Makeshift Dutch outclassed by Lancashire
The Netherlands suffered another crushing defeat against county opposition at Old Trafford on Sunday, crumbling to 68 all out against a purposeful Lancashire attack and losing by nine wickets.
As at Voorburg back in June, when they were dismissed by Worcestershire for 57, Peter Borren’s side found themselves put in on a pitch which gave plenty of assistance to both seam and spin, and they were again quite unable to rise to the challenge.
Backed up by some outstanding catching, the Lancashire bowlers established their dominance from the very first of the 27 overs to which the match had been reduced by a band of rain which swept across the ground just as the captains were about to toss, and they never relaxed their grip for a moment.
But in truth, the Dutch side had suffered a series of heavy blows before they ever set foot on the turf of Manchester’s historic ground.
The unavailability of Tom Cooper and overseas player Cameron Borgas, on Australia A and Sri Lankan Premier League duty respectively, and injuries to Stephan Myburgh and Timm van der Gugten in the Orange Lions’ two previous matches, were compounded by the fact that the Dutch were the victims of Britain’s visa procedures, which meant that Borgas’s proposed replacement, ACC’s Graeme van Buuren, and Shahbaz Bashir were unable to get permission to travel with the team.
And to make matters even worse Sebastiaan Braat, called up as cover for Shahbaz, broke his thumb in an Under-19 Regional League match on Friday and was also forced to withdraw.
Any side would find it difficult to cope with the absence of four players of the quality of Myburgh, Cooper, Borgas and Van der Gugten, but when one adds to that the fact that the management had yet to settle on a UK-based overseas player when the team was announced 48 hours before the scheduled start of the match, it is a good deal less surprising that in the event the Dutch batted like a team in disarray.
The choice ultimately fell on 29-year-old South African allrounder Werner Coetsee, who has spent several seasons playing club cricket in England, and who this year has been performing well for Enfield in the Lancashire League.
It is asking a lot of anyone, however, to fit immediately into an entirely new set-up at a higher level of cricket, and Coetsee was unable to make much impression, being run out after facing just two deliveries and bowling six reasonably tidy overs in what was all too clearly a lost cause, conceding 31 runs without taking a wicket.
But Coetsee came to the wicket at 49 for five, with Michael Swart, Eric Szwarczynski, Peter Borren, Wesley Barresi and Daan van Bunge – recalled to the ranks after a three-year absence – all back in the pavilion, and much of the damage had already been done.
Amjad Shahzad had made the first incisions with a hostile four-over spell in which he removed Swart and Szwarczynski and gave Wesley Barresi, the only member of the Dutch top order who showed any real sign of taking on the Lancashire bowlers as he made a 29-ball 20, some uncomfortable moments as well, conceding just seven runs in the process.
Oliver Newby contributed to the mayhem when Borren fell to an outstanding catch by Ashwell Prince at midwicket, plucking a well-timed shot from the air, and then the spinners took over. Barresi became the first of three victims for Gary Keedy, brilliantly caught by Steven Croft as he ran back at extra cover to cling on to a mistimed drive, and Van Bunge soon followed.
Two balls later Coetsee was run out, and the Netherlands were on 50 for six. Stephen Parry ran through the rest of the order to finish with three for 13, including the wicket of Mudassar Bukhari – the only man apart from Barresi to reach double figures – who fell to a stunning catch at slip by Prince.
Keedy finished it off by having Tim Gruijters stumped to end with three for 15, and the Dutch innings was over in just 20.5 overs.
Borren opened with off spin at both ends, but from the moment Stephen Moore cracked Gruijters’ first ball to the point boundary it was apparent that the Dutch bowlers were going to be unable to apply much pressure to the Lancashire batsmen as they went after such a low total.
Their only moment of good fortune came when Prince, on four, seemed to lose track of the ball entirely, wandered out of his crease, and was run out by a Borren direct hit.
Moore and Croft saw their side safely home, however, taking just 16.3 overs to do so, and the only issue towards the end was whether Moore would be able to reach his half-century. In the event he did so off the final ball of the match, pushing Ahsan Malik Jamil for the single which gave Lancashire victory to reach an unbeaten 54-ball 50.
After a campaign which promised so much and which saw the Dutch play some very good cricket indeed, they will now have one final chance to end on a high when they take on Essex at Colchester next Sunday. One can only hope that they are able to regroup sufficiently in the course of the week to give a much better account of themselves.