Their time in the ODI Super League made the Dutch raise their game. They pulled off major wins at the World Cup Qualifiers. Now they're looking to go further
"When you know you are going to #CWC 2023" was the caption for an ICC social post early last July, featuring pictures of jubilant Netherlands players celebrating their win against fellow Associate Scotland at the ICC World Cup Qualifier in Bulawayo.
When I spoke to Scott Edwards, Netherlands' captain, for this feature earlier in September, I asked him to look at those pictures, which captured the raw emotions of the players at the end of a must-win match for both teams.
Edwards went quiet momentarily, but then his already smiling face stretched a bit more with joy as his mind wandered back to that ecstatic afternoon in Zimbabwe when Bas de Leede broke Scottish hearts with an all-round performance that put him in the record books next to Viv Richards. "It gives me a little bit of chills looking at it," Edwards said.
Edwards' team needed to shoot down the target of 277 inside 44 overs. With 170 more needed in 20 overs, and then 102 in the final ten, Dutch hopes were hanging on de Leede, who had taken a five-for earlier in the game. The son of former Dutch allrounder and three-time World Cupper Tim, de Leede then proceeded to make the world sit up, with a nerveless century to take Netherlands through - the only Associate in a World Cup that is otherwise an exclusive club of Full Members.
"The opportunity to play in a World Cup is something that a lot of these guys would have dreamed of," Edwards said. "For it to be in a game after we'd had our best chase ever a week before [the win against West Indies] and to go and almost top that on a tricky wicket, it was emotional…"
This is the fifth ODI World Cup for Netherlands, where the cricket-playing community has remained more or less static for over the last three decades, hovering around the 5000-6000 mark. Still, the Dutch have been among the top Associate teams for most of that span - thanks in no small part to spirited guiding lights like Roland Lefebvre, Ryan ten Doeschate, Peter Borren, and former head coach Ryan Campbell, all of whom have inspired young Dutch players like de Leede to shine in turn.
India-bound: Scott Edwards (left) and his crew soak it all in after the win against Scotland in June that took them through to the World Cup
Albert Perez / © ICC/Getty Images
India-bound: Scott Edwards (left) and his crew soak it all in after the win against Scotland in June that took them through to the World Cup Albert Perez / © ICC/Getty Images
The 1996 World Cup was the first one for the Dutch. They failed to qualify for the next edition but played in the next three, 2003, 2007 and 2011, and then missed the next two, including 2019, which too was a ten-team tournament, like this year's.
Nothing is permanent in the life of an Associate team. On January 23, 2014, Netherlands lost their ODI status after losing against Kenya in the final match of the Super Sixes of the World Cup Qualifier for the 2015 tournament.
Exactly a year later they won the World Cricket League Division Two title, and late in 2017, they would win the World Cricket League Championship to regain ODI status and qualify for the first (and last) ODI Super League, created by the ICC to impart greater context to bilateral ODI series and provide equal opportunities to all teams. Being in the Super League also gave Netherlands a shot at making it to the 2023 World Cup, and it assured them 24 matches in the two-year period leading up to that tournament.
Netherlands won just three of those 24 games - two against Ireland and one against Zimbabwe. With a bit of pluck and luck they could have won more, maybe even a series, against bigger countries.
Still, their learnings from the Super League experience have been immense, and will have contributed to their getting to the Super 12s of the T20 World Cup last year, where they beat South Africa and Ireland and where Max O'Dowd was second behind Virat Kohli on the list of leading run-scorers. At the ODI World Cup Qualifier this year, Netherlands shone. They beat West Indies in a thriller that went to the Super Over, where Logan van Beek etched his name in the record books, hitting a boundary off each ball of the Super Over. That performance was matched for impressiveness by de Leede against Scotland ten days later.
Coach Ryan Cook: "Part of our self-image was that we saw ourselves as Associate nations and therefore would play according to that self-image. That needed to change"
Coach Ryan Cook: "Part of our self-image was that we saw ourselves as Associate nations and therefore would play according to that self-image. That needed to change" © KNCB
"That whole Super League was one big turning point," de Leede said. "It might have been a very slow turn and a very long turn, but it definitely has shown us what we are capable of."
In the final ODI of the series against England in Amstelveen last year, de Leede hit a fifty.
"Two or three years ago, I didn't think I was ever going to play against England. And then actually play against them and do okay was quite good for my confidence. When you come from a smaller cricketing nation, having played all your cricket against other smaller nations, you are always wondering if you are good enough to play against the best. For me, that was a good thing [to find out I can] actually do all right and perform against probably the best white-ball team in the world at the moment."
