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…