Borren replaces Smits as Netherlands captain for ICC Intercontinental Cup match in Aberdeen
The Netherlands has suffered a body blow with inspirational captain Jeroen Smits pulling out of its ICC Intercontinental Cup match against 2004 champions Scotland, starting on Thursday (2 August) at Mannofield Park in Aberdeen.
Smits, a veteran of the 2003 ICC Cricket World Cup campaign and the man who took over the leadership of the side from Luuk van Troost at the end of the 2007 tournament in the Caribbean, misses the Scotland game because of work.
But coach Paul-Jan Bakker believes his players can make light of Smits' absence and continue the momentum gained during a come-from-behind victory against Canada.
Bakker said: "Smits has work-related commitments and is not available for the Scotland game.
"In his place, Peter Borren will lead the team. However, I am sure that the boys will not be affected by this latest setback and will keep the momentum going."
Although Smits’ contribution with the bat in the 45-run victory over Canada in June was only 0 and 8, his five catches behind the stumps and fine leadership were key factors in the side's success.
Borren, who turns 24 this month, scored a brilliant 105, his maiden first-class century, to help the Netherlands score 310 in the second innings to set Canada a 271-run target and Bakker, a former fast bowler and member of the ICC CWC squad in 1996 who has taken over as coach from Peter Cantrell, is now challenging the player to repeat his form in Scotland.
"Peter is an excellent batsman and has shown his talent on more than one occasion. But he can’t live on tales and will need to start all over again," he said.
"While saying this, I am sure he is also looking forward to the new challenge and will try to make the most of it."
Proven performers Bas Zuiderent and Ryan ten Doeschate, who both missed the Canada game, remain unavailable, while seamers Edgar Schiferli and Mark Jonkman, and off-spinner Adeel Raja have pulled out through injuries, but Bakker thinks the absence of Zuiderent and Doeschate will give more exposure to the youngsters.
"We can’t have a full strength team all the time, which means there will always be opportunities for the youngsters. Now it is for them to take advantage of this and cement their places," he added.
In that last match against Canada the Dutch gave first-class debuts to all-rounder Mudassar Bukhari, middle-order batsman Atse Buurman and leg-spinner Mangesh Panchal.
Bukhari and Panchal made dream debuts with the former scoring 66 not out and 33 as well as taking 3-93 while the latter had match figures of 17-1-88-5, including a match-winning spell of 4-50 in the second innings.
"I was delighted with the attitude and approach of my boys in the first match and want to see that continue but we have to keep patient," said Bakker.
The Dutch coach added he remains wary of the Scots' strength. "Scotland is a strong team and we respect them. But I understand that they will also be without some of their key players.
"I think we both are in a situation where we have to fill gaps and hope that the youngsters will raise their hands, take responsibility and fill those gaps," added Bakker.
Contrary to the Netherlands, Scotland’s ICC Intercontinental Cup opener against the United Arab Emirates in Ayr was ruined by rain and only 46 overs of play was possible.
The quadrangular series that followed, also involving the West Indies, Ireland and the Netherlands as well as Scotland was also affected by bad weather.
Captain Ryan Watson realizes the significance of the Netherlands match and said: "We are keen to do well in this competition so it’s very important, after the UAE match was washed out, that we make the most of our remaining home games and take maximum points."
Canada, despite losing to the Netherlands, is on top of the table with 26 points from two games, followed by the Netherlands (14 points from one game) and, UAE and Scotland (three points from one game each). Bermuda, Ireland, Kenya and Namibia have yet to make an appearance.
Besides the weather that has limited team preparations, Watson’s other concern is the unavailability of some players because of work commitments. "Obviously, as our preparations are already limited by player availability because of their work commitments, we have been somewhat handicapped of late," he said.
"But the Dutch also fell foul of the weather (in the quadrangular series) and are in similar circumstances, while they also play a lot on matting."
Scotland has recalled 20-year-old fast bowler Richie Berrington, who has played just one first-class match, and 27-year-old pacer Gordon Drummond, who has appeared in four first-class matches, for the Aberdeen clash.
Veteran left-hander Gavin Hamilton, along with Dewald Nel and Glenn Rogers will return to the Scotland squad for the side’s third match against Ireland starting in Stormont, Belfast from 9 August.
"We have a high regard for the Dutch who defeated us in our last full encounter and they had us in trouble in Ireland (in the quadrangular series). We are a fair match for each other, so we will need to be on top of our game to beat them."
The ICC Intercontinental Cup has quickly grown in stature and profile since its inception three years ago and now ICC's premier first-class tournament is an integral part of the Associate Members’ cricket schedule.
Having previously been designed around a two-group, three-day format, the event has evolved into an eight-team, round-robin and truly global tournament featuring four-day cricket which gives those teams which do not play Test cricket the chance to experience the longer form of the game.
An indication of the enhanced stature of the tournament is the presence of Steve Bucknor, the most senior official on the Emirates Elite Panel of Umpires, as one of the Umpires in Aberdeen. Ireland’s Charlie McElwee will join Bucknor in the middle.
Scotland won the first ICC Intercontinental Cup in 2004, beating Canada in the final, while Ireland has been victorious in both events since then, beating Kenya in the 2005 decider and Canada earlier this year in the 2006-07 event.
The final of the ICC Intercontinental Cup 2007-08 will take place in November 2008 at a venue yet to be decided.
Netherlands (from): Peter Borren (captain), Mudassar Bukhari, Atse Buurman, Tom de Grooth, Alexei Kervezee, Geert Maarten Mol, Mongesh Panchal, Jelte Schoonheim, Pieter Seelaar, Nick Statham, Eric Szwarzcynski, Somesh Kohli.
Scotland (from): Ryan Watson (captain), Richie Berrington, Fraser Watts, Craig Wright, John Blain, Gordon Drummond, Majid Haq, Omer Hussain, Paul Hoffmann, Ross Lyons, Qasim Sheikh, Neil McCallum, Simon Smith.
Umpires: Steve Bucknor (Emirates Elite Panel of ICC Umpires) and Charlie McElwee (Ireland)