The Super League gave Netherlands a sense of belonging that has grown in strength over time. Edwards believes they are now better at planning match situations and focusing on match-ups and not freezing in the headlights.
"If we hadn't had the Super League, all of a sudden you just go into a World Cup, it's this massive event and you might only play three games. So those are your three opportunities to feel like you belong at that next level. So for us to have 24 chances of playing against all these teams, and through that time you could go through our list - everyone would have stood up in those games in some form or another. We had New Zealand 30 for 5, we had two good opportunities to beat Pakistan in the Netherlands last summer. Put it all together and that's built a belief in this group.
"Being able to play so much more cricket in the last 18 months has also made it a lot easier for us to build our gameplan, whether that's in T20s or in ODI cricket. We have those structures in place now that when we go into a game, like we did against West Indies, and you're chasing 370, you look around the group and it's not as if guys are stunned, thinking it's game over. Guys are there thinking, 'Okay, how are we going chase this?' When I first came onto the scene and we hadn't played a lot of Full Members at that stage, you just didn't have that belief as much."
Fly, Dutchmen, fly: a fan at the T20 World Cup in Australia last year, where Netherlands scored a win against South Africa
Mark Brake / © ICC/Getty Images
Fly, Dutchmen, fly: a fan at the T20 World Cup in Australia last year, where Netherlands scored a win against South Africa Mark Brake / © ICC/Getty Images
Talk to any Dutch player, or the top brass of the Koninklijke Nederlandse Cricket Board (KNCB), including Lefebvre, who is the high-performance manager, and a name that comes up repeatedly is that of the Dutch head coach, Ryan Cook.
Cook was contacted by the KNCB after long-term head coach Campbell suffered series of cardiac arrests in April 2022 and subsequently stepped down. Cook, whose father Jimmy and older brother Stephen are both former South African openers, is a product of the Gary Kirsten school of thought.
In 2013, on a South Africa Under-19 tour of India, Cook, that side's assistant coach at the time, sought Kirsten's inputs on behalf of the captain, Yaseen Valli. Cook says Kirsten, who famously paired with MS Dhoni as India's coach to win the 2011 World Cup, sent him a "very long and detailed email" that floored him. It eventually led to Kirsten inviting Cook to work with him at his cricket academy in Cape Town, and the two have had a strong bond ever since.
Cook said he subscribes to Kirsten's coaching philosophy of putting players first. "At the end of the day the player has to walk out with the required skill, and us as coaches are there to try and co-achieve with those players. It is very much a questioning approach and a curious approach, where we are able to [create] environments in such a way that people flourish to become their best selves."
Like Edwards, Cook, who started as interim head coach with Netherlands in May last year before assuming a long-term role, talks of how important the Super League has been. "We learned our lesson - if we get ourselves into a winning position, what that might look like and how we would try and take that home," he said. "That's what we saw a little bit in the Qualifiers - the learnings of that, of trying to get yourself into a winning position, play consistently good cricket, which was a struggle in the Super League, and then be able to capitalise upon those strong positions as and when they arise."
Netherlands now have the plans, confidence and nerve to go toe to toe with the big teams in high-pressure moments
Alex Davidson / © ICC/Getty Images
Netherlands now have the plans, confidence and nerve to go toe to toe with the big teams in high-pressure moments Alex Davidson / © ICC/Getty Images
Barely had Cook taken charge when Netherlands were unsettled by England in the first match of their June 2022 series. Phil Salt, Dawid Malan and Jos Buttler made a century each as England missed becoming the first team to breach 500 runs in ODI or List A cricket by two runs. They still posted the highest total in the format, though. It rained records on that clammy Friday afternoon at the tiny ground: nine Kookaburras were lost, several dropped on the hospitality tent, pavilion roof, river bank, and even the neighbouring hockey Astroturf surface.
When they prepared for the series, Cook told his side that England were a powerhouse in every aspect of the game, so the best thing to do was to enjoy and learn. "The general message to the boys was: this is very much acoustic cricket that we play and [England] are used to be playing on the main stage with big crowds and big supporters. We must just go and play our sort of acoustic cricket, and hopefully that'll be good enough."
While Netherlands managed just 266, they learned some important lessons. Cook and some of his players spoke to their England counterparts, discussing the Dutch bowling attack, and considering England's insights into the Dutch batters' games.
