The head coach of the Netherlands, Ryan Cook, feels that his team has gained the respect of rivals because of their playing philosophy and endurance in competition.
Cook gave a candid assessment of his team’s faults before their ninth and final World Cup match against India in Bengaluru, looking back on the team’s development over the previous two months with nostalgia.
“It goes without saying that the guys have put in some really good performances both individually and as a team, both batting and bowling and fielding,” he said. “Therefore, I believe that everyone has shown appreciation for the manner in which we have approached and played cricket.
And as a coach, that’s been incredibly encouraging to witness. The boys have made great progress in developing their various training routines and streamlining our procedures, and the competition has been quite beneficial to us in that aspect.”
Cook had begged the stronger sides for some playing time before the World Cup. After their heroics at the Zimbabwean qualifiers in June, they were compelled to travel to India in October, even though they had not played an official One-Day International (ODI) till then. However, things are improving now.
“I have actually had a few teams’ coaches approach me and ask about our schedule and how potentially they could fit into their schedule, so that bodes well,” Cook said. “However, I am aware of how full the foreign schedule is.
However, we would undoubtedly prefer to play as many teams as we could. We’ve demonstrated our ability to compete for extended stretches of time, and it goes without saying that when we play these teams, we’ll be able to play with greater endurance.”
Cook acknowledged that the elimination of the ODI Super League, which the Netherlands participated in from 2020 to 2023, was a significant setback. There is still hope, though, as the ICC will talk about this problem at its annual summit later this month.
Currently, the ODI rankings will determine who plays in the 2027 World Cup; the Super League will not be included in the following cycle. This implies that teams are not required to play a certain amount of games over the following four years. Associate countries that aren’t promised a set number of games—24 in the Super League cycle—will be the most severely affected, such as the Netherlands.
“Yeah, I think the Super League was really influential for the players and they often refer back to those as reference points that they’ve had playing in different countries, playing against some of the top teams in the world,” Cook stated. “And I believe that’s probably one of the reasons we’re in the current situation, participating in the World Cup.
“The boys improve when they play better opponents, therefore it seems sense that we will benefit from playing more of such oppositions. After the qualifiers, we didn’t play any cricket against anyone else; instead, we only played against Karnataka, I believe.
In retrospect, it’s likely that we overlooked a few opportunities to hone our abilities and establish momentum with regard to the high-quality fixtures we had. Although those two matches [against Karnataka] were excellent, they were perhaps insufficient to fully prepare for a World Cup like this one. And we had nothing to do with that. We made every effort to obtain as many fixtures as we could. However, as we just mentioned, the schedules are clearly very full.
Therefore, while the Super League is undoubtedly a setback for us, as we approach the T20 World Cup, nothing prevents a bilateral series between two nations in ODI or T20 cricket. They’ll face the elite teams once more, so naturally we’ll be doing everything in our power to get ready for the competition.”
Cook did not sugarcoat the inadequacies of the Netherlands by blaming them on schedule or other unavoidable conditions. “We need to be better for longer, whether that’s with the bat or with the ball,” he stated. “I believe we’ve seen glimmers of really good play. An ODI is 100 overs long, but some of those intervals have been 20-30-40 overs lengthy.
“I think the boys have done a great job sticking with it out in the field. We’ve proven to be among the top fielding teams in this competition, in my opinion. And they’re quite proud of that. And since that’s one area where we can compete, we invest a lot of time and energy into it. And that will be evident in each of our training sessions. The boys are constantly becoming better at fielding, which is something we always do.”
Cook was especially effusive in his compliments for the team’s dedication and friendship, which have enabled them to overcome some difficult setbacks. “I’ve been very proud personally of the effort that all the guys have put in,” he stated. “Being in and around the team makes it impossible to realize that we are in the last stretch of the competition.
“There would never be a dull moment; in fact, the group’s bond, cohesiveness, and togetherness are perhaps greater than they have ever been. Thus, I believe that demonstrates our culture and our learning process, as well as the fact that at this point in our team’s development, progress is more important than outcomes.”
Netherlands entered with the intention of removing the label of Associate. Cook believed that this could play a particular role and undercut their belief. They often discussed how reaching the semi-finals was a feasible objective. Cook was pleased that they will depart India with the knowledge that they are a significantly superior team than the one that arrived in mid-September, even though that goal was not accomplished.
Indeed, it goes without saying that we would have like to be in those semi-final spots come tomorrow. Indeed, we definitely would have. However, I believe the boys learn important lessons from this, and the bonds we’ve been able to forge are incredibly solid. We’ve probably also picked up a lot of knowledge about how to be ready for situations like this.
“We had two trips to Bangalore, Bengaluru, and both trips were wonderful experiences for us. And for all of us, it was a kind of eye- and mind-opening event. Indeed, I believe we would have arrived somewhat more equipped if we had played a few more games in the subcontinent. However, we made do with what we had, and the boys, as you mentioned, have been giving it their all in every practice and game that they participate in. I’m incredibly proud to be a coach in that sense.”