Update from Windhoek

Having spent a week in Pretoria preparing for our two World Cricket League fixtures in Windhoek, the guys are quietly confident ahead of these two games. The week in Pretoria was fruitful, as it was our first two games outdoors for a few months, and you could see that some of the players were shaking off a few winter cobwebs. In our first game against the University of Pretoria, we were totally outplayed and very undercooked to say the least, but the boys did however turn it around in the second game against the University’s strongest team. Chasing down 296 in 50 overs is no easy feat, no matter who you play against, and it was great to see Tim Gruijters steer the boys home with a calculated knock towards the end.

The week was fast paced, and full of work on the field and in the nets, so there was no time to do some sightseeing in the Jackaranda City. The boys, and support staff, did however find a bit of time to take in some of the culinary treats on offer. Steak was pretty much the order of the camp, as the Euro goes a long way in South Africa. One night I took out few of the guys for a T-bone (500g) special for just €3!! That is unheard of really, when you think that in Amsterdam you pay roughly €5.50 per 100g in a butchers store. From fillet steaks, to mango salads, pampoen koekies, and biltong, one can imagine that the taste buds got a solid working over. The flop of the tour had to be the coaches’ decision to have fish in a steak house. Truly a schoolboy error, and one that was to be repeated in Namibia can you believe.

On our departure to Windhoek, everyone was understandably upbeat about the tour ahead. First up was a few days training, and then of course the 4 day fixture which ended today. As many of you know, it didn’t quite go our way in this game, but we still took out a lot of positives. One thing we have to take into consideration is that as a team, we only play 2 – 3 first class games a year if we are lucky. Teams like Namibia play around 15 – 17 a season. In saying that, we had opportunities in this match to take the game away from the opposition, but unfortunately could not pull it through. Timm van der Gugten finished with 10 wickets in the match, and it was confirmed that it is the best figures in a match in Dutch history. A truly massive achievement, and it was great to watch from the sideline. Pace, aggression, and control, are attributes for any top class fast bowler and we got to see all three of them. Four day cricket (or more day cricket) is the ultimate test, and has a particular rhythm and feel to it. The game is filled with key moments, and periods of activity and inactivity. The trick is to identify these moments and play accordingly. When our batters are used to playing 50 over cricket and all of a sudden you ask them to bat out 100 overs, you can understand when things don’t quite go our way. The solution is simple; In order for us to be better in this format, we have to play a lot more of these games, and be put in these situations more often.

Monday sees us having a practise session before we don the orange clothes, and hit the more familiar white ball around the ground, before our first of two 1day fixtures against Namibia. I have absolutely no doubt that we will bounce back on Tuesday and put in a quality performance that this team is capable of, and has done consistently in the past three years. A few more tweaks and adjustments will be made in a few areas, and once this unit clicks and gets together to dominate on the field, it will be an absolute joy to watch from the sideline. Bring on the one dayers, bring on the white ball, and more importantly, bring on the orange clothes…

Until then.

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Two weeks to go – 10 Guidelines to start the season with

the-way-you-start

Following on from my last post at the end of January, pre-season is used as a time to reflect (on what worked and where we can improve), and for the obvious, to prepare.  Having spent a week in Dubai at a coaches conference for the ICC, I too had some time to prepare my next blog post, all in preparation for the upcoming season. With just under three weeks to go until our ongoing quest for World Cup Qualification resumes, firstly with a Camp in Pretoria – South Africa, and then a series in Namibia, it is easy to get ‘lost’ or stuck in ‘going through the motions’ if one doesn’t have a few guidelines to work with constantly.

I am currently reading a book by Robin Sharma, The Greatness Guide, and found 10 points I believe to be pretty handy for cricketers, as well as in life.  The book has over 100 points, and maybe I will share with you some of them as time goes by, but for the time being, I believe these ten will stand you in good stead. It will also serve as a solid foundation to grow from.

The connections between sport and life, and vice versa, are all around us, and we should always try and connect the two.  Some of the stuff you will have undoubtedly heard before, but maybe one or two points will stand out for you, and make a little more sense. As I have always been taught, even if its just one point, one line, or even just one word that inspires you to be a better you, then I am happy.

Power of simple

Robin uses kids as examples, about how they live in the moment, and teach him to open his heart. He quotes the co-founder of Google who says, “Success will come from simplicity” which for me made so much sense.

Cricket is already a very complicated game, with a lot of technical, tactical, mental obstacles to overcome. Over the last 10 years, we have seen the introduction of Sport Science, video analysis, etc etc. It is very easy to get caught up in all these new avenues of the game, and in the process of finding perfection; one only tends to lose one self. Yes the game of cricket is forever evolving, but the fundamental basics of the game will always remain the same.

Wear shiny shoes

When I first read the title of this chapter, I was a bit skeptical of what I was going to read. I mean, what do shiny shoes have to do about being a leader? But it was way more than that to be honest. Robin explains that, the way you do and look after the small things (like wearing shiny shoes to a job interview), will say a lot about the way you do the big things.  He uses a garden and home as an example.

“If your garden is well organized, I bet you your life is pretty well organized.”

One point that really hit home for me was when he said that you could tell a lot about the business, by the cleanliness of their bathrooms.

