World Cups need to be showcase of our great game, not of how elitist it is: Netherlands coach

The Netherlands-Ireland series is the first time that cricket can be watched live on Dutch television, with Dutch commentary.

The Netherlands cricket team has earlier been part of four ODI World Cups from 1996 to 2011.   -  FILE PHOTO/AFP

A day after the International Cricket Council (ICC) announced that the men's 50-over Cricket World Cup will once again be a 14-team tournament in 2027 and 2031, the Netherlands snatched a dramatic one-run victory over full-member nation Ireland in the opening game of the three World Super League contests between the teams.

After losing its ODI status due to disappointing performances in the ICC World Cup Qualifier in New Zealand in 2014, Netherlands qualified for the 13-team Super League by winning the ICC World Cricket League Championship in December 2017.

The Netherlands-Ireland series is the first time that cricket can be watched live on Dutch television, with Dutch commentary. In an interview, Ryan Campbell, the Netherlands coach, discusses how ICC's 2024-2031 schedule will impact associate members, challenges of coaching cricket in a football-crazy nation and more.

Excerpts.

How significant is ICC's decision to include more teams in World Cups?

In my opinion, World Cups need to be a showcase of our great game, not of how elitist it is. The 50-over World Cup, in particular, being reduced to 10 teams crushed all of the improvement that countries ranked 13-18 had made in closing the gap with the big teams. World Cups always give the country something to work towards.

Do you think that Test cricket is the future for Dutch cricket? Is it the future for Associates at all or is it Twenty20 cricket?

The Dutch won’t play Test cricket. However, we do want to be a full member. The facts are that we don’t play multi-day cricket and hosting a Test match would simply be way too expensive for us. I think most associate teams would want to play white-ball cricket only. Although as a coach, I miss being able to train a youngster how to play a long innings.

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Hockey and football are Netherland's two major sports. Does it make it harder to get youngsters involved in cricket?

Our biggest issue in the Netherlands is that there is no sport at schools. This means for any kid to play a sport, the parents must register them with a club. Of course, parents want their kids to choose one sport so they don’t have to pay for multiple memberships and usually that one sport would be hockey or football. I’m really excited though to see what happens after our series against Ireland is shown live in the Netherlands for the first time.

Compared to Nepal, Scotland and Papua New Guinea, do you feel Netherlands has probably gone a bit backwards?

I think that is a silly statement. We won the World Cricket League, hence we are the one associate team involved in the ICC Superleague competition with the top 12 teams of the world. We also won the T20 World Cup qualifiers to book our ticket to this year’s World Cup… So it is very clear that our success has been outstanding, including having eight players picked up by county cricket. Nepal and PNG are good stories but their success is far below ours…

How significant a role do accessible ways of watching cricket, say on TV, play as far promoting the sport is concerned?

Giving local kids a chance to watch cricket on TV is massive. I’m pretty sure we all started playing a sport because we saw it on TV. The series between us and Ireland is the first time the Dutch public have had a chance to see their team play. After winning game one, the interest from people, sponsors and the like has gone through the roof.

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Do you think there's a misconception about the amount of work put in by Associate countries?

Creating great pathways and having good development all come down to money and unfortunately associate countries are always struggling to find enough cash to build their structure. It is getting even tougher with the big countries taking more of the ICC share despite not really needing the cash.

What are your dreams for cricket in the Netherlands?

I would love to see us do really well at this year’s World Cup. I think we have a really exciting team that can upset a lot of teams. I also want us to play well enough in the Super League competition to earn our place in the next Super League competition.This would give our youngsters the best chance of being full-time cricketers and really reach their potential.

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