“It’s the hot question at the moment – how do we ride this momentum and actually put structures in place in the Netherlands so that this run that we’re having can be sustainable.”
“I watched a Dutch sports show this morning and they were talking about cricket and laughing about how it’s pretty similar to a nine-to-five job because of how long it takes, and they were making a few other jokes,” van Beek said ahead of Netherlands’ next World Cup game, against Australia. “I hope that after another couple of wins, they can almost stop joking about cricket in the Netherlands and they start talking seriously about how this is actually one of our best sports teams in the country.
“So that’s our aim: to inspire the next generation but also to change the narrative within Netherlands around [how] we’re actually one of the better Netherlands sporting outfits.”
Van Beek, who plays domestic cricket in New Zealand as well as in England, hoped that competing against these much-better-resourced teams would raise the profile of Dutch cricket and lead to greater professionalism.
“So, there’s the attention we’re getting through our performances – through the style we’re playing. Hopefully, there’s more investment into the game from a local point of view, but also international sponsors want to get behind the Netherlands team,” he said. “And that’s all going to kind of have a flow-on effect and result in more contracts, better facilities, more resources, more coaching.
“I look at how New Zealand were 20 years ago. Professional cricket actually started around 2000. And see where New Zealand are right now, and the way they play and the way they go about it. We’ve got in the Netherlands just as many players, and I can’t see why in the next five to ten years we can start being more consistent on the world stage.”
Perhaps, van Beek said, the exposure Dutch players receive from competing in the World Cup will also make them more attractive to T20 franchises around the world.
“This year, I played T20 at Worcester, and played the [World Cup] qualifiers and I also play in Wellington,” he said. “So, even at a smaller scale, I’ve played in four different leagues. Just that experience from all those different leagues – playing with different players and learning off them and then bringing it back to the Netherlands side only strengthens the team. So, I hope that there’s a number of players from this tournament that will be able to play three or four leagues a year.”
Netherlands play Australia on Wednesday – their fifth match of the World Cup. They have only won one and lost three so far, but van Beek is adamant they can still make a charge for the knockouts.
“We’ve come here to reach the semi-finals,” he said. “That’s our goal. It’s been pretty clear throughout the whole preparation phase. And the South African win just gave us that extra belief that the way we’re playing at the moment, on our day we can we can still beat a good team.”