he just used the pace of the ball and closed the face of the bat at the right time. Doeschate also played some lovely shots and the partnership was looking good for more when Cooper sent a full delivery from Paul Collingwood straight to the hands of short midwicket. Bas Zuiderent couldn’t do much and ended up spooning a catch to midwicket of Swann. England seemed to have come back into the match nicely but more problems lay ahead of them.
The innings was given a further boost by Tom de Grooth along with Doeschate. The pair added 64 runs in only 10 overs – a sign that the Dutchmen were starting to open up. The batting Powerplay was taken in the 43rd over – a decision vindicated by what was to follow. De Grooth lost his stumps to a straighter one from Stuart Broad but that did not deter Doeschate as he dispatched the bowlers for boundaries at will. He was ably supported by his captain Peter Borren who chose judiciously to rotate the strike. The Powerplay yielded 50 runs for the loss of just one wicket and ten Doeschate brought up a remarkable century.
England were struggling to contain the runs at this point and it was evident they were stunned with the strokeplay as James Anderson leaked three consecutive boundaries in the 48th over. Netherlands ended their quota of 50 overs at 292/6 – a big total. This was truly sensational and an upset was on the cards.
Kevin Pietersen and Andrew Strauss began the England innings in right earnest as they plundered 12 runs of the opening over. Their partnership provided England not only with the runs but also the hope that they could win this game after a poor bowling performance. Pietersen was dismissed, though, in the 18th over when he couldn’t help holing out to cover off the impressive left arm spinner Pieter Seelaar. Strauss was looking good and with the company of the in-form Jonathan Trott, began slowly chipping away at the target when he decided to pull a short ball unconvincingly and gave Tom Cooper a catch at deep square leg.
Doeschate wasn’t done for the day. With his bowling he picked up two quick wickets – of Trott and Ian Bell – to mount the pressure on England. But Paul Collingwood and Ravi Bopara ruled out an upset with a clinical assault that helped them clinch the issue with 8 balls to spare. The Oranjes lost the match in the city of Oranges but won the hearts of all. The Associates’ cause certainly got a big boost with this performance after the disappointments of Sunday.
England will have to work very hard as they still seem to be in the Ashes hangover. They need to get their bowlers to bowl good line and lengths – they should now realise that they are now bowling in India and not Australia. I’m not too sure if Pietersen is the right man to open the batting for England because that just leaves a gaping hole in the middle order which a better bowling attack will be able to exploit. They need to really think a lot for the coming matches.
As for the Dutchmen, they’ve got the belief now. They need to sustain this going forward and give more teeth to their bowling. I’m sure they can spring a few upsets. My friends in Amsterdam would be really proud if they did so in this tournament.