The Netherlands fast bowlers played a big role in the team's qualification for the ICC Men's T20 World Cup in Australia, and coach Ryan Campbell is backing them to fire in the main event as well.
The Netherlands won eight out of nine matches in the T20 World Cup Qualifier in Dubai and Abu Dhabi last year to be one of six teams to qualify for Australia. They went on to defeat PNG in the final of the tournament to defend their title.
Their bowling attack, led by captain and left-arm spinner Pieter Seelaar, was central to their success. Three of their bowlers finished among the top seven wicket-takers of the tournament. Seelaar combined with fellow left-arm spinner Roelof van der Merwe, while the pace quartet of Fred Klaassen, Paul van Meekeren, Brandon Glover and Timm van der Gugten was relentless, even as another pacer, Shane Santner, waited on the sidelines.
In a chat with ICC, coach Campbell hailed his bowlers, especially the pacers, for constantly keeping up the pressure on the batsmen during that tournament. "When picking a squad ... we felt the strength of Dutch cricket is our fast-bowling brigade and I wanted to take them all! We've got a big long list!" he explained. "We decided to take five quicks to Dubai.
"Some questioned it. [But] we felt that if get the conditions to suit, that genuine pace, on wickets that wasn't 100% true bounce, was going to be a handful ... We built our team around fast bowlers. We played four at once in some games, which is unheard of on the subcontinent, but something that we really believed in, and that was the difference between us not only qualifying but winning the whole competition."
In Australia, the Netherlands have been drawn alongside Bangladesh, Namibia and Scotland in a "really tough" Group B, with their matches to be played in Hobart. Campbell hopes the conditions will again suit his pacers, enough to "unsettle a few Bangladeshi players". According to him, the pressure will be on Bangladesh.
"People will assume that Bangladesh [can] brush the Associates aside and go forward, but I really believe the pressure will be on Bangladesh," he said. "The beauty of playing in Associate cricket is that we continue to play every match under extreme pressure. If you have a bad tournament, it can cost you your livelihood, your whole programme. Whereas the Full Members don't have to go through that battle very often. I think Scotland, Namibia, ourselves will take it to Bangladesh, put them under pressure."
The Netherlands have set themselves the aim of finishing in the top two of the group, which will confirm their progress to the next stage of the tournament, the Super 12, with the top teams waiting for them. Their preparation has been hit hard by the pandemic, which has seen all their summer fixtures cancelled, but they are striving to keep on top of fitness routines.
"We will do whatever it takes to make sure that we are ready for the World Cup," Campbell said. "Obviously the World Cup is so important, to every country in general, but especially to Associate countries. This is our chance to be on the big stage.
"There is an added incentive this year, if we can make it into the top 12, it guarantees our passage to the next World Cup in India. We see ourselves and this Dutch cricket programme being really important for the next generation of Dutch players so for us to qualify for World Cups is really important, to put a good showing in the Super League is obviously equally important.
"It has been a setback for everyone, but hopefully everyone is staying safe and the safety where applies is the most important thing but come October, we will be ready to go."
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