Ryan ten Doeschate... would grace almost any Test XI
As I keep re-iterating, I do not have a problem with migrant cricketers. The trouble for the Netherlands is how flimsy their cricket is at home. With only a few thousand club cricketers out of a population of around seventeen million, cricket is little more than an obscure niche sport. Dutch youth teams are an endangered species, the Under-19s last seen finishing below Jersey in a 2010 European tournament; since then, nothing.
Dutch youth teams are an endangered species.
Despite obvious talent, none of these players have yet found success at senior level. Is this a missing generation of Dutch youngsters? A look at the home-grown players around the national set-up shows that there is a rather more wide-spread dearth. Eric Szwarczynski, Tom de Grooth, Atse Buurman, Tim Gruijters, Ahsan Malik Jamil and Pieter Seelaar are the exceptions to a rule that says all Dutch players are imports. Of these, only Pieter Seelaar has really found consistent success, but even he seems to have fallen out of favour with the emergence of South African Michael Rippon. Seelaar, who impressed all at the 2011 World Cup, bowled only a handful of overs in a several week long tour of Namibia, and found wickets hard to come by.
Pieter Seelaar ... found consistent success, but even he seems to have fallen out of favour.
We also need to see some more long-term thinking from the KNCB. Rather than putting their eggs in a distinctly overseas basket, they need urgently to develop young talent. Perhaps, if they approached Cricket Ireland about an A-team competing in next year's Interpros? They need to have their players playing somewhere regularly, and the ECB has made it quite clear that that place will not be the 2014 Yorkshire Bank 40. Some tweaks to the cricketing pyramid might also be helpful, what with the large gulf between the Topklasse and the National team; perhaps something along the lines of the Pro Series in Scotland? Finally, and most importantly, there need to be as many kids playing cricket as possible. My advice: blitz the schools. Get cricket on the PE curriculum. Make sure that all clubs have a youth set-up from Under-11s right through to the men's sides.
The Netherlands have a rich cricketing history, but that should not stop them working on the future.