Cricket Behind the Dykes: Playing the Great Game in The Netherlands

Gingins CC Lads complete a memorable tour of the Netherlands by winning the Dutch U14 T20 National Championship.


Back in 2007 when we were thinking of starting Gingins CC, it was the idea of kids playing together as a team, enjoying themselves together around the great game of cricket that motivated us most.

Right from the start of the Club in March 2008, this has been a key focus of everything we’ve done.

We’ve had huge amounts of fun in the process and we’re constantly looking for new experiences for our kids to give them life-long memories of their formative years here in Switzerland, playing cricket with their mates and not missing out on the chances that they would otherwise have enjoyed had their families stayed put in the UK, in Australia, India, South Africa…wherever cricket is played as a serious sport.

Gingins CC lifting the U14 trophy
Gingins CC lifting the U14 trophy

With this in mind, one of our families – the Winckels who are Dutch – came up with a terrific idea about a year ago. Sander said “How about we take a team to tour in The Netherlands?” They do indeed play serious cricket in The Netherlands. I like to remind my English mates (many of who have rediscovered our friendship it seems in recent months) that the last time England played Netherlands, Netherlands won. Indeed, Sander played cricket as a lad and as an adult in The Netherlands and that has inspired his son Floris to take up the sport.

They set about the task with great energy. Sander contacted a large number of Clubs across The Netherlands and Monica organized the logistics. We couldn’t have known what a truly memorable experience awaited us as we boarded our plane in Geneva, bound for Amsterdam on Sunday August 18th.

We took eleven lads with us. We had ten from Gingins CC and one from GRYCC. Nine of the boys were born in 1998, one in 1997 and one in 1999 so we were a mixed U14/U15 team. Typically for Swiss cricket, we had a mixture of nationalities – mostly English but with a few Aussies, a South African, a Swiss/English, a Swiss/Dutch and a Dutch lad to help us understand the oppositions’ sledges!

Monday morning opened with a training camp organized by Voorburg CC. The Club was established in 1932 and has a terrific new clubhouse, grass wickets and an all weather pitch. The head coach there is Australian and he had two Kiwi coaches to assist him. They focused on batting and bowling skills in a two-hour session that included a good mix of kids from all over The Netherlands. This was a good way for us to get the tour started because most of our lads hadn’t played any competitive cricket for two months. We were then treated to a great lunch and, in bright and brilliant sunshine that had broken through after a morning storm – and subsequently lasted the whole week - we took on a team comprising a select group of kids from the camp.

We had a good win in that game, posting a total of 157 for 4 from our 20 overs and restricting VCC to 107 for 4. Really some of the kids weren’t yet ready to face the sort of bowling we had at our disposal but again, it was a fun match and a good way to ease into what we expected to be much tougher games in the week ahead.

The great people at VCC then put on a very fine dinner for us all. We presented the Club with our Gingins CC banner and VCC were so kind as to present us with a beautiful “Delft” pottery tile painted with their logo. This will hang with pride of place in our little room at the Gingins Centre Sportif.

That night, the fun really began because Monica had chosen our accommodation effectively. It was a bungalow/caravan/camping park called Duinrell, in Wassenaar, located in the center of all the venues during the week. The accommodation was fine enough but the best thing was that it had a water park and amusement park attached to it. As residents, our lads had free access to the pool and the amusements and boy, did they enjoy themselves! We later heard stories of all the rides and water slides and how all eleven lads had taken rides and slides altogether; brilliant. The best thing was that us adults could sit quietly with a beer or wine at Monica and Sander’s bungalow reassured in the knowledge that the kids were safe in the park.

Next day we travelled to Schiedam, near to Rotterdam to take on Hermes DVS CC. Hermes CC was established in 1884 so have a wonderful tradition. Again, we were very envious of their excellent grounds and facilities.

We lost the toss – the only loss in the six matches we played – and were put in to bat. We batted for thirty overs, scoring 173 runs for 8 with both openers retiring at 50 and our number three making a rapid-fire 25. It was a good batting performance overall and it proved too big a target for the Hermes lads.

In the end, we had them all out for 79 a.o. through a combination of tight bowling and excellent fielding. Again, we enjoyed a nice dinner with our hosts – who had also put on a fine afternoon tea between innings – and each of us were presented with the Club’s 125 year celebration book. It really was something to think that we had played a Club with such a long tradition when our Club is not even ten years old.

