Without five core players in Roelof van der Merwe and Timm van der Gugten (county commitments), Michael Rippon, Peter Seelaar and Viv Kingma (injuries), and with Ahsan Malik Jamil also now out of the picture, Campbell used the UAE series to try out several newcomers, while others had the opportunity to assume more senior roles in the side.
So he will have been encouraged by, for example, Logan van Beek’s outstanding performance in taking a record-breaking six for 18 in the final game as the UAE were bowled out for 122, and by Paul van Meekeren’s excellent, hostile bowling in all three matches, which made him the leading wicket-taker on either side.
Of the Zulfiqar triplets, two of whom were making their first appearance in the full side, Sikander’s unbeaten 41 in the first match, the only one he played, was an extremely valuable knock as he and skipper Borren battled to set a defendable target, while Asad and Saqib did enough to suggest that they will figure prominently in a future top order.
With innings of 27, 39 and 47 Stef Myburgh was the Netherlands’ top scorer in the series, and his opening partnership of 70 with Wesley Barresi at Westvliet gave the side their one good start across the three games.
The advent of Tobias Visée behind the stumps was also a success, as he claimed five catches in the two innings in which he had the gloves.
That said, the fact remains that the Emiratis won the first two matches, and came close to making it a clean sweep as the Dutch struggled to chase a revised target of 103 in 28 overs at Hazelaarweg on Thursday.
They may have had the better of the conditions on Monday and Wednesday – Borren’s decision to bat first in the initial game was clearly a mistake – but their batting, especially from Mohammad Usman, their player of the series, and captain Rohan Mustafa, looked more solid than their hosts’, the seamers generally had more penetration, and they were able to call on several handy spinners, a department in which the Netherlands’s cupboard is worryingly bare when Van der Merwe and Rippon are absent.
The brittleness of the Dutch batting is certainly a concern: although conditions weren’t easy in Amstelveen on Monday morning, they could not entirely account for a collapse to 87 for six, while the slump from 173 for three to 194 for eight at Westvliet on Wednesday was no less disappointing.
And while there was relief to be gained from that last-wicket, final-over win in on Thursday, one could not escape the feeling that the chase should have been a lot more straightforward than it turned out to be, even allowing for the Emiratis’ dogged defensive tactics.
So the Dutch squad will prepare for their next adventure, the Intercontinental Cup match against Ireland at Malahide on 15-18 August, with plenty to work on but with some reason to approach that game against their soon-to-be-Test-playing opponents in a positive spirit.