In cricket, we place a lot of emphasis on the bigger picture, and tend to forget about the small things. A stupid, yet simple, example would be the following: so many cricketers I have coached all want to play the reverse sweep, the paddle, the big hit for six that wins the game. In essence, I don’t have a problem with that; practice that until the cows come home. What I notice is that, before the players are even in a position to hit the winning runs, they struggle to hit the ball down the ground for a simple single. A lot of young players struggle to occupy the crease, knock the ball around for one’s and two’s, and in the process, build a partnership. Like one of my coaches always told me “a single down the ground is just as sexy a shot, as a sweep or flick for one”.

Do it now

This title pretty much speaks for itself. So many times, we as people, find excuses and reasons to postpone whatever it is we need to do until the next day, next week, or next year. The old cliché is so true: There is no better time than NOW.

In Olympic training circles, there is a saying that says, “You should be a twenty year overnight success”.

This hit home to me. You winning the medal, doesn’t start by training and upping your game just before the World Cup, it starts today. Live and train like a champion today, in order to revel in the spoils tomorrow.

There are no mistakes

In sport, no one walks onto the field wanting to fail. Therefore, all our shortcomings, mistakes, or failures are actually a rich source of learning. Instead of being stuck in the past on our mistakes, we should focus on the future in order to constantly improve and better ourselves. Robin says “Everything that has happened to you in your life – the good and the difficult – was necessary to help you become the person you are now”.

So in fact, there are no such things as mistakes. There are only growth lessons. In sport we talk a lot about older players having a lot of experience. The reason why they have experience is because they have been around for a long time. For a younger player to gain the necessary experience at a high level, one should use these “growth lessons” on a daily basis, act on it immediately, and build towards the future.

Take charge fast

Leadership, success, and greatness occur in moments of challenge, not during ease.  As players, not only should we be wanting to do well in the game that has no consequence, but we should want to be that player that wants to bat when the team needs 15 runs per over to win. We must want to be the player who wants to bat when Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel are charging in at 150km/h on a quick wicket. We must want to be the player that has to bat out the whole day in India on a raging turning wicket, with men all around the bat. Don’t shy away from challenge and opportunity, “Take charge fast” for it is in these moments that we learn most about what we are made of.

Ideas are worthless

I am a big believer in this title. It could be seen as a controversial one, but once I explain, it will start to make sense. In cricket, teams and players can very easily come up with the most lavish of plans and ideas on what they believe are needed to succeed. Great. But ideas are worthless without execution. In other words, ideas are just ideas, unless they are acted on properly. The key to bringing your idea to fruition is the actual execution thereof.

Getting a batter out is way more than just bowling that perfect delivery that clips the top of off stump. It’s the execution of getting the right amount of balls, in the right places for an extended period of time. So again, we find ourselves back at the point where, we should focus on getting the basics right first, before we start thinking about anything else. Great players, and teams, do the basics extremely well, and therefor can execute their plans and ideas a lot easier.

The responsibility meter

Life is all about balance. So many times I have seen players live lives of rock stars, but yet have not achieved much within their own career, or even worse, are only starting out in their career. I once used this analogy with my young Academy players: Everyone wants to be Springbok, live like a Springbok, and party like a Springbok. But yet, not many are willing to work as hard as a Springbok.

Everyone wants to win the final, qualify for the World Cup, win the World Cup, be number one, but yet is not willing to put in the work that requires one to be successful.

To take an excerpt from Robin’s book: “Imagine a dashboard with a meter on it. At one end is the word FREEDOM. At the other, the word RESPONSIBILITY. To me, being a leader and living a remarkable life means striking the delicate balance between the two. In other words, the needle on your responsibility meter should stay in the middle. Ideally.

Ask yourself this question: Where does your life, at this very minute, register on the Responsibility Meter? Too much time enjoying your freedom and not enough time doing what’s required to build a world class career and world class days?  Or the other way around? Being at either extreme means being out of balance.”

As Robin says, “Think about what being in the middle of the meter would look like. Because better awareness drives better choices. And better choices create better results.”

A lust for growth

We all know that we should aspire to grow and improve as players, and human beings on a daily basis. Once we open ourselves up for growth and constant change, we accelerate our path to success. But we tend to forget some of our most important ‘teachers’.

What comes to mind when you when you think about your best Coach, teacher, or boss? Good thoughts, right?

We appreciate all the good feelings that person evoked in us, and empowered us to improve. We saw growth and improvement on a massive scale, and we need to be thankful to that person for shaping us to be who we are today. So why should we feel differently to the most challenging, frustrating, sad, tough days of our lives. Are these not the events that have most sparked change and growth in us? These too were our teachers, and we should acknowledge these moments, for they too have forged us into whom we are today.

In other words, embrace everything that happens to us. Every moment in life, be it good or bad, is a vehicle to personal growth and personal expansion. Identify these life lessons, and learn from them. So many times we don’t acknowledge them, and then these lessons seem to ‘recycle’ themselves onto us until the lesson is learnt.

Credit doesn’t matter

Harry Truman once observed, “You can accomplish anything in life, provided that you do not mind who gets the credit.”

It is so human of us to crave applause, recognition in everything that we do. We all want to be appreciated, and revered by our peers. But leadership in sport, and in life, is about standing for a cause. In other words, it’s a about the team. The teams’ ambitions come before yours. Leave your ego at the door when you go to practice today, or take part in a match, and just focus on what you can do for the team that will help them be successful.

