Home > Features >

Netherlands: The country that does not care about cricket

Netherlands' stunning win against Ireland in the ICC World T20 2014 has gone almost unnoticed by the majority of the people back home © AFP
Netherlands’ stunning win against Ireland in the ICC World T20 2014 has gone almost unnoticed by the majority of the people back home © AFP

The Netherlands cricket team created history in their match against Ireland in the ICC World T20 2014, achieving a run rate of 13.95 per over — unprecedented in any format of cricket. Arunabha Sengupta writes that in spite of this stupendous achievement, cricket remains a neglected sport in the country.

At the other side of the world in Sylhet, Stephan Myburgh, Peter Borren, Wesley Barresi and Tom Cooper had just dealt blows with the willow that had crashed several speed barriers and sunk a shipload of records. The Netherlands had qualified for the ICC World T20 2014 Super 10s with a whirlwind of sixes that had taken the cricket world by storm, the 193 runs in 13.5 overs against Ireland ending up as the fastest rate of scoring in the history of international cricket across all formats.

And yet, as one walked the streets of Amsterdam from the Royal Palace at The Dam to the entertainment area at Leidseplein, the only smiles and celebrations on display were reserved for welcoming the weekend. There was a bounce in the steps of all the Dutchmen who indulged in retail therapy in Kalverstraat, found solace in the flower market of Koningsplein, or even bided their time before regaling themselves with an evening at The Paradiso. But, all that was because it was Friday.

Four years earlier this writer had traced the same path from The Dam to Leidseplein after the Dutch football team had triumphed 2-1 over Brazil at Port Elizabeth in the World Cup quarter-final. The entire city had been dressed up in orange, celebrations had echoed across the low skies, and the overcrowded sports bars had gladly dispensed free beer for the Dutch goals. Huge giant screens had been set up in the Museumplein, for people to gather from the city and suburbs, to catch their national team in the semi-final and final. Almost every Dutch child could be seen on the following days kicking footballs with young, hopeful feet.

But now, as the cricket team created unprecedented history, the nation chugged on merrily, blissfully unaware about the existence of a sport in which the willow strikes the leather. Wesley Snijder had been made a hero for his brace of goals against Brazil, but no such happy fate graced Myburgh and Cooper for the whopping 13 sixes they managed between themselves. Nor did the amber level rise in the Heineken splashing watering holes. The sports bars kept screening tennis and recorded football, and the discussions centered around the UEFA Champions League draw and the injury suffered by Robin van Persie.

Cut to the following morning — the young kids biked their way to Saturday morning football practice. Strapping girls made their way to the sports centres brandishing their hockey sticks. In an obscure corner of the major newspaper, De Telegraaf, a 169-word bulletin informed those who cared enough to look past the football extravaganza: “Cricketers stunten op WK.” Not too many did care. Till now, this news item on the website of the paper has had all of 12 shares on Facebook.

Cricket is not that big a deal in the country

The sport is not new to Netherlands — it was introduced way back in the 19th century by the British soldiers during the Napoleonic Wars. English teams have visited the nation for long, one of the earliest even featured Sir Arthur Conan Doyle — the creator of Sherlock Holmes. The Dutch team travelled to the British Isles frequently enough, and with time also ventured out to Australia and South Africa. Teams from all Test playing countries have come over. However, down the line, the sport has never quite managed to compete in popularity to football and hockey.

There has never been a lack of talent. As early as in 1964, the national team beat a strong Australian side that had been contesting the Ashes in England. In this one innings game played at Den Haag, the Australians were led by Brian Booth and contained Bill Lawry, Norman O’Neill, Garth McKenzie and others. The Dutch had emerged winners by three wickets.

Down the years, there have been many top quality cricketers. However, the sport never quite caught the imagination in the country. The TopKlasse, the HoofdKlasse and the Twenty20 Cup have remained quite ordinary as far as national tournaments are concerned. The premier players of the country have been forced to participate in the domestic tournaments in England, and also in South Africa and Australia. And of course the Indian Premier League and other franchise based Twenty 20 competitions have arrived as additional, often overriding, financial options.

