Smits's men pull off one of the greatest of all upsets
It was the most dramatic conclusion to the tournament’s opening match that could have been imagined, and it ended with the greatest day in Dutch cricketing history, and one of the greatest upsets in any global tournament.
In the end it was the full-time professionals of England who cracked, and the Dutch batsmen held their nerve admirably to pull off a sensational last-ball victory.
The Dutch reply could scarcely have got away to a worse start, Alexei Kervezee swinging across the line at James Anderson’s fifth ball and succeeding only in skying a simple catch to Stuart Broad at mid-on.
Undeterred by this setback, Darron Reekers smacked two fine sixes, the second of them, off Anderson, magnificently struck just in front of square leg. But in the following over, having made 20 off 13 deliveries, he mistimed another hefty blow off Broad and was caught by Owais Shah at midwicket.
At 23 for two the Dutch could have been teetering on the brink, but Tom de Grooth, who now came to the wicket, demonstrated his determination to take the fight to the English bowlers by cutting his first ball from Broad to the point boundary.
He proceeded to unleash a series of fine attacking shots, pulling Broad for four and then belting the same bowler back over his head for a splendid six. One could sense the belief of the Dutch rising as England started to feel the pressure, occasional little slips in the field showing the strain.
So well did the Dutch pair combine fine attacking strokes with well-judged placements and running that they went ahead of the Duckworth/Lewis par score at the end of the 6th over, and stayed there as ever-darker clouds built up and rain began to fall.
Adil Rashid, after being reverse-swept for four by De Grooth, beat Zuiderent as he came down the pitch, and Foster completed the stumping. Even this wicket did not put the Dutch behind the D/L rate, and Peter Borren maintained the momentum by emulating De Grooth, flat-batting his first ball through wide midwicket for a superb boundary.
They did have a certain degree of good fortune: Borren mistimed a sweep which might have gone to hand but didn’t, and a couple of overs later his desperate dive going for a second wouldn’t have been enough had Bopara not muffed the attempted run-out.
Borren was composed enough to clown to his partner, miming wading through wet concrete, but he pulled Collingwood’s next delivery into the top tier of the Grand Stand, undoubtedly the shot of the day.
Two balls later, however, De Grooth fell, caught off a leading edge by Key at mid-off, and The Netherlands were 116 for four. De Grooth had made a superb 49, off 30 balls, with six fours and that one six.
Still the Dutch led on the D/L rate, and Borren and Daan van Bunge proceeded at a steady six an over, surviving another run-out chance before Borren swung Anderson round the corner and was caught by Shah for a 25-ball 30. He was furious with himself, and the English majority in the crowd erupted as the players celebrated.
But this brought Ryan ten Doeschate to the wicket, with 30 needed off 24 balls. Nine came off Rashid’s final over, but then Anderson claimed a third wicket, as Van Bunge carved him to Luke Wright on the cover boundary, and he just held on to the catch.
A succession of singles maintained the momentum, and then Ten Doeschate drove powerfully in the air through cover, just beating a desperate but unavailing dive from Eoin Morgan on the boundary. It would have been a catch of a lifetime, but as it was it was another, crucial four.
So 7 were needed off the final over, and it was an almost unbelievable climax. Ten Doeschate chopped the first ball back to Broad, whose throw missed the stumps as the striker raced to the bowler’s end. It was Schiferli’s turn to dive off the next one, and it took a referral to establish that it was Broad’s hand, and not the ball, which had broken the stumps before he was home.
Broad dropped a difficult return catch off the next delivery: four needed off three. They ran a bye: three off two. Ten Doeschate drove the penultimate ball, but only to mid-on and they could only get a single, the batsman slapping his pads with the bat in frustration as Schiferli ended up on strike.
One for a tie and a Super Over; two for the win. Schiferli mistimed his swipe, they ran anyway, and then Broad’s throw missed again and the ball went for an overthrow. The Dutch ran onto the field as if they’d just won the World Cup, and in a way they had.
Then they made their way over to their supporters, and gave them the salute they deserved. It’s a fair bet that many of them will be back on Tuesday, when the Dutch take on Pakistan. After this effort, who’d bet against them?