Cardiff MCC University to top Dutch A team bill
Players on the margins of the Dutch national side will gain a further opportunity to make their case for promotion next season, when an A team will visit Wales and western England in early June.
The side will play three matches, two of them against Cardiff MCC University, one of the six university-based centres of excellence who play in the MCC Universities Championship. Cardiff took the title last year, beating Durham at Lord’s in a hard-fought final.
The third fixture is yet to be finalised, but KNCB Cricket Development Manager Roland Lefebvre is aiming to take on one of the Minor Counties sides from the West of England.
With ICC Europe’s A team tournament no longer featuring in the international schedule, the leading Associates need to find alternative ways of bridging the gap between youth tournaments, club cricket, and the international stage.
A comparative lack of home-produced players who succeed in making the transition has led to the Dutch selectors drawing heavily on qualified players who have learned their cricket elsewhere, and initiatives like this tour, the North-South series which was introduced last year, and the new regional under-19 competition which will be launched this season can all play their part in a more coherent and successful development programme.
It could also provide a showcase for at least some of the young players who have been spending their winter training at Ben Williams’ academy in Tauranga and playing club cricket in the Bay of Plenty. Excelsior’s Joost Kroesen and Quick Haag’s James Gruijters have both posted half-centuries, and Sebastiaan Braat (Hermes-DVS), Paul van Meekeren (Rood en Wit) and Kroesen have all been among the wickets.
All have been playing in their clubs’ first teams in the Dutch domestic competition, and with other youngsters like the VRA trio of Vinoo Tewarie, who made his full international debut last season and who is bound for the ICC Europe academy in Pune at the end of February, Matthijs Luten and Victor Lubbers also coming into the reckoning, opportunities like the A team tour to Cardiff will enable them to further test their mettle.
‘We want to give emerging players the chance to experience a variety of different conditions,’ Lefebvre said this week, ‘and with opponents like Ireland’s Andrew Balbirnie, who plays for Cardiff University, the A side can be sure of a challenging work-out.
‘ It’s all part of putting a more complete development system in place, and we hope it will be only the first of a series of such tours. With visits by Belgium and hopefully by an Italian A team in the course of this summer, not to mention the North-South games and the Continental Twenty20 tournament, there will be plenty of cricket for the rising generation of young Dutch cricketers.’
It is to be hoped that the young Dutch cricketers will respond enthusiastically to this more intensive programme: regional events and national selections have been blighted in the past by call-offs, many of them at the last minute, but with the KNCB now in a position to invest more in player development, including the offer of contracts and bursaries, there can be no excuse for failing to take the opportunities which are offered.