After booking the flight to India, The Netherlands continues to soar higher and higher

Max O’Dowd, in an interview with The Hindu, reveals that the Dutchmen spent a lot of time on spin camps and spin bowling in the lead-up to the World Cup; the opener says the team is massively proud of the progress it is making and hopes that it will raise the profile of cricket back home

October 31, 2023 12:38 am | Updated 07:12 am IST

Netherlands’ Max O’Dowd plays a shot during the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup match between New Zealand and the Netherlands.

Netherlands’ Max O’Dowd plays a shot during the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup match between New Zealand and the Netherlands. | Photo Credit: KVS Giri

Only one batter scored more runs than Max O’Dowd in the last T20 World Cup. That was Virat Kohli, someone he has always looked up to.

O’Dowd scored 242 runs for the Netherlands at an average of 34.57 from eight matches in Australia last year. In the Netherlands’ famous victory against South Africa, he had put on 58 for the opening wicket with Stephan Myburgh.

Remarkably, the Dutch stunned South Africa at the ongoing World Cup, too. They then went on to beat Bangladesh as well.

O’Dowd, however, hasn’t been amongst the runs. To be fair, the main batters of the Netherlands have struggled most of the time and it is the men lower down the order — led from the front by captain Scott Edwards — that have invariably performed the rescue act.

All about the momentum

O’Dowd, nevertheless, is delighted that the team has performed well in cricket’s most prestigious tournament. “It was amazing the way we fought back and won against South Africa,” he told The Hindu. “We got the momentum through that fabulous innings from Scott Edwards and his partnerships with Roelof van der Merwe and Aryan Dutt. We were able to take that momentum into our bowling. I guess we just wanted to defend every run like it was our last.”

O’Dowd, who is the first ever centurion for the Netherlands in T20Is, says the way the lower-order has batted at the World Cup has been heartening. “We bat all the way down to No. 11,” he says. “Aryan Dutt comes in at No. 10 and he can hit a ball very far. He has done a lot of work on it. It is good to see different guys contribute. In the match against Sri Lanka, Sybrand Engelbrecht came in at No. 7 and scored 70 from a difficult situation, and that was only his third ODI.”

The Netherlands, however, could not win that match at Lucknow, as the Lankans paced their chase perfectly, with Sadeera Samarawickrama showing the way. “After scoring 262, we really backed ourselves as we felt it was a really good score,” he says. “I think we probably just missed it a little bit with the ball. But then again, I mean the bowlers have been so good for us and the top-order obviously hasn’t scored enough runs.”

Still, the Netherlands has done well to sit above defending champion England and Bangladesh on the points table. The hard work the team has been doing over the last couple of years is paying dividends.

Hard work

The Netherlands had booked the flight to India after finishing ahead of the West Indies, Zimbabwe and Ireland, all Test playing nations, at the World Cup Qualifier earlier in the year. “We prepared hard for the World Cup,” says O’Dowd. “We have done a lot of work on spin camps, spin bowling and improving our footwork, sweeping and all that kind of stuff.”

He says the team is massively proud of the progress it is making. He hopes it will raise the profile of cricket back home in the Netherlands.

“In the last 12 months if you look at the T20 World Cup and this World Cup and the Qualifiers we have been very good,” he points out. “We have had some very good passages of cricket. And now it is just kind of playing even better and reaching new heights which people don’t expect us to. That will boost our profile further, to really boost the profile in a country where cricket is a minor sport.”

O’Dowd, who was born in New Zealand, has been playing for the Netherlands for eight years now. He finds some similarities between the two countries when it comes to cricket.

“New Zealand is such a disciplined side,” he says. “The way they kind of go about their business, they do all the small things. They do all the basics very well and attack when they need to attack. That’s the kind of cricket we want to be playing. And we believe in total cricket.”

Friends and rivals

He grew up playing cricket in New Zealand. “A lot of my friends play over there and I have a lot of mates,” he says. “I have played against Ish Sodhi, Mark Chapman and Kyle Jamieson. I spoke to Ish after the New Zealand game. And my Netherlands teammate Teja Nidamanuru also played there.”

While growing up, his cricketing idols were Sachin Tendulkar and Ricky Ponting. “Ponting was a hard-nosed captain and he had an amazing pull shot,” he said. “And I love the way he goes about his work. Rohit Sharma makes it look so easy, and then K.L. Rahul is another one I like; I think he’s a very classy player.”

O’Dowd loves the experience of playing in India, where he graciously poses for photographs with every fan that requests him.

THE GIST
The hard work the Netherlands has been doing over the last couple of years is paying dividends
The team has done well to sit above defending champion England and Bangladesh on the points table
O’Dowd, who was born in New Zealand, has been playing for the Netherlands for eight years now
Growing up, his cricketing idols were Sachin Tendulkar and Ricky Ponting
O’Dowd loves the experience of playing in India, where he graciously poses for photographs with every fan that requests him

“You know, when I grew up, I admired the likes of Shane Bond, Daniel Vettori and Jacob Oram and taking photos with them was a big deal for me as a kid,” he says. “So I would never want to disappoint.”

One saw that he didn’t, during the party hosted by the Netherlands Ambassador Marisa Gerards at the beautiful Netherlands Residency in New Delhi the other night, as he posed with each one of those fans.

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