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Netherlands v England 2022

Why are the Netherlands far from full strength, despite the ICC’s mandatory release rule?

by Wisden Staff 3 minute read

The Netherlands are missing several first-choice players for the ODI series against England, with some instead playing for their English counties in the T20 Blast.

In theory, any Associate member board such as the KNCB (the Dutch board) can force domestic teams to release players for international duty under the ICC’s “mandatory release” policy.

The policy states that Associate members should always be able to field their strongest side during ICC events against Full Member opposition and it has been in place for well over a decade. The series against England forms part of the Cricket World Cup Super League, an ICC league that falls under the remit of the policy.

However, the Netherlands are without the likes of Colin Ackermann, Roelof van der Merwe and Fred Klaassen, all of whom are playing for their counties in the T20 Blast as opposed to the ODI series. According to ESPNcricinfo, Klaassen, who plays for Kent, is due to fly out for the third ODI on the morning of the match after playing in the Blast the evening before.

The reason for this is that whilst players for the Dutch national side are semi-professional, those with county contracts are full time, meaning players who have deals in England are unwilling to risk those contracts by being unavailable on international duty for long periods of time, making the policy of “mandatory release” much harder to enforce in practice than it appears.

The Netherlands encountered a similar problem in their recent series against the West Indies, with the ICC’s website commenting that, “the words “Mandatory Release” are likely to give Dutch fans shivers, with a number of county-based players again unavailable for selection”.

Speaking to reporters in the Netherlands earlier this week, Dutch captain captain Pieter Seelaar spoke of his frustration with the current situation.

“It’s a question I’ve had to answer now on a number of occasions,” Seelaar said.

“It’s a tough one. We play cricket on a semi-pro basis, rather than a professional basis, whereas the guys who play in England, it’s their livelihood. Is there something different that can be done about it? Well, if you take away all the politics, then everyone should be playing at the highest level possible.

“If you’re playing against England, you can’t get any higher than that. It would have been nice to have them but that’s not how it works nowadays. If something could be changed that would be nice, but I guess it’s very tough.”

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