By Anand Vasu in Chittagong
“Embarrassed” Netherlands captain hopes his team will prove its worth in the remaining games in the World T20
The Netherlands captain is a passionate man, serious about his cricket and ready and willing to take responsibility when his team does not live up to the standards it has set for itself.
To watch the Netherlands being bowled out for 39 against Sri Lanka in their ICC World Twenty20 game on Monday (March 24) was a surreal experience, a throwback to times when associate nations had too few opportunities at the highest level and would be soundly thrashed when they came up against top-flight opposition. But times have changed, and those sharpening their knives against the likes of the Netherlands being given a go at the highest level might want to curb their glee for a few more days. The Netherlands know it did itself no favours by setting the wrong kind of records, but it will take the field in its remaining matches looking to knock off a top team.
“Because this was a pretty embarrassing performance, the temptation could be to sit back and go, ‘Oh s**t, let’s just try and get through the rest of the games without making absolute idiots of ourselves.’ For me, that’s not an option,” said Borren, calling a spade a shovel. “I look at our top order and there are guys who can really play, and who have played at this level, World Cups and stuff and performed before. This is the first time in my career, and this is my fourth World Cup, that something like this has happened. I believe in this team and I hope we can show what we’re capable of in the next three games. It won’t be a case of damage limitation. We’re going to try and forget about it.”
Forgetting about it is the wisest thing the team can do in a cricketing sense, for hours of introspection will only tell them one thing: they had their worst nightmare come true at the worst possible time. The challenge, however, is for it to stick to its avowed intention of beating a top team, with South Africa, England and New Zealand to follow. “We don’t have an awful lot of experience at this level, but we’re better cricketers than that. We’re still going to go into games trying to make an upset. Hopefully that will show,” said Borren. “Right now we’re feeling a bit embarrassed. We’ve let down ourselves, first and foremost. But we’ve also let down the other associates a little bit, because we’re representing the other associates here.”
Borren, who admitted that it was simply impossible to send a message out to those in the middle because they were getting themselves out before a message could reach the centre, was blunt in his assessment of what went wrong. “We batted poorly. You have to give yourself a bit of a chance, when you go out there, to assess conditions, assess bowlers, and we didn’t do that. We played too may shots early,” said Borren. “We were 1 for 3, and you can’t leave the lower order to face (Lasith) Malinga and (Ajantha) Mendis, because those two in particular will eat them for breakfast. That’s a job for the top order, who needed to show more responsibility. We got a bit carried away. Anyone can get out early, but it was the way we got out that was poor.”
The last few days have been so up and down that even calling it a rollercoaster ride would be an understatement. However, Borren pointed to the fact that it was not as though the top order had been routed by Malinga and Mendis – something that has happened to much more accomplished batting line-ups – but by Angelo Matthews, who ended with 3 for 16. “I was standing there at the dugout, and at the end of the Power Play, it was 11 for 4. In the last game I walked off at the end of the Power Play at 91 for 1. Yeah, I suppose it’s been a bit of a rollercoaster,” said Borren.
“Sri Lanka are a very good side, but if we had batted like we did today against Ireland, we would have got thrashed. It’s not like we haven’t faced guys bowling 130kmh outswingers before. We just chipped to cover, hit it up in the air, was a bit strange.”
Calling that performance strange was Borren being understated, but it was not long before he summed it up more bluntly. “It was like a slow motion train crash out there watching us bat. It was hard to watch,” he said.
Hard to watch, certainly, but even more difficult to have been a part of. And the manner in which Borren conducted himself after suggested that no stone would be left unturned in ensuring that there was no repeat performance.