This may be an era of short attention span and fading memories, but social media has its own way of remembering. On Tuesday, even as the cricketing world was still coming to terms with Netherlands’ sensational win over South Africa in the World Cup, the online world dug out the rags-to-riches story of Dutch pacer Paul van Meekeren.
In November 2020, when the T20 World Cup was originally slated to be held in Australia but was cancelled because of Covid, van Meekeren was working as a delivery agent for food ordering company Uber Eats. “Should’ve been playing cricket today, now I’m delivering Uber eats to get through the winter months!! Funny how things change... hahaha... keep smiling people,” the burly van Meekeren had posted online.
Three years on, the Amsterdam native was one of the stars of the victory over Temba Bavuma’s men, bowling nine overs for 40 runs and picking up two wickets, including the prized scalp of Aiden Markram who was castled by a ball that nipped back in.
“In the innings break there was a clear message about bowling cross seams,” a jubilant van Meekeren told reporters in the mixed zone. “We felt the wicket was a bit two-paced. And we knew we had to start well because their [South Africa’s] top-six had a lot of firepower. But from seven onwards, we felt there’s a real weakness.”
“If you get the opportunity to open up one end, you have to take it. We didn’t do that against Pakistan in the first game but here we just didn’t hold back.”
Compared to the nine other nations competing in India, Netherlands is not blessed with eye-popping talent. But what it lacks in star power, it makes up with sheer team effort and some street-smart cricket. Against the Proteas, No. 9 batter Roelof van der Merwe and No. 10 Aryan Dutt were the second and third-highest run-getters behind skipper Scott Edwards.
“I think I’m the only player who’s not in the batting meeting,” said a grinning van Meekeren, who bats at No. 11. “But we know we’ve got that firepower all the way [down]. You saw Aryan at No. 10 hitting some big bombs.
“We bat deep but weren’t able to set that platform in the first two games. Maybe a bit of rustiness or World Cup fever. But we are getting into that rhythm of playing big teams and doing the right things for longer.” With more performances like Tuesday’s, the world will need no reminding of van Meekeren and his teammates.
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