Ben Cooper (left) and Pieter Seelar pose for a picture with scoreboard    Twitter (@bencooper_32)
Ben Cooper (left) and Pieter Seelar pose for a picture with scoreboard Twitter (@bencooper_32)

Netherlands middle-order batsman Ben Cooper went emotional after drawing their clash against Babar Hayat-led Hong Kong in the ICC Intercontinental Cup 2015-16-17. This was the first First-Class (FC) match on Hong Kong soil. The record partnership between Cooper and Pieter Seelaar for Netherlands changed the fortune for the visiting side. Batting first, Hong Kong declared after posting 527 and in reply, Netherlands were bowled out for 284. After gaining the lead of 243 runs, Hong Kong added 263 more to the total and set Netherlands a target of 507.

The target was surely a huge one but Cooper s heroic knock of unbeaten 173 runs alongside Seelar s 138 not out which helped them in drawing the contest on the final day of the match. A report from ESPNCricinfo mentions that Cooper stated this draw as a big relief and burst out his emotions by saying, “For me it was a big relief. It had been the first time I had batted for such a period. I was just relieved and very tired but it was special to have been able to produce that performance and hold on for the draw. It’s been something that the Dutch have been working towards and being able to perform on the four-day game and put those big scores together, we’ve now proven to ourselves that we can. So we can take the forward with confidence into future games.”

The partnership of unbeaten 288 runs between Cooper and Seelaar is now the highest stand for 6th wicket in the history of ICC Intercontinental Cup and 6th highest for any wicket. This partnership broke the 13-year old record set by the Irish pair Andre Botha and Alex Cusack of 234 runs for 6th wicket. Talking about his record breaking partnership, Cooper said, “It’s a special thing. It’s something you don’t think is possible but you just have to apply yourself and when you get in you just have to make the most of it. To be able to set a record along with Pieter Seelaar is something very special. The first job at hand is to bat and to produce for your team. Anything second to that, such as partnership records and personal records, is a bonus.”

Cooper s brilliant knock was rewarded with Man of the Match award. This was his only second First-Class game. He made his debut way back in September 2015 against Scotland at home, where he scored only 23 and 0. Playing his second game after a long time, Cooper opened up about his preparations as he added, “It’s a tough one because there’s not a whole lot of four-day cricket around for Netherlands but I guess you just have to back your training. You go to training and mentally prepare there. I try to bat as long as I can at training to simulate batting for an extended period in a four-day competition. But I guess it’s just a mental thing. You prepare yourself mentally to fight it out and you know you’ve got time so you don’t have to chase so many balls outside off.”

Further, Cooper also spoke about his partner Seelaar s knock, whom he kept backing throughout the day and added, “I think his reaction when he scored his hundred, and the celebration he had, was enough to say how relieved he was. I backed him all the way. He’s a class batsman although he may not have been recognised before. But I’m very happy for him to have ticked that off and to have proved that he is a batsman and not just a bowler.”