De Leede, who signed a two-year contract recently with Durham, is familiar to and with several England players. "I mainly spoke to the [England] batters about what they think when they are batting, what they think before they go out to bat," he said.
"How they see the game was different to how I saw it back then. It's just the intensity they play at - it doesn't matter for them if it's the first ball down - if it's a half-volley, they'll pump you for four or six. They back themselves so much whether it's the first ball or the 60th or the 100th ball they face. As for bowling, they were so structured, which is the main thing I took away."
Netherlands did not beat England or win a series in the Super League, but they now have the plans, confidence and nerve to battle the big teams in high-pressure moments. That is what exposure does.
Dual role: Bas de Leede turned in one of the great all-round performances in ODI history to beat Scotland in the World Cup Qualifiers
Albert Perez / © ICC/Getty Images
Dual role: Bas de Leede turned in one of the great all-round performances in ODI history to beat Scotland in the World Cup Qualifiers Albert Perez / © ICC/Getty Images
At the 2022 T20 World Cup, Cook initiated a move aimed at getting the Netherlands players to treat themselves as equals regardless of whether the opposition was a Full Member or not. Once Netherlands made it past the first stage, Cook said his players had to stop looking at themselves as Associates.
"I brought a quote to the guys: 'You cannot consistently outperform your self-image.' Part of that self-image was that we saw ourselves as Associate nations and therefore would play according to that self-image. That needed to change. If we kept seeing ourselves as Associates, we were going to perform like Associates more consistently.
"I didn't ban the word, but I said, 'I don't want to hear that in any more press conferences.' Scott, as well, wanted us to become a team that saw themselves as equals going up against any team, [and] if we played good cricket on the day, then we could beat them.
"We don't want to be a hope dealer, saying 'Hope these guys don't play well, and then we have a blinder and then we can beat them.' We want to try and go in there saying, 'We are well prepared, we can beat these guys if we play good cricket.' Ultimately that's what Associate-nation language didn't allow us to do. The guys say that it's a bit of a swear word in the dressing room now because we see ourselves as a team that can compete, and we shouldn't put a label on what we are and what we are not."
"We see ourselves as an equal. We have the same ambitions," Edwards said.
Much of the credit for this change in attitude and outlook should go to Tom Dawson-Squibb, the performance coach hired by Cook last year before the T20 World Cup.
There has been an increased emphasis on training in the Netherlands set-up in recent times
Albert Perez / © ICC/Getty Images
There has been an increased emphasis on training in the Netherlands set-up in recent times Albert Perez / © ICC/Getty Images
In his conversations with the Dutch players, Cook received feedback that a key resource smaller teams don't have access to is a mental-conditioning coach. On his website, Dawson-Squibb says that he helps "teams, coaches and athletes in developing the winning behaviours and mindsets that lead to them becoming the best version of themselves, as well as gaining results".
Having him on board has made a difference to the team, Cook said, and in shaping "what we are seeing now as the way in which the Dutch play, and [in shaping] how the team goes about our business, both on the field and off the field and the behaviours that one would see within the Dutch team".
Ahead of the series in Zimbabwe in March this year, Dawson-Squibb organised a culture camp in Cape Town. He also worked with the squad during the preparatory camp just before the World Cup Qualifiers. Edwards, who also had one-on-one sessions with Dawson-Squibb before last year's T20 World Cup, said the coach focused on asking questions about what sort of team the Dutch were, what sort of team they wanted to be, and on how they could reach the goals they aspired to.
"That's been a massive learning for me as a player, but probably more so in the leadership factor," Edwards said. "I don't think he necessarily tells me how to do it, but he'll ask a lot of tough questions. And then I've just got to figure out those answers for myself - what sort of leader I want to be, what sort of leader, I suppose, the guys deserve.
"The thing I was most proud of myself from a leadership side is how well the other guys did. You look around the group of 16 guys and throughout the tournament [Qualifiers], everyone stepped up and everyone had performances or everyone did things off the field that made positive impacts."
On September 7, at the media briefing to talk about the World Cup squad, Cook declared Netherlands' team goal was to reach the semi-finals.
It is not unprecedented for an Associate to go that far: Kenya reached the last four in the 2003 World Cup. (There were 12 teams in contention in the group phase then, followed by the Super Sixes. This time each team will play nine matches, with the top four contesting the semis.)