Wednesday was a designated rest day from cricket but the lads did anything but rest. A few folk visited Amsterdam or family nearby but almost all of the lads headed straight to the amusement and water park facilities and spent the morning there. Lunch at 1:00pm was followed by a short bowling practice session before we headed to the beach, just a few kilometers from where we were staying.

Practice on the beach

The lads had a great time – catching practice in the North Sea swimming and just spending time together – before we linked up with returning families from Amsterdam for an excellent meal on the beach. Thursday was an important day – we were competing in the Dutch T20 U14 National Championship – so we had the boys in bed good and early; no rides tonight!

The Championship was organized by Cricket Touring Club de Flamingo’s. Founded in 1921, the Flamingo’s members are generally Dutch cricketers who mostly play or have played at a high level. Since 1925, the Flamingo’s have organized many junior tournaments throughout the season and the Club has a strong relationship with the Royal Dutch Cricket Association.

We were up at sparrows the next day to travel to the Amsterdam CC in Amstelveen which was where the Flamingo’s were hosting the tournament. ACC was established in 1921 and is another magnificent club with great grounds and a terrific clubhouse. ACC was also our first opponent for the morning to get the tournament started. We won the toss and chose to bowl, thinking it would be wise to check out the field and the opposition before venturing to the crease ourselves.

Once again, our bowlers performed brilliantly, restricting ACC to 84 for 7 runs off their 20 overs. It was really pleasing that we really restricted the number of extras, bowled straight and fielded strongly. Again, we made rapid work of the run chase, with both openers retiring at 30 and the rest of the lads mopping up the required runs, with no loss of wickets.

Next up was Hermes DVS CC, the same team we had played over 30 overs on Tuesday. We won the toss and bowled again, restricting the Hermes lads to 100 runs for 8. We decided to reverse our batting order – not without risk – but in the end, we scored the required runs without too many difficulties for the loss of 6 wickets.

Two wins from both preliminary matches meant that we were in the Final, scheduled for 5:00pm. Our lads enjoyed a terrific lunch put on by our hosts, spent some time in the nets and then prepared to play The Hague CC (established in 1878) in the final. HCC are reigning Dutch National champs and are undefeated in the 2013 season. They had scored heavily in their two preliminary matches so we knew we had a challenge on our hands.

We won the toss and again decided to bowl. The HCC openers got off to a flying start – 34 without loss after 4 overs – with the Gingins boys being guilty of some overconfidence in the field. When the first wicket fell – a beautiful ball taking out off stump – the lads regrouped and focused down on the task of restricting the HCC batsmen to a gettable total. The GCC lads did brilliantly in this respect. Again, very few extras and after their allotted 20 overs, HCC were 91 a.o..

You don’t go through a season undefeated unless you can bat AND bowl so we knew we still very much had a match on our hands. This sense was heightened when both our openers – who had scored heavily in all our other matches – found themselves quickly back in the pavilion. We have strength in our depth at Gingins though and our number 3 and 4 batsmen calmly set about moving the scoreboard along.

Our number 4 fell and our number 5 came in with HCC sensing an opening through to our lower order. Great batting from the two lads steadied the ship though and step-by-step they moved toward the very reachable target. Our number 3 fell a few runs short of the total having done terrific work in getting us to that point. This left our number 6 to come out and see the job done in support of our number 5.

As the ball sped away and the batsmen crossed for the winning run, our lads on the boundary celebrated with glee, joining their teammates on the field in a great group team hug. The HCC lads had put up a great fight and though the scoreboard says we only lost 4 wickets in the run chase, really the game was much closer than that suggested.

We had set our sights on a strong performance in the T20 tournament but never could we have imagined that we would have won it. We respect very much the excellent set up we saw at all the Clubs we visited in The Netherlands. What we learned was that our own efforts in Switzerland to build a team and to build the kids’ skills were on par with what was happening in The Netherlands. We also learned that the great efforts over many years of the Swiss Cricket Association (SCA) to foster excellence and strong development in the youth game really was excellent, especially in light of the dearth of grounds, pitches and facilities here in Switzerland. Our win in the Dutch National U14 T20 Championship is a great thing for Gingins but congratulations and credit must also go to the SCA.

