Dutch begin to regroup, but Denmark struggle
There was more than a hint of things to come in the KNCB Invitation XI's 88-run victory over Denmark in Utrecht on Saturday, although the most significant message to emerge from the encounter was that the gap between the two sides remains large, and may even be getting larger.
Perhaps the inclusion of the Danes to the ICC's High Performance Program will give them some of the benefits that The Netherlands have enjoyed for the past couple of years. That will certainly be needed if Denmark are to remain competitive at this level.
Both sides were weakened by the absence of players with commitments in England: the Dutch were, of course, without Ryan ten Doeschate and Alexei Kervezee, while Denmark missed Johan Malcolm and Michael Pedersen. But the KNCB XI bore a strong resemblance to the side which will travel to Canada at the end of the month, and it is likely that most of the Danes will figure in the squad for the World Cricket League Division Two tournament in Namibia in December.
For new Dutch coach PJ Bakker there were several positives to take from the game: an excellent half-century from Bas Zuiderent (which was also more than a little galling because he isn't available for the Canada trip), a fine 80-run partnership between Peter Borren (64) and Adeel Raja (40) which gave solidity to the Dutch innings when it tottered briefly at 94 for four, some encouragingly sharp seam bowling from Edgar Schiferli, Mudassar Bukhari and Mark Jonkman, excellent spells from Borren and Raja, and some great fielding leading to four run outs, all from direct hits.
Denmark's Peter Palle Klokker had less to celebrate. His frontline bowlers, Thomas and Henrik Hansen, stuck to their task well, but with only modest success, while the star of the Danish attack was left-arm spinner Bashir Shah, who bowled a fine ten-over spell in which he conceded just 16 runs.
But the batsmen never looked likely to get anywhere near the Dutch total, especially once Jonkman had removed both openers in an over which also saw Carsten Pedersen run out without scoring as Denmark slumped to 39 for three. Max Overgaard, who came in during that disastrous over, stayed to the end as he completed his second half-century in successive days, but only David Borchersen and Henrik Hansen were able to give him any support, and the Danish innings meandered rather aimlessly towards a total of 145 all out.
As practice in the middle the game had its merits, but as a spectacle it was, to be honest, a definite disappointment.