Dutch finish with defeat in Colchester
What has by any standards been a strange Dutch campaign in this season’s Clydesdale Bank 40 League ended with another defeat on Sunday, as the Orange Lions went down to Essex in Colchester by a thumping 117 runs.
After winning five of their first six completed matches the Netherlands were unable to win any of their last five, and are likely to finish fifth in Group A.
Injuries, absences and the disruption such problems give rise to have all played their part, but at least there was a period at the Castle Park on Sunday when the home crowd went silent as it seemed that the Dutch might have a chance of successfully chasing their massive target of 315.
Once again there was an enforced change to the original squad, as captain Peter Borren was forced to withdraw after injuring his back in a Topklasse match on Saturday, but on the plus side the Dutch were able to welcome back Stephan Myburgh from injury and Tom Cooper from the Australia A tour, while New Zealander Logan van Beek slotted into the team as the overseas player in place of Werner Coetsee.
Essex, too, were stronger than the side which had been bowled out for 112 at Thurlede in May, with England international Ravi Bopara and Dutch international Ryan ten Doeschate both included in their eleven.
For a short time, after James Foster won the toss and elected to bat, it looked as if a repeat of the Schiedam experience might be on the cards, with Mudassar Bukhari bowling Mark Pettini with the second ball of the game and Bopara falling to a stunning one-handed catch by keeper Wesley Barresi of the same bowler five overs later.
Essex were 29 for two and the Dutch were jubilant, but then the home batsmen took over, putting on a display of aggression in thoroughly favourable conditions which left the Dutch attack in tatters. Tom Westley had already made his intentions clear by reaching 26 off 13 deliveries, including five boundaries, and he went on to make 59 from 40, hitting nine fours and a six in all and adding 63 in a ten-over partnership with Owais Shah which completely transformed the complexion of the game.
He eventually fell to a return catch by Pieter Seelaar off his very first delivery, but Shah continued in company with Ten Doeschate until he was caught by Barresi off Tom Heggelman’s first legitimate ball – stand-in skipper Michael Swart having success with at least some of his bowling changes – and Essex were 135 for four with almost half their overs left.
There was no relief for the Dutch bowlers, as Ten Doeschate and Foster put on another 59 from 47 deliveries, the former reaching his half-century with a big six off Seelaar, who was otherwise the only one to put a brake on the home side’s progress. The left-armer had his revenge three balls later, trapping Ten Doeschate in front, but although Cooper bowled Adam Wheater in the next over Essex were far from finished.
Foster and Graham Napier had taken the total along to 239 by the time they took their powerplay at the start of the 35th over, and although Bukhari removed Napier for a 20-ball 35 immediately after he had smacked him for two fours and a six, Foster and Harbajhan Singh were able to ensure that 53 runs came from those four overs.
That meant that Essex reached 314 for eight, their highest-ever 40-over total, and it was also the first time that the Dutch attack had conceded more than 300 in their three-year CB40 career.
Seelaar was the pick of the bowlers with two for 34 from his eight overs, but the seamers came in for heavy punishment, Bukhari conceding 80 runs for his three wickets and Van Beek also suffering with one for 57 from six, his sole consolation being the wicket of Foster, bowled for a magnificent 48-ball 79, including seven fours and two sixes, off the penultimate deliveries off the innings.
If the Dutch were intimidated by the size of their task Myburgh and Swart gave no hint of it as they went after the Essex bowlers in the initial powerplay, the former in particular hitting out with characteristic freedom and reaching 33 off 23 deliveries before, having hit Harbajhan for one huge straight six, he tried to do it again and was caught by Shah at long off.
Foster used Harbajhan sparingly but very effectively, but Swart and Cooper profited from the remaining bowlers, and they took the total to 120 in the 18th over – well up with the required rate – before Cooper, on 35, attempted an ambitious reverse shot off the Indian Test spinner and found himself given out leg-before.
That was a moment which transformed the game. Barresi hit a return catch to Harbajhan in his next over, and when Swart, having completed a fine half-century, was out LBW to Bopara in the next, the Dutch had slumped to 129 for four.
From that point on the writing was on the wall, although Tim Gruijters showed admirable resistance, batting with a series of partners of whom only Tom de Grooth was able to reach double figures. Wickets fell steadily, Harbajhan removing Bukhari and Seelaar to finish with five for 37 and Tymal Mills picking up Eric Szwarczynski and Van Beek for figures of two for 40.
Gruijters made 32 from 29 deliveries, but when he pulled Bopara to Harbajhan on the square leg boundary it was all over, the Dutch all out for 197. It gave Bopara figures of three for 19, some compensation for his earlier failure with the bat.
It had been a spirited response by the Orange Lions’ top order, but finally Essex proved too strong, and the Dutch campaign, which had promised so much, again ended in disappointment.