Netherlands cannot afford to put all, or even most, of their players on full contracts. Max O'Dowd (left) is one of four players who have a central contract. Paul van Meekeren (right) has a county contract in England and divides his time between playing there and for Netherlands
Paul Kane / © Getty Images
Netherlands cannot afford to put all, or even most, of their players on full contracts. Max O'Dowd (left) is one of four players who have a central contract. Paul van Meekeren (right) has a county contract in England and divides his time between playing there and for Netherlands Paul Kane / © Getty Images
When I spoke to Cook a few days later, he admitted it was a "very lofty goal", but the team's progress in the last year has allowed him to set that target. "We could rock up there and say we just want win one or two games and let it be a flash-in-the-pan victory, which maybe previously has been the case."
In August last year, in the three-match home series against Pakistan, Netherlands fell short of the target by 17 runs in the first ODI, and then lost by nine in the final match. Before that, in June, in the final ODI of the home series against West Indies, they lost by 20 runs.
The most painful loss, though, was the one-run defeat against Zimbabwe this March in the second match of the away series. Netherlands had started with a three-wicket win and were primed for their first away series win against a Full Member opposition.
It is important to "win small to win big", Cook said. The goal of getting to the World Cup semis was on the road map drawn at the Cape Town culture camp. "We spoke about the aspirations of the team, where it's leading in the next little while. One of those ambitions was to win an away series in the Super League. We were one run away from doing that in Zimbabwe.
"I always feel like people move better towards what they want rather than what they don't want. By keeping that goal out in front of them on a regular basis, we get the best out of the players who are looking to achieve more out of playing for the Netherlands."
Paul van Meekeren, the Netherlands fast bowler, was in Bristol when we spoke, days away from driving to Amsterdam to join the Netherlands squad, who flew to India on September 19. Van Meekeren's partner was pregnant, and though the baby is due only in early 2024, he wanted to ensure she could relax when he is in India. So along with his regular fitness and training and packing his bags, he was also busy cleaning house and getting various other little tasks out of the way.
Netherlands' World Cup history extends back to 1996, their first tournament, which featured the likes of Tim de Leede, father of current international Bas. De Leede Sr made 41 against England in Peshawar
Zafar Ahmed / © Associated Press
Netherlands' World Cup history extends back to 1996, their first tournament, which featured the likes of Tim de Leede, father of current international Bas. De Leede Sr made 41 against England in Peshawar Zafar Ahmed / © Associated Press
One of most experienced Dutch bowlers, van Meekeren was not at the World Cup Qualifiers, having had to put county before country. On July 6, when de Leede secured Netherlands their spot at the World Cup, van Meekeren was playing a match for Gloucestershire 2nd XI. He had watched the game against West Indies on a glitchy web stream. In the Scotland match, by the time Netherlands started their chase, van Meekeren was bowling on the final day against Kent 2nd XI. At one point he was told Netherlands had won their game, but he thought his team-mates were messing with him. Back in the dressing room, he pulled the scorecard up on his phone. "This is amazing," he remembered saying out loud. "How has this happened?"
In the days leading up to the announcement of the Netherlands World Cup squad, van Meekeren asked himself if he belonged among the 15. He felt there were other players who deserved the spot, for all the hard work they had put in before and during the Qualifer, and that it would be cruel to leave them out. Did he make himself available? Was that fair? Those questions haunted him, not just Cook and the selectors.
Van Meekeren is part of the group of players who have county contracts, which allow them to be professional cricketers. Currently Edwards, O'Dowd, Teja Nidamanuru and Vivian Kingma have central contracts from the KNCB for 2023. The majority of the other players, outside of those plying their trade on the county circuit, have day jobs.
"It's not like you didn't want to go to the Qualifier, but you have to also think of your career and your job," van Meekeren said. "Unfortunately, we don't have that set-up in the Netherlands yet where there's a guaranteed income out of cricket. Yeah, we've got a captain's contract, which is a full-time contract, but then the other guys are on a small retainer. And then it just depends on how much cricket we play, if you can make a living out of it. We never know how much cricket we are playing."
Outside of the ODI World Cup, Netherlands currently have just one bilateral series scheduled before the T20 World Cup next June - three T20Is at home in May 2024 against Pakistan. After the Qualifier last June, they have had zero cricket. Cook even put out a social post immediately after they had qualified for the World Cup, pleading for international teams to play Netherlands.
We'll paint Bulawayo orange: Netherlands celebrate making it to the World Cup
Johan Rynners / © ICC/Getty Images
We'll paint Bulawayo orange: Netherlands celebrate making it to the World Cup Johan Rynners / © ICC/Getty Images
"If I want to commit to the Dutch team, I need a job on the side," van Meekeren said. "And why would I sacrifice a job in [county] cricket to play cricket [for Netherlands], and then have a job on the side? That doesn't make sense."
