Netherlands have had to wait 4 agonising years for getting back their ODI status after they lost the same in the last ICC World Cup Qualifiers event in New Zealand. The loss of ICC funding and ODI status meant that the national players had very little for play for in the past 4 years in the International arena with few rare matches slotted here and there with full members and content with playing only WCL Championship & Intercontinental Cup on a regular basis.
This eventually led to few players calling time on their careers early and few to look for opportunities elsewhere to play professional cricket and maybe, try to relocate to a different country and qualify to play for them.
But at the same time, lot of positive things have also happened. Senior pace bowlers Tim van der Gugten & Paul van Meekeren have excelled in county cricket in the UK, overseas professionals like Roelof van der Merwe relocated back to their country of birth and qualified to play for the national side. Netherlands have also had the services of Logan van Beek, who plies his trade in the domestic competitions in New Zealand. Players like Stephan Myburgh, Ben Cooper, Peter Seelaar & Michael Rippon have established themselves in the national squad and the team started to come together and put on much stronger performances in the past couple of seasons. Add to all this the evergreen Dutch skipper, Peter Borren, who continues to grow in stature as a respected captain across the cricketing globe.
The results?? Netherlands are currently on top of WCL Championship with 18 points and 2 games remaining. Not only have they already secured their ticket to Zimbabwe in March 2018 for the World Cup qualifiers, but the recent ICC decision to implement a 13-team ODI League in which the winners of the WCL Championship will be rewarded with the spot, Netherlands now only have to win 1 match out of their remaining 2 against Namibia to secure the 13th spot.
With Papua New Guinea also capable to clinch the spot, their qualification scenario is a bit tougher as they also lag behind by 2 points and a lot in terms of net run-rate as compared to Netherlands.
The benefits of finishing on top and securing the 13th spot will be exactly what Netherlands need to come back into the fold for race for direct qualification for 2023 ICC Cricket World Cup and also secure both their ODI status and 24 guaranteed ODI’s from 2019-2021 against any of the other 12 Test countries in the league. Also, a big boost in terms of ICC funding will help the cricket board to keep their top players from relocating to other countries and also improve the domestic structure in the country. And with televised coverage of the 24 matches, the potential of earnings will be huge for the KNCB.
The road to redemption begins in the UAE next month with 2 WCL matches against Namibia on the 6th and 8th, followed by ICC World Cup Qualifiers in March 2018 in Zimbabwe. Netherlands might again look to secure the services of Tom Cooper, who has represented them earlier in ICC World T20 events, to play for them.