Club representatives at Thursday evening’s general meeting of the KNCB were surprised to learn that the Board had decided not to renew Chief Executive Jaap Wals’s contract at the end of this year.

The announcement, made towards the end of the meeting by KNCB chair Betty Timmer, indicated that the parting of the ways was ‘by mutual consent’.

Wals initially took up the post as interim CEO on 1 February 2018, and his contract has twice been extended.

An experienced sports administrator with twenty years work for the Royal Netherlands Gymnastic Union behind him, the second decade as that union’s general manager, Wals was brought in to reorganise the KNCB Office and reform the Bond’s policy-making and consultative structures.

He has faced this not inconsiderable challenge, given the history of difficult relations between the Board, the office and the KNCB’s member-clubs, with a clear sense of purpose, using a programme called Slagvaardig Organiseren van Sport (Organising Sport Effectively) to reform the system of consultation and to create a more positive relationship between the Bond’s central organisation and its stakeholders.

This involved his coming to terms with the specifics of both the sport itself and the Netherlands’ distinctive cricket community, but he has managed to obtain a fair measure of acceptance of his initiatives.

There has, Wals claimed in an interview with sportknowhow.nl last month, been a significant change of mindset, reflected in the KNCB’s projects introducing new variants of the game designed to get more youngsters from outside cricket’s traditional bases involved in the sport.

He is also ex officio director of Cricket Nederland, the company set up by the KNCB to run the Netherlands’ major events, a function which will therefore pass to his successor when he leaves.

In his interview with sportknowhow.nl, Wals gave a hint that the Board’s decision may have come as less of a surprise to him than it did to the clubs.

Two phases of the structural reorganisation were now complete, he explained, but that did not mean that his work was done; he would need another six months to achieve the embedding of his changes, but ‘I expect that we should be pretty much finished by the end of this calendar year.’

That now sounds like a valediction, with the Board apparently having concluded that it was time for someone else to apply a guiding hand.

Such is the nature of Dutch cricket, though, that there may be a fair amount of anxiety about just what that change of helmsman will imply.