Van Meekeren comes from Amsterdam and learned his cricket watching his dad, who played in Haarlem, to the west of the city. He honed his skills climbing through the age-group categories before making his debut in 2013. Three years later he moved to the UK to play county cricket so he could sustain himself independently playing the game. He is happy that several more Dutch-bred players are now making the national team. Saqib Zulfiqar, Vikramjit Singh, Shariz Ahmad and Aryan Dutt, to name a few, van Meekeren said have shown local Dutch talent has potential, but they need exposure and financial support to make it.
In 2020, van Meekeren and Edwards launched the Dutch Cricketers' Association. While Edwards has taken a step back from his role with the body, given he has his captaincy duties to focus on, van Meekeren has continued to look after player welfare, with support from Nidamanuru, the Indian-born Dutch batter. Winning games in World Cups, van Meekeren said, will not only make headlines for Dutch cricket but also help KNCB rope in more sponsors, which can, in turn, result in enlarging the contracts pool. "We are not expecting 15 guys to be contracted, but if we can get five to ten full-time contracts, where guys actually can make a living off it, then that will be a very big step forward for Dutch cricket."
Lefebvre, 60, knows the plight of Associate players better than most, having experienced it all himself first-hand as an international cricketer in the late 1990s and early 2000s. These days he approaches those problems from a different angle, as the KNCB's high-performance manager, tackling challenges relating to finances, player availability, fixtures and scheduling, and support staffing.
For an Associate like Netherlands, he said, every match has a price. "The challenge for us is that we are all the Associate countries, who are always struggling for finance, because it all depends on whether you qualify or not. And all the matches you play, there is something at stake. You go up, you go down, you qualify or you don't qualify. Those kind of pressures Full Member countries don't have, because they get their annual ICC fee, which runs into the millions. In the case of India, in the hundreds of millions. And they [Full-Member teams] don't have to do anything - they can lose every match, but you still have your Full-Member status, which never goes.
"We had an incredible [T20] World Cup in Australia, where we ended eighth, which secured direct qualification for the 2024 World Cup. But after the '24 World Cup, it's back to square one, where [we need to] hope that we do well again, that we have direct qualification. There's always something like that hanging above us."
Former player and current high-performance manager Roland Lefebvre has his eye on the big picture: "It's not only performance that runs cricket in the Netherlands - we also have [to look at] participation. We can't just funnel all the money to high performance"
Kerry Marshall / © Getty Images
Former player and current high-performance manager Roland Lefebvre has his eye on the big picture: "It's not only performance that runs cricket in the Netherlands - we also have [to look at] participation. We can't just funnel all the money to high performance" Kerry Marshall / © Getty Images
The Dutch have been walking, in Lefebvre's words, "an incredibly fine line". The consequences if they had not made it through the Qualifiers would have been far greater than for West Indies, Zimbabwe or Ireland, who all failed to make the World Cup cut. Being Full Members, those teams will continue to get their sizeable annual payouts from the ICC.
The KNCB received about US$1.2 million from the ICC per year between 2021 and 2023, the time they were in the Super League. Lefebvre didn't know how much the board will receive going forward, now that the league no longer exists. In the previous cycle of the ICC's commercial rights, 2017 through 2023, Associate nations ranked between Nos. 14 and 20 got approximately $600,000 each, he says, to help them play in the World Cricket League. That number is based on a method devised by the ICC that evaluates teams on several parameters. Lefebvre said even if that allocation were to climb to $1 million going forward, it wouldn't be enough.
"What is required to compete at the highest level?" he asked.
"You have to contract players, you have to give them some form of security. You have to have a support-staff team, which is there all the time, looking after players. And not just one coach and a physio and a strength and conditioning coach.
"We need access to players. So that means that when we play our meaningful matches, our important matches, we have access to our best players. At the moment we have eight guys in England - in winter times they are mostly available, but in summer they are mostly not."
"If you want to perform at the highest level, you have to train every day. Fitness is an incredibly important component. We have to look after our players. But at the same time, it's not only performance that runs cricket in the Netherlands - we also have [to look at] participation. We can't just funnel all the money to high performance."