It is as simple as that.

Be a beautiful thinker

“You are what you think”

“Think big, and your behavior will follow”

“Think good things, and good things will happen to you”

We have all heard these sayings in so many ways, but yet we still self-sabotage ourselves into negative things happening to us. Why can’t we be happy all the time? Instead we wait for something ‘bad’ to happen to us, because this is too good to be true.

You see, the way we think ultimately shapes the way we live, and therefore we should think beautifully every day. Our thoughts dictate our feelings, and ultimately our actions. We are all in control of our thoughts, so why not make them beautiful.

In sport it is exactly the same. We should always focus on the positive things and keep moving forward. Like Robin says,  “What you focus on truly will expand. And what you dwell upon will most definitely determine your destiny”.

 

I hope that some of these points made sense, and hopefully inspire you to become a better you, no matter how big or small.

Next stop is Pretoria, where we gather as a team to prepare for our series against Namibia, and during that time, I will once again post a few blogs on what is happening on and off the field, before we get down to business in Windhoek.

 

Until then.

 

 

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2013 – The rigours of touring, time off, and growth as a person

2013 is already in full swing, and planning has started in earnest for the upcoming season. A couple of days ago, I looked through our schedule for the year, and I can tell you that it is bumper to bumper stuff. Not that I’m complaining, in fact, its quite the opposite.

Touring the world, and being able to play against strong opposition is what every cricketer, and Coach, should aspire to. Granted, our schedule is not nearly as hectic as the Proteas for example, but I suppose it is all relative. Touring is as much a part of International cricket, as the brushing of ones teeth, and over the past year, maybe two years, I have heard a lot of players, and Coaches, complaining about touring, schedules, and so forth. For me, its not about the schedule, its more about the time away from home, and the twenty four seven attention on the job. If not addressed properly, a mental burnout could ensue.

These days, a lot of emphasis is placed on the player’s well being, and freshness of mind, when touring schedules come up. If I can use Gary Kirsten and his team for example; when they have time off from the game, it is basically told to the players to go and relax, get your mind off cricket. The old style coach, would be drilling the guys into the ground, if they had lost, or keep practising for the sake of practising. Of course there is a time and a place to be firm with players, but mostly the thought of “less is more” is used to great effect.

So many times I see Dale Steyn in the water catching a few waves, hearing of the boys playing some serious golf against one another as a relaxer, and of course you get the guys that cant wait to go home and have a braai with close friends and family. Some people like fishing, 4×4 driving, hiking, road tripping, swimming, mountain biking, or just simply just like to put up the old feet up. Time enjoyed wasting, is no wasted time at all.

Hiking the Chapmans Peak trail in Hout Bay, Cape Town

Hiking the Chapmans Peak trail in Hout Bay, Cape Town

The point is to get as far away from the game as possible. Each player is different, and therefore use different methods to switch off when away from the game. But what no one really talks about, is the Coaches’ time off. So much emphasis these days is placed onto the players, but no one really talks, or looks after the Coaches. When you think about it, the Coach is always busy planning ahead, and always has to give 110% at each training session, to each and every player. Add this on top of being alert for every game, pressure on performance, coupled with the touring schedule, and one can see that time away from the game is just as important for the Coach, if not more important. The point that I’m trying to make is; Coaches need to invest more time looking after themselves mentally, and therefore remain fresh, and therefore create optimum performance within the team. My sister always told me that the fish always rots from the head down, and it all makes sense once you think about it.

I think it is vitally important, that all Coaches try to be as fit as they can be, which will enable them to sustain the rigours of day to day coaching, month on month touring, and obviously coping with stress. Added to this, first class planning, is also a vital key to success. Rather be over prepared, is my motto. The support structure for the Coach needs to be firmly in place in order for him/her to excel at the highest level. Surrounding yourself with a world class team is essential.

This brings me to my next point: personal well being. I suppose this counts for both players and Coaches, and I cant stress the point enough, that ones personal well being needs to be in tip top shape. I’m sure everyone has heard of Self Confidence, and Self Esteem right? The question that I’m posing is, do we know the difference between the two? The reason for asking is, so many times we mix the two up, and end up making life, and sport, even more difficult than it already is. I will try and explain, what I believe, is the difference between the two…

Self Esteem

This implies to who you are in your relationship with friends, family, and loved ones. It’s who you are at home. It’s your spiritual relationship (if your are so inclined). Its who you are when no one is looking so to speak. It is who you are as a person.

Self Confidence

Is what you do as a person. In a sporting sense, this may refer to how you perform a certain skill, to overcome a certain obstacle, and to be able to perform under pressure. Self-confidence is mostly used to trick yourself, to feel like a world beater when the chips are against you. People with a whole lot of self-confidence, may even come across as over the top boisterous, or just plain arrogant. A perfect example for me would be the USA Olympic track athletes.

Here’s the trick though: Do we know how or when to use these? Can they work together? And can they affect one another, and ultimately yourself?

How many times have I seen that self-confidence, or the lack thereof, affect a persons self esteem. So often, people have used the way they perform on the field, affect who they are off the field. For example: a cricketer has just made it into the “big time” and all of sudden becomes arrogant, selfish, and loses contact with people who were with him/her in the beginning. Too big for the game so to speak. Sound familiar?

