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Last updated: Tuesday, 7 January, 2003, 18:23 GMT

Lefebvre returns to limelight
By Oliver Brett
BBC Sport Online

Roland Lefebvre dives in for the Netherlands
Lefebvre dives in to help the Netherlands
The first ball ever bowled by a Dutchman in a World Cup cricket match was delivered by Roland Lefebvre in Baroda, India, in February 1996.

The opposition, New Zealand, won by 199 runs, but Lefebvre, the present Dutch captain and one of only three survivors from that team, has many happy memories of the tournament.

"It was just a great occasion," he says. "It was a great tournament and it was quite an overwhelming feeling playing against Test nations.

"It was quite daunting. I think we played some decent cricket there. I would have loved to have spent more time in India. In the end we had one game in India and four in Pakistan."

Other than Bas Zuiderent, who plays for Sussex, Lefebvre is the only member of the Dutch squad to have played county cricket.

Lefebvre spent six years between 1990 and 1995 with Somerset, and then Glamorgan, and will be 40 when the World Cup begins.

He is even older than England's Alec Stewart but it also means that he brings plenty of experience to a green-looking Dutch side.

"The margin of error is so much smaller than in county cricket," says Lefebvre of the step-up to top international cricket.

"You are, after all, playing against the best players in the world, so you cannot afford to make the same mistakes you may get away with otherwise.

We are amateurs and have to use up 65 working days preparing for the World Cup
Roland Lefebvre
"In the last World Cup finals we played in, we had a chance to beat England, but we lost in the end by 40 runs or so.

"We had contained them to 270 and managed to hit 230. It was a very, very good game but if we had had a more positive approach to it we might have won."

The novice players in his side will take some time to adjust to the occasion, he reckons.

"From our point of view we need to look up at all the Test nations.

"You see them on the big occasions and then to be suddenly part of that and to be seen as an equal by the huge population of global cricket fans who idolise their own players is quite amazing.

"You are on the same level suddenly as Shane Warne and Allan Donald.

"When you think about it, there are some guys in Australia who are brilliant cricketers but they don't even get selected for their country.

"Now they see us and probably think how lucky we are to be in the World Cup.

"It's the same with Namibia, who were rated to finish eighth in the qualifying competition for the World Cup."

Life is not exactly a stroll in the park for the Dutch team, however.

Lefebvre is keen to point out: "We are amateurs and have to use up 65 working days preparing for the World Cup.

"Half the guys have wives and kids. It's hard enough not to see them but even worse when we can't help them pay for the groceries.

"But of course to participate in the World Cup for everyone it's worth it. For us, it's what we play all our life for."

Links to more Netherlands stories



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