Long Read: Klaassen excited about Netherlands future

Tuesday 2nd July 2019

Men’s First XI

Long Read: Klaassen excited about Netherlands future

Fred Klaassen starred for the Netherlands as they became only the second Associate Nation to beat a Full Member in a multi-game One Day International series.

The Dutch hosted Zimbabwe in two ODIs and two T20Is, winning the ODI series 2-0, and drawing the T20Is 1-1. In the first ODI, Fred took the new ball and had soon sent both openers packing. Zimbabwe finished on 205-8, with Fred’s figures of 10-1-29-2 contributing to a fine bowling performance from the Dutch.

The chase was a successful one, with the Netherlands winning with four overs to spare. The second ODI was a tighter affair. Fred picked up two wickets again as Zimbabwe scored 291. The chase went down to the wire, but Fred stayed cool and secured victory in the last over.

We sat down with Fred and spoke to him about his experience with the Dutch national team, what the future holds for Dutch cricket, and the wider Associate scene.

Q: You’ve recently won an ODI series for the Netherlands against Full Member nation Zimbabwe. How happy are you to be contributing to the Netherlands’ success?

I think it’s only the second time in history an Associate Member has beaten a Full Member in a multi-game series, so it’s a great achievement for the Dutch team, but also testament to the strength of Associate cricket at the moment.

With Scotland beating England last year, we are happy that we have continued the trend! We are all confident that this is just the beginning though. We qualified for the ICC Cricket World Cup Super League starting next year, where we are guaranteed 24 ODIs against 8 Full Member nations.

The team is going from strength to strength and in our Head Coach, Ryan Campbell, and captain, Pieter Seelaar, we have created a strong and successful culture.

For me personally, it’s great to contribute towards the teams success, but as I said earlier, this is just the beginning.

Q: You mentioned the Cricket World Cup Super League (CWCSL). You must be confident now that you can compete with other Full Members in the competition?

Beating Zimbabwe is a fantastic confidence booster, and a good indication of what we can achieve. That being said, we still need to continue our improvement to compete with other Full Members who are ranked higher.

Everyone associated with Dutch cricket is very excited for the next World Cup cycle, and we all have extremely high expectations of ourselves.

Q: The Netherlands are the only Associate nation in the CWCSL. How excited are you to be representing Associates in the competition?

Extremely excited. We have the opportunity to play the top sides in the world in multi game series. Never have the Netherlands had the opportunity to play that many ODIs in such a short time span. In saying that, other strong Associates such as Scotland and Hong Kong were very unfortunate to miss out.

We feel strongly that it is our duty to represent all Associate nations, in order to show that high quality, competitive International cricket is commonplace outside of the lucky ‘elite’.

Other Associate nations still have a platform for competitive International cricket in the Cricket World Cup Super League 2. Nepal, Scotland, the UAE, Namibia, Oman, Papua New Guinea and the USA will all compete in the Cricket World Cup Super League 2. 126 ODIs will be played in total, with the top three teams qualifying for the 2022 World Cup Qualifying tournament.

Q: Before the CWCSL and CWCSL2 many stakeholders of Associate cricket felt that Associates couldn’t succeed playing so little cricket. The CWCSL’s offer Associates more international cricket.

Do you think this could be the catalyst for a surge in Associate success, on and off the pitch?

Certainly, before the CWCSL, it has been a challenge to improve as a team without the consistent cricket fixtures that other full member nations get. Yes, we were still playing cricket, some of us at counties, some in T20 Franchises, but very rarely together as a national team.

Scotland, for example, have had around four or five days of International cricket a year for the last few years, which, for a team who beat England last year, is no where near enough. Preston Mommsen said it before he retired, and Sikandar Raza said it after the 2018 World Cup Qualifier. We need to play more cricket. There is no good reason to not let us play more cricket. It could come across as teams like Scotland and the Netherlands are being set up for failure by the ICC.

Thankfully the CWCSL’s change this, and while teams like Scotland, Nepal and the USA won’t be playing Full Member nations, the regular competitive ODI cricket they will play between themselves will only better prepare them for any potential Full Member clashes.

Having played in recent T20I and ODI tournaments with Ireland, Scotland and Oman, our skills have had the chance to develop against high quality international sides.

The Dutch side work under a mantra as a “working class team” so it is entirely up to us as individuals to improve.

With the CWCSL providing more games against Full Member nations, we will hopefully get a lot more exposure at home in the Netherlands to grow the game. It would be great to see a surge in youth participation in cricket in the Netherlands as a result of the CWCSL, but also disappointing that we will be the only Associate nation to experience these benefits.

We’re very happy to be hosting England, Ireland, Pakistan and the West Indies in the CWCSL and the local interest that this will stir up will be incredible. Again, it is just very disappointing that other Associate nations will not have the chance to tap into the numerous benefits of hosting these series.

The prospect of upsetting an England or a Pakistan has got us all extremely excited for the competition.

Q: Due to the extremely competitive nature of Associate cricket, do you feel that one representative in the CWCSL is not enough, and that 10 teams in a WC is too few?

Yes. A prime example is Scotland, who have in recent times beaten both England and Afghanistan in ODI’s. They also beat Sri Lanka, in what was, for some reason, not a full ODI, or even a List A game. They, like the Netherlands and almost every other Associate nation, have shown massive improvement in the last couple of years and shown that, given the opportunity, they too can compete, and beat, Full Member nations.

This improvement comes on the back of very few fixtures, which to me shows that with more cricket, Associates will only get better. There will definitely be many more Associate victories over Full Members in multi game series, we just need to be given the chance.

10 teams is too few. I can understand that with every team playing each other, you are going to have a fair overall top four. Cricket seems to be the only sport I can think of that is reducing the amount of teams in its World Cup, though.

Football, for example, is thinking about increasing its World Cup. After all, it is a World Cup, and cricket is played all over the World, from Papua New Guinea to Canada, via Oman and Germany. Sandeep Lamichhane, one of the best white ball bowlers in the world, isn’t bowling at the World Cup, which to me is a great shame.

Spectators love to see an upset. It becomes the talking point of the tournament if a lower ranked team becomes the giant killers. In cricket, the Netherlands beat England in 2014, and Ireland did the same in 2011. Ireland’s win against England could be considered to be one of the main reasons as to why they now play Test cricket. Kenya reached the World Cup semi-final in 2003.

In rugby, Japan shocked South Africa in 2015. Cricket fans are being robbed of these shocks, shocks which can inspire a generation.

The 2018 World Cup Qualifier, contested by four Test nations and six Associate nations, was arguably more competitive, more exciting and better to watch than the World Cup.

Every cricket fan and player, knows the cricket World Cup is the pinnacle of the sport, so taking that away from smaller countries is preposterous to me. The 2023 World Cup is due to be 10-teams as well. This might change, but at the end of the day it is sad and makes you question where the ICC’s priorities lie.

Scotland can beat England, Afghanistan, and Sri Lanka. Oman can beat Scotland. We can beat Oman and Zimbabwe. This just goes to show how competitive, fun, and interesting a World Cup could be.

The current World Cup format isn’t conducive to tournament cricket. It favours the bigger teams who, over more matches, are more likely to win more matches. More teams, smaller groups and more knockout matches would make for a more interesting tournament, instead of catering to the needs of teams like England, India and Australia.

It would have been great for Dutch cricket to be part of this World Cup. I definitely believe right now we would have been in a good space to compete. Unfortunately we aren’t, but hopefully the ICC see the light and add more teams to future World Cups.

Freddie Young & Fred Klaassen

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