Or what about this scenario: A player has been in a slump the whole season, maybe even two, and this seems to affect the way he/she is at home. Relationships take strain, drinking habits occur, and life at home starts to take a downward curve. This is called a negative spiral, and things just seem to go against you no matter what you try.

You see the trick is, no matter what you do ON the field, it really has absolutely nothing to do with who you are OFF the field. At no time should your self-confidence be used to build up your self-esteem. In fact it is exactly the opposite way around. You should use your self-esteem to build up your confidence. Focus on becoming a better person, and I guarantee you that the results will look after themselves. This doesn’t mean you don’t have to train, of course not. All I’m saying is that, a balanced, happy, strong moral valued life off the field, will lead to more self confidence, and therefore give you a better chance in performing the skill. Because no matter what anyone does, or says to you, or what happens to you, has absolutely no bearing on who you really are as a person. That’s the beauty of it.

So how does this all come together with touring, cricket, and time off? Well for me its simple: find balance and happiness off the field, and look to be a better person to your friends, family, and especially your loved ones. After all, that’s who you really are. Be grateful that you have a talent in either playing cricket, or coaching it. Use your self esteem to model the way you play or go about your business on the field, and I’m sure you will see some sort of success down the line. And even if you don’t, it doesn’t change the way you love your wife, or treat your kids.

I trust this all makes a bit of sense. It’s always tricky to stay on track when I start talking about something I feel very passionate about. So basically, in a nutshell, for 2013, lets all strive to be better people, and be open to grow as human beings, and always have a smile on your face. What better way to look forward to your next tour…

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A fitting end for The Netherlands Cricket Team in India

Day 8 – Match Day vs England Lions T20 in Pune

England Lions Squad

England Lions Squad

After having a well deserved day off for players, as well as staff, it was all back to business today, in what was the last fixture for the tour. As discussed in the team meeting the previous evening, we really wanted to end off the tour on the right note. Not in terms of the result, but rather in the way we go about our business. We wanted to first of all to put in a solid fielding performance, and for the bowlers we wanted to focus on summing up the wicket (types of deliveries, and lengths to bowl), and executing our plans to various batters. All the batters are in good touch, so for them it was just about going out and sticking to what has been working for us the whole tour; contact points, and keeping our shape nicely in the shot.

IMG_0584

Captain Peter Borren wins the toss

Not that the toss was going to determine the winner, but it was still a good toss to win as the wicket was always a bit damp early morning due to the dew on the field. Normally Peter Borren is woeful when it comes to the toss of the coin, but for the last two games he has called correctly, and had no hesitation in sending the English into bat. As always, we wanted to get through the Power Play overs pretty quickly with minimal damage. So the onus was on the opening bowlers to get us off to a good start. Young Paul van Meekeren continued to impress, and started off with just 4 runs off his first over. Michael Swart backed him up on the other end with same amount of runs conceded. Swart eventually got the breakthrough in the 4th over when he removed Michael Lumb with a well flighted, held back off-spinner. Malik did the rest with a regulation catch at backward point. With the score after 5 overs being 34/1, England knew they had to try and maximise the last of the restricted overs. The skipper brought on Tim Gruijters, who removed dangerous Alex Hayles, when he tried to hit him over mid-off but ended up mis-timing it straight to Pieter Seelar. With the batting line-up that England have, I can assure you that we would have taken 43/2 after 6 overs before the game.

Continued pressure from both ends, and clever tactical bowling changes, meant that England were always on the back foot. Seelar and Borren doing a fantastic job together at keeping the ‘big boys’ at bay. Seelar removed both Kieswetter, and James Taylor, and returned with potentially match winning figures of 2/15 in 4 overs. Borren completed his allotted 4 overs for just 25 runs, and this meant that the big hitters in Balance, Buttler, and Stokes had to come in from ball one and make the play. Ashan Malik was again crafty in the use of his slower ball, and cutters, and rightfully claimed the wickets of Ballance, and Buttler. The latter being caught at deep mid-wicket with a well bowled slower ball bouncer. Before England knew it, 20 overs were bowled, and were restricted to 144. Once again a solid performance by the boys in orange, and a quick ten minute change over meant that openers Swart and Myburgh had to get out to the middle and face the music.

England opened with a spinner, Briggs, and with mid-on up Swart backed himself with his trademark pick up sweep shot, but he unfortunately absolutely pinged it straight to the man he was trying to clear. A half a meter either way of him, and it would of been once bounce four material. In walked the in-form Alexei Kervezee, and after a few shaky mistimed shots over the inner-ring, he set off on a whirlwind like innings, taking all the England bowlers to the cleaners. He was aptly supported by his room-mate Myburgh, who was in new territory, playing the more subdued partner of the two. Together these two put on a 108 run partnership off just 72 balls, with Kervezee losing his wicket with the score on 109 in the 13th over. He departed for a extremely well played 80 runs off 45 deliveries, with a strike rate of 178% which included 13 fours and one six. Myburgh soon departed for 35 (37) but not after he took 12 runs off a Jade Dernbach over.

