George Costanza sitting in Monk’s coffee shop may have wondered back in the 90’s, “What is Holland? A country next to Belgium? That’s the Netherlands. If that’s Holland then who are the Dutch?” If he had asked that in context to cricket in 2009, he would have known better as the Dutch beat England at the World T20 World Cup and announced themselves on the global stage. In 2014, Netherlands’ pulled off a coup yet again but this time under Peter Borren’s captaincy.
The most capped player for Netherlands ended his career on Thursday after a successful captaincy stint for nine years. Although his last tournament as a skipper turned out to be a dispirited one as Netherlands failed to qualify for Super Sixes, let alone the World Cup, but they regained their ODI status. Under his captaincy, Netherlands won the WCL Division 2 and Division 1, having shared the WT20 Qualifier trophy with Scotland in 2015. Those would definitely be his proudest achievements.
Plausibly, at no point may it have seemed that he was the best batsman in the side but it was his grit and will to fight that set him apart. Borren sits third on his country’s leading aggregate run-scorer list with close to 4000 International runs across formats under his belt and was also an agile fielder, having taken over 100 catches in the field.
From tweeting about his disastrous grade cricketing skills to being an active campaigner for the Associates, he earned respect and support in the International cricketing arena. Having teamed up with the Scottish and Irish skippers, he never missed an opportunity to voice the concerns of Associate cricket, which unfortunately seems to be dying a painful death after the ICC reduced the 2019 World Cup to a ten-team showpiece event, thereby creating a divide between the “elite” nations and the Associates.
As Borren said while speaking to Cricinfo, “In terms of making a conscious decision, I’m not really sure but I think it’s important always for Associate captains, coaches, players, when they get a platform to push the cause – because those opportunities don’t come around very often – whether it be a World T20 or World Cup when people might be actually listening for once, we’ve got an awful lot to offer. In my time, there have been some pretty frustrating decisions that have come out from whoever’s running the game, and when I say whoever’s running the game, not the ICC.”
Now that Borren has handed the captaincy baton to Pieter Seelaar, the question is: what does Seelaar bring to the table? Experience. He made his debut around the same time as Borren and has been around the Dutch setup since then. People may have wondered about his role in the team because of the presence of more-successful all-round option in Roelof Van Der Merwe. Seelaar’s left-arm spin is handy but it is his batting that has gone up a notch as proved on numerous occasions, significantly his knock of 138* that helped the Dutch draw their 4-day Intercontinental Cup encounter against Hong Kong.
While Borren leaves Dutch cricket in a better state than when he turned up, he’ll be missed but hopefully, his voice is deafening to break the shackles of the business-minded tycoons looking to spread the game monetarily instead of looking to the divide the pie equally to all the members.