Netherlands star O’Dowd determined to bring smile to face of absent coach Campbell

Max O'Dowd NED
Netherlands star Max O’Dowd is determined to give absent head coach Ryan Campbell a World Cup in his homeland to look forward to as his side prepare for the ICC Men's T20 World Cup Qualifier B.

Campbell, who has been the Dutch head coach since January 2017, will not be with the squad in Zimbabwe as he continues his recovery from a heart attack in April that left him in a week-long coma.

The 50-year-old was discharged in May and will be cheering on from home as the Netherlands take on former team Hong Kong, among others, in Group B knowing victory could see them head to Australia, his birthplace, for the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2022, with two spots up for grabs.

And O’Dowd sees success next week as the perfect chance to repay the 50-year-old's contribution to the team.

“It was a very difficult time, made even tougher because just a couple of weeks before we had been with him in New Zealand playing in the ODI series,” opening batter O’Dowd recalled.

“Then we were back in the Netherlands and he's not there, he's in a coma. That was a very scary thought for everyone and from what we were hearing about the damage that could have been done, it was very frightening.

“We were all so pleased that Ryan did come out of the coma because we were hearing it was touch and go. It was tough for the playing group, but taking it all in, we realised how important he is for Dutch cricket. I'm just glad that he's back amongst the fold.

“Obviously he's not with us in Zimbabwe but he's been a huge part of the last five years. It would mean a lot for all of us to qualify for Australia and hopefully take him with us to a World Cup in Aussie.

“We've got a lot of young guys for whom it would be their first World Cup if we were to qualify and it would be an amazing experience.

“We’ve had some amazing experiences over the last couple of months, playing against England and the West Indies, but a World Cup would be the top of their list. There are exciting times ahead, and we just hope we can pull it off because it's going to be very tough.”

O’Dowd and his side begin their campaign for a fourth successive World Cup appearance on July 11 against Papua New Guinea, before facing the side Campbell represented in 2016. And while former South African international Ryan Cook has stepped in as interim coach, the Netherlands will be tapping into Campbell’s knowledge of Hong Kong.

O’Dowd added: “I think Cambo has been sitting on the sidelines itching to get back involved. It’s obviously great to have him just back in the fold and he's someone that we talk to regularly.

“He's been slowly working his way back into practices and team meetings and so on. He's got a lot of knowledge about that Hong Kong team and someone we turn to quite often about certain bowlers, certain batters.

“I think the last time I played them may have been 2018 or even before that, so I think the side has changed a lot since then.

“But he probably knows a lot about them, so we'll be sure to make use of all the info Cambos got for us.”

The Netherlands end the group stages against Uganda and will hope to have done enough to advance to the knockout stages as they search for a third consecutive qualifier tournament win.

O’Dowd has been in fine form in orange recently, scoring four ODI half-centuries in his past five matches against England and the West Indies.

Last year, the 28-year-old became the first Dutchman to hit a century in T20Is, crashing 133 not out off 73 balls against Malaysia.

But those returns have not been good enough for the right-hander's high standards.

“I've done well, I've scored some runs. I guess it's been okay,” O’Dowd said. “If I look at myself, I quite like to be critical of my performances.

“There are a few times where I’ve thrown away, in my opinion, hundreds and especially in that last ODI against the West Indies I think I threw away a chance to win the game.

“But I’m happy to be performing consistently against the best in the world, which is a key thing and something that I strive towards.

“Moving into the T20s now, it's trying to adapt my game and trying to expand on a couple of things, be a bit more fearless playing the T20 format, so it's very exciting.” 

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