Even a talent as exciting and rare as Ryan ten Doeschate has not been able to kindle the spark of interest in the game. He finally became content to hire himself out, not too keen on turning out for Netherlands any more.

Yes, Friday was huge in the history of Netherlands cricket, a day that saw them achieve something no cricket team had done before. But, once again it has created little reaction in the country. Irrespective of the success in the World T20, the future of cricket in the country does not really look too bright.

To put it in perspective, when this writer informed a Dutch man in a Leidseplein sports bar that the Dutch team had moved to the next round in the World Cup, the answer was, “But, it has not started yet.”

One wonders about the future of cricket in a country where sports fans are not even aware that their team is taking part in a World Cup.

(Arunabha Sengupta is a cricket historian and Chief Cricket Writer at CricketCountry. He writes about the history and the romance of the game, punctuated often by opinions about modern day cricket, while his post-graduate degree in statistics peeps through in occasional analytical pieces. The author of three novels, he can be followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/senantix)

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 20, 2014 (14:30 IST)   at Kolkata

Pakistan vs Australia in UAE, 2014

Oct 22, 2014 (11:30 IST)   at Dubai

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 22, 2014 (19:00 IST)   at Cuttack

Zimbabwe tour of Bangladesh, 2014

Oct 25, 2014 (09:30 IST)   at Dhaka

South Africa tour of New Zealand, 2014

Oct 27, 2014 (03:00 IST)   at Hamilton

More

South Africa tour of New Zealand, 2014

Oct 24, 2014  at Mount Maunganui

South Africa won by 72 runs

South Africa tour of New Zealand, 2014

Oct 21, 2014  at Mount Maunganui

South Africa won by 6 wkts

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 17, 2014  at Dharamsala

India won by 59 runs

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 14, 2014  at Visakhapatnam

Match cancelled

Pakistan vs Australia in UAE, 2014

Oct 12, 2014  at Abu Dhabi

Australia won by 1 run

Photos

Pakistan vs Australia, 1st Test at Dubai

Videos

AB de Villiers praises team after win in 1st ODI

Pakistan hold advantage at stumps on Day 3 of 1st Test against Australia

Asad Shafiq emerges as dependable No 6 for Pakistan

Pakistan vs Australia 2014: Mitchell Johnson shows signs of effectiveness on unhelpful surfaces

South Africa vs New Zealand 2014: Vital for Brendon McCullum to find form quickly

Australia Australia tour of UAE 2014 Australia vs Pakistan Australia vs Pakistan 2014 India New Zealand New Zealand vs South Africa New Zealand vs South Africa 2014 Pakistan Pakistan vs Australia Pakistan vs Australia 2014 South Africa South Africa tour of New Zealand 2014 South Africa vs New Zealand South Africa vs New Zealand 2014

Duleep Trophy 2014: Central Zone lead by 81 runs as North Zone bowled out for 457

Laxmi Ratan Shukla to lead Bengal ODI team

David Warner feels lucky to have equalled Don Bradman’s record

Kapil Dev’s Dev Musco Lighting accused of inflated costs by GCA

VVS Laxman advises budding batsmen to score big hundreds

Pakistan vs Australia 2014: Spin hunt continues for visitors

Sarfaraz Ahmed may have trumped the Akmals as Pakistan’s wicketkeeper-batsman across formats

Don Bradman — even if every chance he ever gave in his career was accepted, he would still remain head and shoulders above the others

Len Hutton’s hundred gets reported as illness

Viv Richards’ 6/41 bowls West Indies to a thrilling victory over India

Fan of the Day

Suraj Gowda

Suraj Gowda

642 Posts | 9 Fans

Virat Kohli's Family Meets Anushka Sharma

Student dies in Finland high school stabbing

Google partners Oxford University to teach machines to think

How to make tamarind or imli packs for hair and skin

Laxmi Ratan Shukla to lead Bengal ODI team

School girl gang-raped in Bengal

International programme in Animal Husbandry

Pavitra Rishta to air its final episode tomorrow

Top Sex Positions: Frog Princess

NGOs pursue education for all

Nokia turnaround since handset unit sale continues, reports $950 million Q3 net profit

Also on cricketcountry.com

Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here