122/3 after 14 overs, meant that the incoming batsmen had to get 23 runs off 36 balls. Unfortunately the skipper could not be there in the end when the winning runs were scored, as he was run out with a direct hit from mid-off by Ben Stokes. Wicket keeper, Wesley Baressi, hit two beautiful boundaries to ease the pressure a bit, and when Bukhari flicked a low full toss for four through the leg side, we were all but over the finish line. It was left up to Baressi again to do the honours, as he did in the previous game, for scoring the winning runs with a huge six over mid-on off the bowling of Stokes. The Netherlands boys reaching the target of 145 with 4 wickets down in the 18th over. Hugs, high fives, and smiles all round capped off another great performance by the boys. To win the series 2 – 1 after being beaten badly in the first game, shows a lot of character, and congratulations has to go to each and every player that was part of this tour, for making it happen.

Wesley Baressi wals off the field victoriously after finishing the game with a six

Wesley Baressi walks off the field victoriously after finishing the game with a six

England Lions 144/6 in 20 overs

James Taylor 29 (26)

Ben Stokes 28* (14)

Gary Ballance 26 (20)

Pieter Seelar 2/15 in 4

Malik 2/27 in 3

Paul van Meekeren 0/28 in 4

Peter Borren 0/25 in 4

Michael Swart 1/38 in 4

Tim Gruijters 1/9 in 1

Netherlands XI 149/4 in 17.3 overs

Alexei Kervezee 80 (45)

Stephan Myburgh 35 (37)

Wesley Baressi 16* (11)

Netherlands XI win by 6 wickets (15 balls to spare)

A quick team huddle after the game saw Head Coach give an understandably emotional thanks to everyone involved, in capping off what truly has been an amazing tour. A big thank you has to go to our sponsors, ABN AMRO, for making this tour a reality for us. It is amazing to see what growth the team has made since the two parties have joined forces. Long may it continue. With a hectic scheduled finished, it is now time for everyone to relax, and look forward to going home, and spending Christmas with their families and loved ones. The festivities this year will undoubtedly be a little bit sweeter, having beaten a very strong England Lions Team 2 – 1.

Team chat to finish off the Tour

Team chat to finish off the Tour

It is on that note that I sign off, and thank everyone for making my first trip to India one that I will never forget. The passion in this country for cricket is second to none, and I hope to be back soon in the sub-continent, ready to face any cricket challenges head on. Keep your eyes and ears on The Netherlands Cricket Team, (via this blog: http://www.rooster55555.wordpress.com, and the KNCB website: http://www.kncb.nl) as we continue on our quest to qualify for the 2014 T20 World Cup in Bangladesh, and the 50 over 2015 World Cup in Australia. The next challenge for us being an away series against Namibia in April 2013.

Until then, I wish you all a Merry Christmas, and a prosperous New Year.

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“Its not about how hard you get hit, its about how quickly you can get back up”

Day 6 – Match Day 2 vs England Lions at Pune

England Lions: Michael Lumb, Varun Chopra, Gary Balance, Craig Kieswetter © (wk), Ben Foakes, Ben Stokes, Scott Borthwick, Matt Coles, Chris Wright, Jade Dernbach, Simon Kerrigan, 12th Alex Hales.

Netherlands XI: Stephan Myburgh, Michael Swart, Alexei Kervezee, Tim Gruijters, Daan van Bunge, Peter Borrem ©,  Tom de Grooth, Wesley Baressi (wk), Pieter Seelar, Paul van Meekeren, Ashan Malik, 12th Tom Heggelman.

England Lions 261/6 in 50 overs

Kieswetter 63 (92)

Stokes 69 (41)

Ballance 40 (59)

van Meekeren 2/34 in 9

Swart 2/45 in 10

Borren 0/39 in 9

Netherlands XI 263/6 after 46.2 overs

Kervezee 96 (92)

Gruijters 51 (65)

Swart 36 (51)

van Bunge 29* (27)

Netherlands XI wins by 4 wickets (34 balls remaining)

Isn’t it amazing how sport and life works? 24 hours ago, the mood in the camp was pretty low, more disappointed that we didn’t give a good account of ourselves than low because of the loss. As I sit in my room now, I can see the guys doing a stretching session in the freezingly cold pool on the ground floor with smiles from ear to ear. The reason being: we bounced back today and beat the England Lions team by 6 wickets. What better way to prove to ourselves that we can compete at this level, by getting a win under the belt.

The managements’ preparation was definitely tested for this game, as it was feared that we would not have 11 fit players in Pune come Friday morning. Keeper Baressi went down late on Thursday evening with a fever, Bukhari was doubtful, and there was still a fitness cloud hanging over Peter Borren. It was quickly decided to truck in a few boys from Mumbai, who were in a training camp at the Cricket Club of India under the guidance of Roland Lefevbre. Tim Gruijters, and back up keeper, Rahil Ahmed, joined the squad late at night, and that meant the coaching staff could sleep a little more peaceful, knowing that we would be covered if anything else crops up.

So, match day started off with management deciding not to risk our premier pace bowler in Bukhari, who may very well have a side strain. Borren declared himself fit, and Baressi was not feeling 100%, but decided to soldier on. So the only changes to yeserday’s team was that Tim Gruijters replaced Bukhari, and Borren came in at the expense of Heggelman. Borren won the toss and chose to bowl first.

IMG_0549

Captains Borren and Kieswetter with the umpires at the toss.