Our hosts at ACC put on a terrific BBQ for dinner that evening and there was a wonderful prize giving ceremony. There were cups for the 3rd, 2nd and of course 1st placed teams and we watched with great pride as our boys held the winners trophy aloft, huge smiles covering every face. Really, we were pinching ourselves.

The tour was not yet over though and on the Friday we had a final game against a combined team from Bloemendaal CC (est 1910) and Red & White CC (est 1881). We won the toss yet again and decided to bat; really to set the boys free to see what total they could post. We posted a strong 189 for 6 from 30 overs with two lads retiring at 30 and another coming close. We mixed up the bowling line up again, ensuring that everyone got a bowl and we managed to restrict the opposition guys to 129 for 8 from their 30 overs.

Again our hosts put on a fine post-match meal and we all sat quietly to reflect on what had been a truly exceptional week. Six wins from six matches including the Dutch National U14 T20 Championship was so much more than we had expected. Fun in the water park, amusement park and on the beach on top of just spending a terrific week together in everyone’s company was a priceless gift.

Every boy in the team bowled and indeed every single boy took at least one wicket over the 6 games. Every boy batted and every boy contributed magnificently to the great team spirit we value so strongly, no one stepped backwards in the field. The fielding, overall, was good, with most catches taken and some magnificent throws from the outfield causing run outs.

 

We thank our hosts from all of the Dutch clubs with great warmth. We were left feeling that the Dutch youth cricket program is in strong health and very focused on ensuring the kids have a great experience playing the great game and that everyone was motivated to help and support the kids to achieve whatever they want in the game. The hospitality was second to none, the grounds were brilliant, the respect and spirit in which all games were played was magnificent.

We were invited by CTC Flamingos to come again next year to defend the trophy and we will most certainly do that. Flamingos also noted that the levels between the ages were comparable and so invited us to participate in the U19 tournament next year as well. We certainly will make plans to do so.

Overall, as I sat on the plane flying home on Friday evening, a tremendous week behind us, I reflected on those thoughts I’d had back in 2007; about why we had started the Club in Gingins. We wanted to start a village cricket club with all of the homely spirit that brings and to bring kids from all over the world together to play cricket. We wanted them to be able to develop their cricket skills but above all, we wanted them to learn important life skills – like playing as a team – while having fun. The Gingins CC inaugural tour of The Netherlands ticked all the boxes. The exhausted smiles on all the boys’ faces as we touched down in Geneva told us what a success it had been.

For that we thank the Winckel family for their terrific idea and organization. We thank the Gingins Commune for their unending support of what we’re trying to do – we so hope to have our own field one day. We thank the parents who funded the whole adventure and who allowed their kids to come on the tour. We thank the Swiss Cricket Association for their unending support to youth cricket in Switzerland – so ridiculous that they have been kicked out of ICC Europe, honestly, give me a break.

We thank our great sponsors. Firstly, the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Geneva whose support has allowed us to build two fantastic cricket nets and to buy a bowling machine that together have really helped build the kids’ skills. Secondly, our new sponsor INEOS who have supported us for the first time this year. INEOS’ support has allowed us to buy more equipment to keep the kids skill levels improving.

Finally, and above all, we thank the lads who played such terrific cricket over each and every match. The boys never failed to clap a batsman off, or to clap a new batsman on. They supported each other even when catches were dropped, when wides were bowled or when an innings was cut prematurely short. They moved quickly between overs, showing that they knew something about the game, they bowled and batted beautifully, they respected the opposition, the umpires and their hosts. They tucked their fantastic new GCC shirts in and REALLY looked like a cricket team; they looked like they belonged to a Club. We couldn’t have been more proud of them and for that, each and every one of them deserves a very special mention.

Our team was:

Ale Poynton; Aidan Andrews; Floris Winckel; Alastair MacDiarmid; Josh Thompson; John Cumberland; Simon Pearce: Louis Osborne; Will Robinson; Max Miller; Sam Honegger


Hail Gingins CC! Hail the U14 T20 Dutch National Champions!

For more information on this tour or Gingins Cricket club contact Scott Poynton. You can also read the original article published on the Gingins website and see more photos in gallery.