Dutch revel in Indian media circus

Updated: Feb 25, 2011, 17:48 PM IST

New Delhi: Way behind soccer and hockey in the popularity charts back home, the Netherlands cricket team is in a state of disbelief at the massive media coverage their braveheart performance in the World Cup has generated as they are used to just 10 minutes of TV space in a whole year.

The Oranje brigade`s impressive show against England in the opening match of the ongoing World Cup has done a world of good for the game back home and the cricketers too are enjoying every bit of media limelight they are getting here.

"It is unbelievable and we are not used to it. Cricket gets just 10 minutes of TV time a year in Netherlands and that too if there are any controversies like the match-fixing scandal, Bob Woolmer`s death etc," the Netherlands team manager Ed van Nierop said with a smile.

"We get just a few millimeters space in papers but now the interest has grown. Just before our first match, Studio Show, the most watched sport show in Netherlands aired a 50 minute documentary on the team and it was widely accepted by the people," he said.

Riding on Ryan ten Doeschate`s all-round heroics, the Netherlands gave a scare to England in their tournament-opener by piling up 292 for six. If not for an inexperienced bowling attack, the Dutch would have created the first upset of the World Cup in Nagpur on Tuesday.

Considering the fact they play most of their cricket indoors and boast of only four professional players, it is a huge achievement for a small nation. The players also know that impressive outings in a big event like the World Cup can generate interest for the sport back home.

"It was a massive performance from the boys when you take into consideration that they play most of their cricket indoors. We last played outdoor in September last year and since then it has been all indoors because you can`t imagine playing in sub-zero temperatures," Nierop said.

"People are not crazy about cricket in Netherlands. Soccer, hockey, swimming and tennis are the main sports there. We have only 5,000 cricket players out of which four – ten Doeschate, Alexei Kervezee, Bas Zuiderent and Tom Cooper -- are professional and 25 are there in the top league," he said.

"We have only one indoor practice facility in Rotterdam and most of the players practice only four times a week. Coming into the World Cup, we just played four practice matches -- against Sri Lanka, Canada in Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe and Kenya in Dubai," he added.

Dutch skipper Peter Borren and and his deputy Bas Zuiderent echoed Nierop`s views and said that in a country obsessed with soccer and hockey, it is difficult to sell cricket but consistent good performances against top teams can turn things around.

"It is difficult for us to sell cricket in Netherlands because it doesn`t have commercial value. It is not a popular sport and it is always a challenge to encourage people to play cricket. But the future of Dutch cricket will grow when we
will come up with good performances like this (against England)," Borren said.

Zuiderent added: "The feedback back home is really positive. We are getting quite a bit of coverage. It is important for us because we don`t come that much in news."