All kitted out and looking to party: (from left) Ryan Klein, Kyle Klein, Teja Nidamanuru, Max O'Dowd and Scott Edwards model the team's new uniforms
© Gray Nicolls via KNCB
All kitted out and looking to party: (from left) Ryan Klein, Kyle Klein, Teja Nidamanuru, Max O'Dowd and Scott Edwards model the team's new uniforms © Gray Nicolls via KNCB
The KNCB is looking ahead to signing a contract with a long-term sponsor, but for now, Lefebvre is pleased that the Dutch will be among the best-dressed squads in the World Cup; local fashion company Van Uffelen signed a two-year deal to provide the players with leisure wear earlier this month. "This deal is just to make us look smart, to look the part not only on the field, but also off the field. We are going be looking good on the field and off the field," Lefebvre said with a smile. "If you can't play cricket, that's, that's one thing. But at least look good - look like a cricketer!"
"We try and focus on what we have, not what we don't have," Cook said. "We try and focus on what we can do, not what we can't do. We try and focus on what things we are willing to do that other teams won't be willing to do. And that's, sort of, our competitive advantage, I believe, in many ways. And that's how we try and prepare, where we focus on the things that we are good at, and we try and double down as much as we can on those things."
The second time I spoke to Cook, he had been up from about 4am, having gone to sleep late the previous night. As the only full-time coach employed by KNCB, he had to perform multiple roles before the team left for India. He said he was lucky to have a set of assistant coaches, Ryan van Niekerk, Heino Kuhn and Shane Burger, who worked virtually full time despite not having any contracts.
Belying his rough schedule, Cook bubbled with energy. He told me of the unenviable task he had of browsing through over 10,000 applications sent in in response to a KNCB advertisement on social media recently asking for net bowlers for Netherlands' World Cup preparatory camp in Bangalore. Eventually, with the help of Ludimos, a Dutch tech start-up dealing with coach and player development using analytics and artificial intelligence, four Indian net bowlers - all left-armers - were picked.
Cook admitted he has had a lot on his plate recently, especially in terms of ensuring his players can get as much help and exposure to Indian conditions as possible. Before the World Cup squad was announced, he travelled to Bangalore with some of the players, including Edwards, for a week-long batters' and spinners' camp that was organised with the help of the Karnataka State Cricket Association.
The players had three sessions at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium and then training sessions at the KSCA grounds in Alur, Andhra Pradesh, close to the border with Karnataka. The weather was changeful and the pitch behaviour also varied as a result, which Cook said was fantastic because it provided the players with valuable first-hand information and learnings.
For Cook the camp was important not just for the sake of preparation for the World Cup but also for the long-term growth and understanding of the players. "It was one of the best camps I was part of," he said. "It just goes to show what intense time training can do in terms of developing players. I think the progression and the learning and the growth that we saw just in those couple of days was exponential."
Netherlands have been back in Bangalore since September 19 for a preparatory camp that ran through to the middle of this week. They then have two warm-up matches - against Australia today, and India next week, before their first World Cup game proper, in Hyderabad on October 6 against Pakistan.
Among Netherlands' more recent feats of giant-killing was their win over South Africa in last year's T20 World Cup
© Getty Images
Among Netherlands' more recent feats of giant-killing was their win over South Africa in last year's T20 World Cup © Getty Images
For Cook, the World Cup is about his team putting a marker down to be reckoned as one of the top white-ball nations in the world. "If we can put up good competition and get some wins under our belt and finish in the top part of that table, it'll show us as a credible force in white-ball cricket."
Van Meekeren reckoned the Dutch have a stronger squad now than they did even in the Super League. "Hopefully, with a little bit of more experience that we've got now, we can upset a few teams, like we did in the T20 World Cup, and just cause a bit of chaos in the landscape.
"The quality we have got now in the batting, which always was a bit of our weakness, it's so much stronger, so much more consistent now that I believe we can chase the big scores. If we can come home with another headline like 'Dutch cricket spoiled India's World Cup' by knocking them out in the last round, who knows," he laughed.
As for de Leede, who will turn 24 on November 15, the day of the first World Cup semi-final, he said with a laugh that he wouldn't mind taking back home at least one Player-of-the-Match award. "I want to come back with the feeling that we've done everything we could, regardless of the result. I want to come back with the feeling that we played the way we wanted to play and we did what we could within our abilities.
"I mean, we could play our best cricket but still get beaten because the other teams are very, very good sides. So, yeah, definitely like a feeling of we have done everything we can. Left nothing out there."
Nagraj Gollapudi is news editor at ESPNcricinfo
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