We went into this game very thin in the bowling department, as we only had 5 frontline bowlers. If someone had asked us if we would take 262 as a target to chase, we would have taken it, and run. Our bowlers, in particular youngster Paul van Meekeren, put their hands up and took responsibility to deliver a good performance.  Tight bowling within the first 10 overs, coupled with wickets at crucial stages meant that we were doing a great containment job with the score at 161/5 after 40 overs. Lumb, Chopra, Balance, and Foakes all in the hut. It took a special innings, together with some poor disincline on our behalf, from Durham boy Ben Stokes, to get The Lions to 262/6. His 69* came off just 41 balls, which included 4 boundaries and 6 maximums. Sweet hitting on a small ground will always be difficult to defend. Which is exactly what we thought going into lunch. If we could get a few partnerships going, hang in there at 4 to 4.5 runs per over, we could pull off an upset here.

Speaking about partnerships, Swart and Myburgh did what they do best, and set the platform with 40 runs for the first wicket. Swart was the dominant of the two today, and when he departed for a very well-played 36, the two at the crease were Kervezee and Gruijters. This time yesterday, I presume Gruijters was stuck in Mumbai traffic trying to get to Pune. Today, he was batting at 4 and facing the heat with the score being 62/2 after 15 overs. Alexei was his old self today, playing with freedom and scoring all around the ground, and was particularly quick to pounce on anything short. What was pleasant to witness, was the way Gruijters was handling himself out there too. Full of confidence, Tim went about notching up his 50 in style. Life is all about taking your chances when you get them, and boy he sure did today. Unfortunately he didn’t last too long after that, when he was trapped LBW with a reverse swinging yorker from Stokes. Kervezee on the other hand was nearing his century, ball by ball. Needing just 53 off the last 11 overs, Alexei tried to pull a ball from Stokes, which ultimately bowled him, in what has to be said was the first mistake that Kervezee did in his whole innings. Falling an agonizingly 4 runs short of the magical three figures, Alexei departed with the score on 210/4. By now the ball was reverse swinging big time, and every ball was a challenge to face, especially for new batters coming in. Borren was trapped LBW for 5, and van Bunge survived some lucky escapes at the other end. De Grooth departed for 5 after trying his trademark reverse sweep against Borthwick. Admittedly he did hit a glorious boundary with the same shot the previous ball. In walked Baressi with just 34 runs needed to win.

The boys looked calm in the middle, but I can tell you that my hands were starting to get sweaty. It’s always a great day for us when we beat some of the ‘big-boys’. Their budgets are quadruple the size of ours, and their depth in players is always impressive. So to see Wesley and Daan finish off the game they way they did, is truly a great effort for a team like us. The team bounced back beautifully today, in what has to said, in workman like fashion, particularly in the batting. All the small stuff that we had been working on, was executed very well out in the middle. Yes, at times we were lucky, but you create your own luck at the end of the day.

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The skipper asked for positivity, and accountability this morning, and I think its safe to say that he got what he asked for. Last night in out team meeting, various things were discussed, and at the end of it, I just knew the boys would put in a better performance, regardless of the result. It so happens that on this day, it went our way, due to a solid bowling performance within the first 40 overs, and then capped off by a great partnership of 136 off the same amount of deliveries. Easily the moment of the game, and gives the boys a  well deserved day off tomorrow. IMG_0547

A great effort by the lads, which bodes well for a great climax come Sunday, when we take on the England Lions again in a T20 fixture. I have no doubt in my mind that they will come back firing, but so too will we be waiting…

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The ‘roller-coaster’ life of a sportsman or Coach

Day 5 – Match Day vs England Lions in Pune

Today we came up against a very strong England Lions team, full of upcoming players pushing for higher honours. Nothing that we haven’t been confronted with before, but we knew we would have to lift our game even higher today if we were to be competitive. Unfortunately this morning our Captain Peter Borren woke up with a tummy bug, and had to be removed from the starting XI. This meant that Michael Swart took over the reigns for the day, and that Tom Heggelman replaced Borren’s spot in the line-up.

Captain's Michael Swart and Craig Kieswetter.

Captain’s Michael Swart and Craig Kieswetter at the toss.

Having lost the toss, we were asked to bat and so for the umpteenth time for the past season or so, the combination of Swart and Myburgh made its way out to the middle. Once again the pair put on a good show and got us off to a good start with a partnership of 42 off just 6 overs. We did however lose 3 quick wickets within the first ten overs, but with the score at 64/3 after 10, we still felt that a lot of batting was to come. Risk free cricket should still get us to a good total. Unfortunately, the batters who got in, got out, and just when we needed a partnership to get going, a wicket fell. We never really had momentum in our innings. The majority of our dismissals were soft, but credit also has to go to the England bowlers for a good effort. Being bowled out within your allotted 50 overs is never ideal, but we had a hour spell at the English before lunch to try and make some in-roads.

Things started off well, with Bukhari summing up the wicket nicely, and claiming 2 well deserved scalps. Craig Kieswetter walked in at number four and received a gem of a delivery from Bukhari first up, which caused a massive appeal for leg before from our boys. The umpire however had other ideas. A faint inside edge meant that Kieswetter survived the shout. When lunch dawned on us, the score was 39/2 after 12 overs.

James Taylor and Kieswetter, proceeded to bat on nicely after lunch, and it was their partnership of 84 that effectively sealed the game for the English. Jos Butler came in after Kieswetter was dismissed, and played a nice little cameo of 23* of 16 balls which included two 6’s. The England Lions passed our score of 155 in the 31st over, and thus recorded a 7 wicket victory.

