Borren calls time on Netherlands career


AMSTERDAM: Netherlands captain Peter Borren, 34, has retired from international cricket with immediate effect. Pieter Seelaar, the 30-year old left-arm spinner, will take over the captaincy. Jeroen Smits, the former Netherlands wicketkeeper, has been appointed the new team manager.

The Royal Dutch Cricket Association (KNCB) paid tribute via a press release issued on Wednesday evening. Though Borren is only 34, the KNCB’s press release said a “mutual decision” was reached between Borren and the selectors, with an eye towards building a squad for the 2020 World T20 and 2023 World Cup.

Borren had been captain since July 2010, when he took over the role from Smits. Among teams that currently have at least ODI status, the only players with longer ongoing captaincy reigns are Ireland’s William Porterfield and Nepal’s Paras Khadka.

Borren last featured for the Netherlands in the World Cup Qualifiers in Zimbabwe in March, where he could manage just 52 runs in six innings and passed double-figures just once. The Netherlands won just once in the group stage, failing to reach the Super Sixes, before bouncing back with two wins over Hong Kong and Nepal in the playoffs to finish seventh.

Born in New Zealand, Borren was the leading wicket-taker for the country at the 2002 Under-19 World Cup, where he played alongside Ross Taylor, Jesse Ryder, Neil Broom, Rob Nicol and Michael Bates. Three months after the tournament, he began his first season in the Dutch Hoofdklasse for VRA, eventually settling for good in his adopted homeland.

After completing the four-year residency requirement under ICC eligibility guidelines, Borren made his Netherlands debut against Denmark in June 2006, and his ODI debut a month later against Sri Lanka. He ended his career with a total of 58 ODIs and 43 T20Is across 12 years, making him the most capped player in both formats for the Netherlands. He is one of just four Dutch batsmen to score 1000 runs in ODIs, and is their third highest wicket-taker in the format, behind Mudassar Bukhari and Ryan ten Doeschate. In T20Is, he in their third-highest scorer with 638 runs at 19.33, just 24 behind current leader Wesley Barresi. Borren’s replacement as captain, Seelaar, debuted in 2006, the same year as Borren, and has represented the Netherlands in 37 ODIs and 39 T20Is.

Borren played a huge part in the Netherlands establishing themselves as a thorn in England’s side at the World T20. His 30 off 25 balls in a 50-run stand alongside Tom de Grooth while chasing 163 propelled the Netherlands to a famous win over England on the opening day of the 2009 tournament at Lord’s. Under Borren’s captaincy, Netherlands repeated the feat in Bangladesh in 2014, where they won by 45 runs in Chittagong.

But perhaps Borren’s finest hour came earlier in the same tournament, in a stunning chase against Ireland. Needing to get 190 in 14.2 overs to pip Ireland on the net-run-rate tiebreaker for a Super 10 spot, Borren promoted himself to open and produced an inspired effort, his 15-ball 31 setting the tone for a stirring victory.

That win was particularly meaningful as it came just two months after one of the biggest lows in Dutch cricket when a loss to Kenya at the World Cup Qualifier in New Zealand resulted in the loss of ODI status and broke their streak of three consecutive World Cup appearances. The sting of that defeat could have crippled Dutch cricket, with a reduction in ICC funding resulting in the downsizing of central contracts. Instead, it chastened them to work harder to climb back up the world rankings.

Borren was reduced to tears after Netherlands’ triumph in the 2015-17 World Cricket League Championship in December: the conclusion of three years of hard work to reclaim ODI status, and a spot in the upcoming 13-team ODI league, beginning in 2020. It wound up being the emotional climax for Borren as a captain and player.

For all his on-field achievements, Borren was just as well-known for being outspoken in criticising ICC decision-making that resulted in reduced opportunities for Associate teams. It earned him admirers, not just in the Netherlands, but throughout the Associate cricket community.

The KNCB said of Borren: “Peter Borren has been of tremendous value to the Dutch team, leading the national side over the last nine years.

“He has seen the Netherlands team grow into a much more professional set-up resulting in winning the World Cricket League and qualifying for the ODI Championships in December 2017. With his inspirational leadership, Peter has played a more than an important role in this success.”