The Netherlands has long lagged behind its major European rivals, Ireland and Scotland, in the development of a coherent A-team strategy, and it is evident that national coach Ryan Campbell and High Performance Manager Roland Lefebvre are keen to fill this gap.
Campbell’s selection policies over the past year have demonstrated both that there is a sizeable pool of talented young Dutch players and that they are for the most part nowhere near ready to take on full international sides, even from other Associate nations.
The answer, therefore, is to provide a really testing schedule of fixtures for a genuine A side, where those players can hone their skills and improve their gamecraft against seriously challenging opposition.
In recent years Ireland’s A team, the Wolves, who are currently playing an extended series against Namibia in South Africa, have regularly taken on Scotland A as well as playing against the occasional English county Second XI, while Scotland A regularly meet county Second XIs.
The Dutch A team, by contrast, has tended to operate on a much more ad hoc basis, with a good deal of overlap with the full international side and no real evidence of the consistent strategy which it has been widely acknowledged young Dutch players need.
The appointment of Borren to this specific role is therefore a logical next step in the KNCB’s declared aim of developing a national side with a larger proportion of home-grown players.
Borren’s own comment on his appointment was typically reserved: ‘I hope my combination of a little knowledge and lots of energy,’ he said, ‘can contribute to a successful time in what is a big year for Netherlands Cricket.’
But the truth is that no-one in Dutch cricket is better placed to take on this task: he is the Netherlands’ leading international run-scorer with 4847 runs across all formats, and in his 238 matches between 2006 and 2018 he claimed 171 wickets and took 153 catches.
He captained his country 186 times across the three formats, winning 85 of those matches.
Since his retirement from international cricket he has been playing and coaching for his club, VRA Amsterdam, and has done some commentary on live streamed international matches, where his analytical skills were fully evident.
The question which remains is whether he and his new charges will be given the kind of match schedule they need to help them bridge the gap between club cricket and the full international stage, and whether the perpetually cash-strapped KNCB will be able to free up the resources required for this essential task.