A Dutch fight: Just what the Cup needed

23 Feb 2011 by Raj in ICC Cricket World Cup 2011

It doesn’t matter that Netherlands went down to England. What did matter was that the Dutch took the match into the 99th over of the game and it needed some big hitting under pressure from Ravi Bopara and a sensible approach from Paul Collingwood to take them home. As mentioned in an earlier article, not a single game so far in this tournament has gone down to the wire. Okay, even the game in question wasn’t really one that would give anyone a faint heart. But, it did produce a fight and that is exactly what the tournament needs at this stage.

While on the match, one can’t but admire the herculean efforts of Ryan ten Doeschate, who came up with a sensational hundred and a fighting effort with the ball as well, chipping in with two important wickets to keep Netherlands in the chase. Of course ten Doeschate is no mug in international cricket and has been part of the World Cup squad before. But, coming from a minnow team and handling the burden of being the best, most vital member of the side can be quite a tough throne to carry. Nothing seemed to get to ten Doeschate on this day though. He batted like a true champion with all the confidence in the world. Not for a moment when he was at a crease did one get the feeling that the Dutch were short of confidence. The other lowly-placed sides in the team need to take a cue from Netherlands and inspire themselves to better performances.

It was a tribute to ten Doeschate’s efforts that the Dutch managed to give the Englishmen a real scare – so much so that when England eventually managed to pull off the tough win, the Dutch were really hard-broken as they truly believed they could win this one. However, in spite of the loss, no one can take anything away from the Netherlands for the effort that they put in. ten Doeschate apart, there were other Dutch batsmen too who played their part and allowed Netherlands to leave a strong impression on the game. Tom Cooper supported ten Doeschate extremely well in a partnership that actually put England on the back foot. And, towards the end of the innings, quick-fire cameos by Tom de Grooth and Peter Borren swung their bats very smartly to allow the Oranje put up a highly competitive total.

Even in the bowling department, they kept things tight after Andrew Strauss and Kevin Pietersen got England off to a flyer. The fact that Strauss and Pietersen had to go on an all out attack at the start of the innings made it clear that England had a point to prove and that they needed to win this in an handsome manner. However, despite crucial knocks by Ian Bell and Jonathan Trott, the ten Doeschate-led effort with the ball ensured that the Dutch remained in the hunt in spite of England maintaining the upper hand throughout the chase. They kept things extremely tight and, in the end, it was a massive hit as late as the 49th over that sealed the match in England’s favour.

The hard-fought victory notwithstanding, the Englishmen have a lot to ponder upon going into the next game. Their bowling was well below par. A lot was expected of James Anderson and Stuart Broad and it was only Graeme Swann who managed to impress. However, the fielding was atrocious with Swann himself dropping a sitter. They nearly crumbled under pressure. The match ended being a rare instance of the ‘losers’ walking away with all the plaudits and the ‘winners’ getting the brickbats.

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