Criticism, of course, always entails success. The Netherlands, so often whipping boys in the Clydesdale Bank 40, have finally found the form that has been lurking for a few years now. And so after another comprehensive victory yesterday, the Dutch sit 6 points clear at the top of pool A and now the dissenting voices are louder than ever.
There are currently two angles of attack. The first, and certainly the most important, is the news of rumoured complaints by certain counties about the involvement of the Dutch in the one day competition. This follows an often overlooked suggestion in the Morgan Review whereby Scotland, the Unicorns and the Netherlands are cut from future one day tournaments to ease fixture congestion for the counties. The most recent news, reported in The Cricket Paper, does not specify what it is exactly that is causing consternation amongst county chairmen but there are a few possible motives.
The first, is money. County finances are a complex matter but the fact remains that affluence is a commodity of very few counties. A 3 day, 2 night trip to Amsterdam for a squad plus back up staff and kit, though appealing, will of course carry substantial expenses. But hold on a moment. Each year a trip across the channel only applies to the six counties drawn in the same group as the Netherlands, and then it is only a single trip. Is it these six counties that are complaining?
Even if it is, then their argument remains baseless. These are the counties that each and every March seek warmer climes to begin pre-season training. The UAE and Barbados are favoured destinations. If you choose to spend money on these (let’s face it, slightly extravagant) trips then you must be expected to participate in a shorter, closer journey that is part of the domestic calendar. There should be no excuses.
The second line of thought, though slightly tongue in cheek but still must be considered, is that the counties are protesting in light of the Netherlands’ success. This is the English domestic competition after all, and the sight of the Mound Stand teeming in jubilant orange come September may not sit too well with some.
Moving on from the potential financial aspects of the Dutch involvement, tournament success has brought out the tedious nationality jibes from some county fans. Yes, the likes of Stephan Myburgh, Tom Cooper, Peter Borren and Micky Swart weren’t born in the Netherlands but like all cricketers they must abide by the ICC qualification rules and so their participation should not be questioned. Sure, there is a valid argument that these regulations are not fully correct but rules are rules. And, just like the counties they are allowed one overseas player, Cam Borgas.
The involvement of the Netherlands in the 40 over league has a multitude of benefits that are threatened by in all honesty the selfishness of their hosts. Their side may not consist of eleven born and bred Dutchmen but the likes of Pieter Seelaar are improving rapidly with the involvement of players such as Cooper in the side. If you improve the quality of those representing the national side, then those on the periphery can only improve themselves with time.
A side meeting the county setup’s ‘ideal’ of eleven Dutch club cricketers would get slaughtered game in game out, and would be of no benefit to either party involved. Providing a tournament for the Netherlands to play quality opposition regularly holds a link between an associate and a test side that is all too rare in cricket. Take that link away on the flawed basis of saving money and cricket will be much poorer for it.
Article by Josh Taylor