A new era of English Test cricket might be unfolding in engrossing fashion but across the North Sea England’s new-look white-ball unit will have their own chance to make a mark when they play their first series under new coach Matthew Mott in the Netherlands.
For starters, it’s the first bilateral clash between the two teams, having only previously met in global tournaments. The Netherlands have famously defeated England both times the sides have played each other in T20Is – in 2009 and 2014 – and the element of unpredictability will hover somewhere at the back of Eoin Morgan’s mind when the first ball is bowled in Amstelveen on the 19th. In ODI cricket, the Netherlands and England have faced each other only thrice, across three World Cup editions in 1996, 2003, and 2011. All three ended in comfortable England wins.
Led by the venerable Pieter Seelaar, Netherlands haven’t tasted much success in the format of late – they’ve now lost nine games on the trot – but their opponents have also been formidable. Afghanistan – who are on course to qualify automatically for the World Cup – cruised to three wins, as did New Zealand, but West Indies had to work hard for their success, especially in the final ODI earlier this month when Netherlands came within 20 runs of chasing down 309. Even in the second game, they handed over the initiative from seemingly strong positions. They were 101-0 at one point, before folding for 214, and had West Indies on the mat at 60-4, before being trumped by a sixth-wicket partnership worth 118 runs.
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It’s the unfamiliarity that the Netherlands will be looking to bank on though. Colin Ackermann, Timm van der Gugten and Roelof van der Merwe have all stayed back with their respective English county teams. The retirements of Ryan ten Doeschate, Stephan Myburgh, and Ben Cooper are notable absences on the team sheet, but they’ve got enough arsenal to still spring up a surprise. The buccaneering Max O’Dowd – who averages over 40 in ODI cricket – has found a stable opening partner in the teenaged Vikramjit Singh, while Scott Edwards, at three, has also been dependable. Their middle order, however, lacks experience. And that’s where Tom Cooper comes in – he’s returning to the Netherlands fold after six long years. Of all batters with 20-plus innings, the vastly experienced Cooper’s average of 48.80 is among the top 15 of all time. Back in 2019, Australia white-ball captain Aaron Finch touted the possibility of Cooper forcing his way into Australia’s T20 World Cup plans.
On the bowling front, left-arm quick Fred Klaassen is a well established white-ball bowler but he’s likely to be unavailable for the first two games. It will be a blow to the Netherlands: in Kent’s 2021 T20 Blast title win, Klaassen was their second-highest wicket-taker with 19 scalps at 19.63. In 13 ODIs so far, he’s picked up 25 wickets at 18.88, which includes a three-for against New Zealand in April. Klaassen though, had words of praise for Bas de Leede, the 22-year-old all-rounder and son of former cricketer Tim, recently calling him “the best thing coming through Dutch cricket at the moment”.
He’s got Essex’s Shane Snater for company, as well as the left-arm spin of Tim Pringle, the son of Chris, the former Kiwi-Dutch quick. There’s also the experienced Logan van Beek, Netherlands’ second-highest wicket-taker (18 wickets at 25.44) after Klaassen since the beginning of 2019. In the latest Ford Trophy, New Zealand’s domestic List A competition, he was the highest wicket-taker for Wellington, snaring 11 wickets at 24.27.
There are some key points up for grabs in the World Cup Super League, more so for third-placed England than for the bottom-placed Netherlands. England are strong favourites, but there’s still enough depth in this Netherlands side to conjure a surprise or two.
England are odds on favourites to win the series with bet365
Max O’Dowd is 5/2 to be the top run-scorer in the series for Netherlands.
Jason Roy and Jos Buttler are both 2/1 to be the top run-scorer in the series for England
Adil Rashid is 2/1 to be the top wicket-taker in the series for England
Fred Klassen is 3/1 to be the top wicket-taker in the series for Netherlands.