A tough day at the office for the boys in Orange, but I’m sure we will bounce back nicely tomorrow when we take them on again in a 50 over clash at Poona Cricket Club.

Netherlands XI                      155 all out in 33 overs

van Bunge                              42(70)

Myburgh                                34(24)

Swart                                      22(23)

England Lions                        155/3 after 31.4 0vers

Taylor                                     67*(96)

Kieswetter                             37(49)

Buttler                                    23*(16)

Bukhari                                  2/38 in 8

Heggelman                             1/22 in 4

England Lions win by 7 wickets.

Thoughts on the day

In my fledgling academy days, my Coach always told me “beware of the emotional roller-coaster Rooster!”

Back then I didn’t quite understand what he was saying nor what he meant exactly, mainly because I was young, and very non-conforming. Little did I know that I would be preaching the same gospel to my Academy students 7 years down the line, as I embarked on my coaching journey.

Today, in International cricket, the story comes back to remind me yet again about the roller-coaster life as a sportsman, and Coach. In sport, as in life I suppose, you will have good days, and you will have bad days. You may very well have a stretch of absolutely great days, followed by some absolutely pitiful ones. The point that I’m trying to make is: in sport, you get your up’s and down’s. You can never allow yourself to be too happy, because that breeds complacency, and you can never allow yourself to be too down, because that will just kill you. Somewhere in-between those two extremes, you have to find the happy medium to operate in. An easy way to do that, is to emotionally disassociate yourself from the result. A tough concept to grasp, but once mastered, the world will be your oyster. Focus your energy rather on good preparation, positive energy, and attitude.

In sport, especially in cricket, there are many variables that you can’t control. Even in your preparation, you cannot control everything that you want to. Weather, illness, facilities etc, all play a roll in how you prepare for a match, series, or tour. What you can control however, and you are in control of this everyday of your life when you wake up in the morning, is your ENERGY and ATTITUDE. No matter what life, or sport, throws at you, you are always in control of these two things. Some coaches say that these two ‘controllables’ can directly be associated into what you THINK, FEEL, and SAY. I agree 100% but that I will talk about that some other time.

The Dutch in a team talk.

The Dutch in a team talk.

What does all this have to do with what happened today in the cricket you ask? Well, to put it bluntly, we got beaten badly. Or at least, that is what the scorecard says. You see, so many times, players and Coaches make the mistake, by analysing their performances on outcomes (ie. results, figures, or stats). What we should be doing is, focusing on the processes that led up to the result. Focus on preparation, planning, and execution. More times out of ten, if you get that right, the results will look after itself.  So no matter how badly you want to walk into the change room and give the players, or your fellow player (depending on if you are Coach or a player), a good talking to because you lost, rather point the finger towards yourself, and ask the question of “how was my energy and attitude today? Could I have done anything better, or different, that would have helped my fellow player or your players?” If you have ticked all the boxes correctly, chances are you failed in execution, a bad day at the office so to speak. If not, well then the answer is simple. The trick is to be honest with yourself.

So in short, yes of course its not a great feeling to lose. In fact, if it doesn’t hurt then you shouldn’t be looking to play or coach professional sport. Let it hurt a bit, and then get rid of the feeling, and focus on the next upcoming challenge, and prepare accordingly. Touch up on areas that need to be touched up and move on. In sport there always will be a winner, and a loser, that’s a fact. Be a winner in your energy, attitude, the way you prepare, and on how you go about your daily routines. Only then will you find yourself operating in the happy medium of the emotional roller-coaster.

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Thrilling finish at the D.Y. Patil Stadium

Day 5 – Match day vs Mumbai XI

Tam 2

Back: Tessa Koneman, Stephan Myburgh, Wesley Baressi, Ashan Malik, Michael Swart, Paul van Meekeren, Daan van Bunge, Daniel Doram, Tom Heggelman, Alexei Kervezee, Anton Roux, Roland Lefebvre
Front: Tom de Grooth, Mudassar Bukhari, Ed van Nierop, Peter Borren, Peter Drinnen, Pieter Seelar

Today saw us play our last fixture of the Mumbai leg, and to add to that, it was played under lights, at what has to be said is a magnificent Dr. D.Y. Patil Stadium. I can only imagine what it must be like, when the stadium is at full capacity cheering for Sachin Tendulkar as he makes his way to the crease for the Mumbai Indians. The stadium has a very Bullring (Wanderers) feel to it, as the stands are sort of built to make it feel like the supporters are literally on top of you.

We always knew that todays opposition would be slightly different, and that they would come out guns blazing  after they got given a solid hiding by us yesterday. As per usual, our team meeting prior to the game was full of discussion about game plans and what we wanted to execute as players and as a team. A debrief was given on the previous game, and a lot of positives were taken out of that fixture that we most definitely would use today, as well as in future matches.

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Consul General Marijke van Drunen

What made this fixture a little more appetising for us, was the fact that our sponsor ABN AMRO was present, with a few of their clients, as well as the Consul General Marijke van Drunen, and her guests of honour. Our sponsors also kindly invited all the kids that we gave a clinic to the previous day or so, to come and have a great night out watching a bit of cricket.

