The immediate context of this season’s game, played in Utrecht this week, was preparation for next week’s Intercontinental Cup match again Ireland at Malahide, and in that respect the Dutch game provided a useful workout for the majority of the squad.
In the longer term, however, a much more significant context is national coach Ryan Campbell’s declared determination to develop a side with greater depth and a stronger base in Dutch domestic cricket, and here, too, some important steps were taken.
It did not help, of course, that rain restricted play to just 23.3 overs on the first day, although with early starts and late finishes in the end only 35 overs of the original 288 were lost, and with some enterprising declarations it was possible to achieve a result, the Hurricanes repeating last year’s victory.
This time the margin was 128 runs, as the Seafarers, set to make 254 in 66 overs, were dismissed for 125. Quirijn Gunning thoroughly deserved his haul of five for 23, while off-spinner Mahesh Hans added three for 19 to his first-innings figures of five for 68.
Overall, the seamers came out of the match pretty well, with Gunning’s new-ball partner Fred Klaassen bowling better in both innings than his figures of one for 47 and two for 36 suggested. Their opposite numbers in the Seafarers’ attack, Shane Snater and Berend Westdijk, also produced useful spells.
One cause for concern, though, is the poor starts made by the top orders in all four innings: the Hurricanes were soon reduced to 40 for three on the first morning; the Seafarers in their turn were 35 for three and 75 for five; batting again, the Hurricanes lost both openers by the time 41 was on the board; and in the final chase the Seafarers slumped to 33 for four.
On the other hand, the match also saw some excellent batting, with Tobias Visée’s 82 in the Hurricanes’ first-innings total of 256 for nine declared, Max O’Dowd’s 100 not out in the Seafarers’ reply of 226 for eight declared, and Saqib Zulfiqar’s unbeaten 82 in the Hurricanes’ second knock as they were pushing to set their opponents a target, all fine innings which gave all three players valuable time in the middle ahead of next week’s Ireland match.
Ben Cooper, too, batted well for his second-innings 46, while Peter Borren’s cameo 17-ball 33, which included a clinical demolition of Wesley Barresi’s occasional off-spin, was an undoubted highlight of the third day, and indeed of the whole season.
All in all, the game confirmed the value of such encounters, of which Dutch cricket could benefit from a good deal more. But given that such a match was impossible five or so years ago, even one such match a season is an indication of progress made.