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

Young stars look to shine
By Oliver Brett
BBC Sport Online

As their most realistic chance of winning a match at the World Cup, much attention will be on the Netherlands' clash with Namibia in Bloemfontein on 3 March.

JJ Esmeijer (left) and  Henk-Jan Mol
Esmeijer and Mol look forward to putting Holland on the cricket map
But if they are to have any chance of doing anything sensational in South Africa, the youngsters in the Dutch squad will have to come out of their shells.

The likes of Henk-Jan Mol and JJ Esmeijer showed the latent abilities they possess when producing some strong performances in the 2001 ICC Trophy.

But during 2002, things did not go so well.

Esmeijer knows that just being in South Africa will lift the team's performance and give them the potential to improve.

The 30-year-old, a slow left-arm bowler and an attacking middle-order batsman, has been part of the Academy system based in South Africa.

Joining him will be Mol, who is five years younger than Esmeijer but has been on three previous visits to the Academy.

If we play well in the World Cup, it might create a snowball effect back in Holland
Henk-Jan Mol
They play their club cricket on Sundays, almost always on coconut matting, in a country where the main sports are football, cycling and hockey.

And due to the low-key nature of the sport in their country, it is difficult to persuade their own media to promote cricket any more.

Mol, a left-handed batsman, says: "If Chris Boardman or David Millar [British cyclists] won the Tour de France you would get a snowball effect and cycling would be a huge sport in Britain.

"Similarly, if we play well in the World Cup, it might create a snowball effect back in Holland."

Esmeijer adds: "World Cups are the ultimate in any sport, whether it's hockey, cricket or football. With the right media, cricket has a chance in Holland.

"But the trouble is, in Holland cricket is just not juicy enough for the media - they think it's all about tea-breaks and English villages."

On 20 February in Potchefstroom, Holland are due to play World Cup favourites and holders Australia.

Mol is genuinely in awe of the Australians but is certain that playing against the likes of Shane Warne and Ricky Ponting will be a "wonderful experience."

He adds: "It's quite intimidating in some ways because the only way we get close to these people is on TV.

"It's probably the same feeling that Malta get when they play Italy at football."

The baby of the team is Daan van Bunge, 20, a top-order batsman whom coach Emerson Trotman believes has a big future.

A tall, strapping lad of 6ft 4ins, Bunge started playing the game when he was just five after he and his two brothers saw a poster advertising cricket training on the wall at school.

But, to the frustration of Trotman, the sport is never actually taught within schools in Holland.

Despite the fact that both countries have academies, there is clearly a gigantic chasm between Australia and Holland as far as cricket is concerned.

Links to more Netherlands stories



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