Myburgh injury compounds Dutch defeat
The Netherlands suffered another home defeat in the Clydesdale Bank 40 League on Wednesday, when they lost to Leicestershire by 33 runs at the newly-rebranded ABN-AMRO International Cricket Center in Amstelveen.
It was a better performance by the Dutch than that which saw them lose by nine wickets to Worcestershire at Voorburg a month ago, and indeed the home side held their own for much of the Leicestershire innings, and even made a promising start to their pursuit of a total of 208 for seven.
But the game arguably turned on two disastrous overs for the Orange Lions, and on a moment early in their reply when Stephan Myburgh, who seemed in the mood to take the match away from the visitors in double-quick time, suffered a serious hand injury which forced him to retire.
Timm van der Gugten gave his side the perfect start when, after Peter Borren had won the toss and put Leicestershire in in a match beginning 45 minutes late and reduced to 36 overs a side, he bowled the Foxes’ skipper Josh Cobb with the fifth ball of the game and before there was a run on the board.
Van der Gugten went on to produce a sustained eight-over spell, and was further rewarded when former West Indian Test batsman Ramnaresh Sarwan, on 24, edged a catch to keeper Wesley Barresi. By that time, too, Greg Smith had been brilliantly run out by Cameron Borgas, and Leicestershire were on 51 for three.
That became 74 for four when Borren induced Matthew Boyce to give Barresi the second of his three catches and it seemed that the visitors, approaching the halfway of their innings, might be heading for a total of around 180 at best.
Michael Thornely, however, had settled in at the other end, and he and Wayne White now put on 69 for the fifth wicket in a partnership which began steadily and reaching a rousing climax when, at the start of the 31st over, the batsman took their powerplay.
Thornely had reached 39 from 62 deliveries, but he and White each struck a six off the first of Michael Swart’s two powerplay overs, and then, after Mudassar Bukhari had removed White for 38 in the following over, the former Unicorns batsman proceeded to plunder 30 off Swart’s second, smashing three sixes and three fours.
Suddenly he had raced from 40 to 79 in the space of ten deliveries, and Leicestershire were heading for a total in excess of 200. Thornely hit another six off Shahbaz Bashir, who had bowled pretty well on his Dutch debut, but then holed out to Tom Heggelman at long off trying to repeat the feat off the next ball, and the Foxes’ innings closed on 208.
Borren had been forced to leave the field briefly after gashing a finger trying to take a low return catch from Thornely, but worse was to follow for the Dutch, who are about to embark on the busiest three-week period in their international history.
If the momentum had been with Leicestershire in the final overs of their innings, Stephan Myburgh swung it back the Orange Lions’ way, cracking three fours off Matthew Hoggard’s opening over and another from his second.
Despite the loss of Swart, caught behind off Hoggard without scoring, a fifth boundary off the first ball of Nathan Buck’s second over took him to 21 from eleven deliveries, and he seemed intent on knocking off the runs himself in the shortest possible order. But then the next ball climbed on him from a good length, striking him on the glove. It was immediately obvious that he was in trouble, and he left the field with the assistance of team physio Tessa Könemann.
That setback proved telling for the Orange Lions. Buck was generating plenty of life from the pitch, but it was Hoggard who struck next by trapping Barresi in front, and then Shahbaz was well caught at point off Buck’s bowling to make it 35 for three.
Borren, obviously impeded by his hand injury, did not last long, and it was left to Borgas and Tom de Grooth to rebuild the Dutch innings. They did so pretty effectively, more than doubling the score and adding 61 in a fifth-wicket partnership at almost a run a ball.
Then just as the home side seemed to be working their way back into the game, spinner James Sykes ripped through the middle order, removing Borgas, Bukhari and De Grooth in the space of four deliveries to reduce the Dutch from 118 for four to 122 for seven. With the news coming through that Myburgh had gone to hospital with suspected broken fingers, that was effectively 122 for eight.
Still the Dutch weren’t finished. Seelaar and Heggelman added 47 from 36 balls for the eighth wicket, and although the asking rate had climbed to eight an over there was a glimmer of hope for the home supporters, especially when Seelaar hit two straight sixes in consecutive overs from Sykes and from Rob Taylor.
It couldn’t last, though, and when Seelaar, on 28, skied a pull off Buck to mid-on it was effectively all over. Hoggard removed Van der Gugten, and the Dutch challenge ended on 175.
This defeat, their third in five home games, does not quite end the Netherlands’ hopes of reaching the semi-finals of the CB40 competition, but with a negative net run rate and with three or four games fewer to play than their rivals, they will really need to win all their three remaining fixtures, at home to Gloucestershire on 27 July and away to Lancashire and Essex, and win them well.
They have already beaten all three counties this season, but it’s a tough assignment, and with Myburgh likely to be out of action for several weeks, Tom Cooper committed elsewhere, and fitness worries among the seam brigade, coach Peter Drinnen has an unenviable task.