Van der Merwe's second coming

Van der Merwe's second coming

All-rounder determined to make his Netherlands shift count

Van der Merwe's second coming

A wily left-arm spinner who can also hit the ball a fair distance, Roelof van der Merwe made his debut for South Africa seven years ago. After experiencing an ordinary stint at the international level, during which he played 13 one-day internationals and as many T20Is, van der Merwe was sidelined in 2010 and the now 31-year-old never made it to the Proteas team again. 

In his attempt to resurrect his career, van der Merwe shifted allegiance to the Netherlands last year and the all-rounder is keen to make his move count, with the World T20 in India, scheduled next month, being his immediate goal. 

“It is nice that I am back playing at international level. My mother is Dutch and hence a part of the decision to shift was due to my family. Every cricketer loves to play at this stage and I am happy that I am back at this level,” said van der Merwe on the sidelines of the Netherland’s training camp here in Alur ahead of their World T20 assignments. 

Van der Merwe admitted that shifting to an associate nation was indeed a challenging task. “There is a huge difference in atmosphere, as far as the game is concerned. The size of the sport is a lot bigger in South Africa. But the players here at the Netherlands are willing to learn and I am enjoying my time. I have got a good bunch of team-mates and we are working hard to produce required results,” said the all-rounder, who made his debut for the Netherlands last year in a T20 game against Nepal.

Apart from his international appearances for South Africa, van der Merwe proved to be an effective all-rounder for the Royal Challengers Bangalore in the 2009 season of the Indian Premier League and was a consistent performer at the first class level. Despite his credentials, van der Merwe believes he still has lot of room for improvement. “I have worked on my game. I believe being a proper all-rounder is valuable for a team and that is one thing I am working hard on,” he said. 

 The Netherlands play Bangladesh in their opening preliminary stage match of the World T20 on March 9 and van der Merwe asserted that his team is up for the challenge. “We are in a tough group and Bangladesh is not an easy opponent. We are preparing well for the tournament. We are trying to work on our batting against the spinners and we are trying to get used to the wickets in India.”

With the International Cricket Council (ICC) deciding to reduce the number of teams for the 2019 Cricket World Cup, the competition amongst the associate nations has become intense and van der Merwe feels the call from the world governing body is unfair. “I don’t agree with the ICC. If you look at games like rugby and football, the World Cups include more number of teams. Associate teams have beaten big teams and reducing the number doesn’t make sense.”