Netherlands rely on 'total cricket' to secure stunning World Cup win over South Africa

Dutch team shocked their illustrious opponents with a 38-run victory in Dharamshala on Tuesday

Netherlands captain and wicketkeeper Scott Edwards, left, starred with bat and gloves in the World Cup win over South Africa. AP
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Netherlands captain Scott Edwards said a belief in "total cricket" led to their biggest-ever World Cup victory following Tuesday's stunning 38-run victory over mighty South Africa.

"Total football" was a concept pioneered by Dutch coach Rinus Michels where players seamlessly rotated in and out of each other's positions, which brought Ajax huge success in the 1970s.

The Dutch cricket team applied something similar on Tuesday.

With the side reeling at 82-5, the bottom half of the order came to the rescue with the bat to post a competitive 245 total, led by the skipper's unbeaten knock of 78.

"As a group, we pride ourselves on playing total cricket which is guys that are coming in at number eight, nine and 10 have just as much of the ability to put on those partnerships," Edwards said.

"Out there batting with them, it was just about giving ourselves a chance to go harder later in the innings."

Roelof van der Merwe (29) and Aryan Dutt (23 not out) walked in at number 10 and 11, smashing three boundaries and four sixes between them.

"Luckily enough, Roelof and Aryan in there played some unbelievable cameos to get us to what we thought was probably round about a par score," Edwards said.

The Dutch players were also seen looking at sheets of information during the match which they had tucked up their sleeves.

"We obviously do our analysis work before games. I suppose the secret's out," Edwards said. "We just have a couple of points there, just to remind us when we're on the field and different guys come in."

Edwards also praised the team's fitness due to the strength and conditioning work put in as the Dutch, the only non-Test playing nation in the tournament, look to advance to the knockout stage.

"It's a brand of cricket that we want to play. And to be able to play that, guys have got to be fit enough," he said. "Most teams around the world are, but that's definitely one of the focus points we have."

As the Netherlands celebrated a famous victory, it was a time of reflection for South Africa, whose early tournament form had them among the contenders for the title.

South Africa were clinical in victories over Sri Lanka and Australia in their first two games, but sloppy and careless in what proved a well-deserved victory for the Dutch in Dharamasala.

"We need to have some conversations with the boys," Proteas captain Temba Bavuma said after a defeat in which his bowlers conceded 32 extras, the second-highest ‘scorer’ in the Netherlands innings.

"The extras, that's something you can control," Bavuma said. "Getting 30 (32) extras, that is an extra five overs and is always going to hurt you.

"That is a conversation for us to have – whether it is skill or a complacency thing – but at the end it did count for quite a lot.

"We definitely dropped the ball there letting them get to 240-plus," Bavuma added. "With the batting, we were still confident in chasing down that score but we didn't get any partnerships. Their double-spin in the powerplay was something we did not adapt to.

"We were clinical against Australia, but the challenge was always to come back and replicate that performance. The fielding wasn't up to standard.

"The guys need to answer the questions themselves about where they were mentally. That's definitely not the standard we'd like to show from a fielding point of view."

South Africa next meet England in Wankhede on Saturday with their opponents also having lost their last outing, to Afghanistan, in what will be a big early match-up in the race for a semi-final place.

"Our campaign is not over by any stretch of the imagination, but you got to feel the emotion of today and come back tomorrow with the head held up," Bavuma said.

Updated: October 18, 2023, 7:21 AM