van der Merwe disagrees with ICC’s idea of ten-team World Cup

van der Merwe made 13 T20I and 13 ODI appearances for South Africa, last representing the country of his birth in 2010. Then in July last year, he declared for the Netherlands, with a view to playing international cricket again.

Netherlands all-rounder Roelof van der Merwe poses at the Alur grounds here on Wednesday as his team prepares for the World T20.   -  Shreedutta Chidananda

Back in 2009, Roelof van der Merwe made his debut for South Africa at Centurion, surprising Australia with his powerful (if agricultural) lower-order hitting and his useful left-arm spin. He was 'man of the match' that day, in a performance that was remarkable for the player's angry intensity, his desire to do something every ball. On air, someone likened him to 'the Energizer bunny'.

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Seven years on, van der Merwe finds himself in hugely different circumstances, but he is, he assures, unchanged in his passion on the field. “It's something that I'll have with me till the end of my playing days,” he says at the Alur grounds here on Wednesday. “It's also a personality thing. It's definitely something I bring to the team – that different energy.”

van der Merwe went on to make 13 T20I and 13 ODI appearances for South Africa, last representing the country of his birth in 2010. Then in July last year, he declared for the Netherlands, with a view to playing international cricket again. Now an integral part of their World T20 side, the 31-year-old is in Bengaluru preparing for the tournament with the rest of the Dutch squad. “I'm eligible through my mother's side,” he says. “It was a chance to play international cricket again, which everybody wants to do. Obviously it was tough (to make the switch). The South African setup was all I knew my whole life. It's tough to just pack your stuff and go. But I'm adapting alright and enjoying it. It was a family decision as much as a career decision.”

van der Merwe understands the difference between playing for South Africa — for whom he featured at the 2009 and 2010 editions of the World T20 — and the Netherlands. He can now appreciate how hard life is for Associate nations and thus cannot see sense in the idea of a ten-team World Cup. “I definitely don't agree with the ICC's view on that because if we look at all the past World Cups, Associate members have beaten big teams. And it happens in every World Cup. Making it fewer teams...I don't totally agree with that. Look at rugby and football, and the number of teams in World Cups. It's astonishing that cricket would go the other way now.”

van der Merwe is no stranger to Bengaluru, having played 11 games for RCB in the IPL. On Tuesday, he showed his Netherlands team-mates around town. “We went to Hard Rock Cafe and UB City, places where we used to go,” he says. “Bangalore is an awesome place.”