Well, they were in for a treat all right. Peter Borren lost the toss and was asked to bowl first on what seemed like a good wicket. S. Marathe, Mumbai XI’s left handed opening batter, got off to an absolute flier, and was striking the ball like a true champion. Crisp, clean, calculated hitting that even the little master himself (Tendulkar) would have been proud of. He was well on his way to register a hundred, which takes some doing in the T20 format,  but was expertly dismissed with a cutter from Malik, and wicket keeper Baressi did the rest as he sent the batter back to the pavilion 5 runs short of his milestone stumped. A great innings it must be said, and as soon as the boys saw the back of him, the run rate seemed to stagnate a bit in the closing few overs, which meant that they could never really kick on and post a huge total. In saying that, 165/5 was still going to take a good effort from our boys to reach. Once again, miserly bowling from Malik and Bukhari was backed up superbly by a solid performance in the field. Our boundary fielding was top-notch again, and all the catches were held in the deep.

After the interval, it was our chance to take to the stage, and I’m sure most of the batters were licking their lips at the prospect of batting on a good wicket that had a bit of everything. There was just enough swing and seam movement for the bowlers, as Swart found out after he received a gem upfront. Myburgh was run out in the first over, an so for the first time in a while, our solid opening pair were in the shed, and it was up the rest of the lads to do the job. Alexiei Kervezee came in and was in the zone straight away. He was striking the ball just as good as Marathe, and at one stage he was scoring at a staggering 255% strike rate. Unfortunately he couldn’t continue welding his willow at will, and was eventually caught out in the deep for a well played 48 runs off 22 balls. His knock, together with van Bunge, meant that we still had a solid platform from which to launch our attack. The score after 6 overs was 64/2. In waked the skipper. He has been in good touch lately, but he will admittedly tell you that he has gone out cheaply in the last few innings, and so I’m sure he had a point to prove to himself that he could finish off the job. He started off in his usual fashion, working the ball all around the field and into gaps, turning singles into doubles, and playing the odd sweep here and there. Daan van Bunge unfortunately went out for a well played 34, and their partnership of 57 off 45 balls meant that we were in the hunt to pull off a great chase. The scoring rate required had gotten to a manageable 7 runs per over with plenty of batting to come. However, the quick dismissals of de Grooth, Bukhari, Seelar, and a first baller for van Meekeren, meant that we were on the brink of getting bowled out in our chase. The captain stood firm at his end, whilst trying to guide the ship home safely. What seemed to be a walk in the park for us, now seemed improbable as we needed 16 runs off the last over for victory.

Malik, not a stranger to close finishes, was Borren’s partner at the non strikers end with 6 balls to go. With fine leg in the circle, Borren tried to lap the first ball, but unfortunately missed it as it was bowled just inside the wide line of off stump. The following delivery was a expertly bowled slower ball, that held up nicely in the turf and flummoxed the captain, as he tried to pull it through the leg side. Two dot balls in a row, meant that we needed 16 of just 4 balls. A moment that may very well go unnoticed in the game were the next 2 runs scored down the ground. If it wasn’t for Malik’s awareness of backing up properly at the non-strikers end, and turning quick to make it back for the second run, I may very well be writing a completely different report on the game.

So with the double completed, we had 3 balls remaining, off which we had to score 14 runs for victory. In these sort of situations, a team also needs a bit of luck to pull it off, and luck seemed to shine down upon us when Borren’s top edge pull shot went for a boundary over the keepers head. This meant that we needed 10 off the last 2 balls. One of these last two balls needed to disappear out of the ground for us to stand a chance to win. It wasn’t to be the next delivery, as Borren smashed a low full toss down the ground, expertly piercing the mid-off and mid-on fielders who had no chance of getting close to the tracer bullet. Could the script have been written any better? A six needed off the last ball of the game for victory. For the people who came as guests to watch with our sponsor, most of whom have never really watched a game in their lives, and for the kids on the side cheering on their heroes, this surely was a great advertisement for the game of cricket. Tension, and excitement in its rawest form. Some deliberation went on between their captain and bowler, as changes to the field were made. On the sideline, we were all pre-determining what sort of ball would be bowled, and due to the field set in a certain way, it was pretty clear that the bowler was backing himself to bowl a yorker. Our skipper stood his ground and proceeded to absolutely pump the low full toss out of the ground and into the stands over long-on. With his hand held aloft, and fist pumping the air, that penultimate six meant that The Netherlands pulled off a 1 wicket victory with a wonderful chase of 166 runs. A fitting end in a Stadium that has seen many a close game before I’m sure.

Heroic captain Peter Borren celebrates in front of the kids.

Heroic captain Peter Borren celebrates in front of the kids

This game had everything. Adrenalin was pumping all the way to the finish, and hats off to the skipper who finished it off in classic style. A way that many kids dream of doing one day when they get older. Borren finished on 59* off just 37 balls which included 6 boundaries and that wonderful six off the last ball. A great game, capped off a great night under lights for the boys, and for the spectators. Our Mumbai leg of the tour  had finished on a great note, and the boys now take a lot of momentum to Pune, where they come up against the England Lions team in two 50 over fixtures and a T20. I can tell you that the boys are looking forward to the challenge.

Mumbai XI                 165/5 in 20 overs

Malik                           2/28 in 4

Bukhari                      1/22 in 4

Netherlands XI          166/9 in 20 overs

Kervezee                    48(22)

van Bunge                  34(37)

Borren                        59*(37)

Netherlands XI win by 1 wicket (0 balls to spare)

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