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Marsh happy to vacate opener’s slot for Head in Dutch clash

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NEW DELHI: Australia’s Mitchell Marsh could not confirm if opener Travis Head will be back for Wednesday’s World Cup clash against the Netherlands but is ready to move down to number three as and when his team-mate returns.

Head fractured his left hand in South Africa last month but has linked up with the squad in New Delhi where the five-time champions will be chasing a third win in five matches.

Marsh, who made 121 and 52 in his last two outings at this World Cup, said Australia would take a call on Head’s participation later on Tuesday.

“He [Head] looked good, a bit of range-hitting last night,” Marsh told reporters. “He says the hand feels good. So, I’m sure if he’s fit, he’ll be available for selection in the team.” Head’s return as David Warner’s opening partner would mean Marsh would need to drop down to number three and the all-rounder said it would be a familiar role for him.

“Very happy to go back down to three. I’ve obviously batted there a lot over the last couple of years, so I feel really comfortable at three.

“And if and when Heady comes back in, I think that’s the best position for me to play for this team.”

Dwelling on the task ahead, Marsh said they could not afford to underestimate a Dutch side, who stunned South Africa earlier in the tournament.

“We’ve said it multiple times now in this tournament this year, there’s absolutely no easy games.

“Tomorrow is no different for us. We respect the Netherlands, they’re playing some good cricket and that will be a tough challenge.”

Meanwhile, Netherlands fast bowler Logan van Beek said the World Cup giant-killers have had enough of the “jokes” and “laughing” at their expense.

The Dutch, who insist they harbour dreams of reaching the semi-finals, stunned South Africa, one of the tournament title favourites, last week.

That gave them a first win of the 2023 event and first in their history over a Test-playing nation at a 50-over World Cup.

However, back home in the Netherlands, where sports such as football and tennis dominate headlines, cricket still struggles to be taken seriously.

“I watched a Dutch sports show this morning and they were talking about cricket and laughing how it’s pretty similar to a nine to five job, how long it takes, and they’re making a few other jokes,” said Van Beek.

“I hope that another of couple wins, they can almost stop joking about cricket in the Netherlands and they start talking seriously about how this is actually one of our best sports teams in the country.”

On Monday night in the Netherlands, presenters on a primetime TV talk show “Avondshow with Lubach”, which boasts 1.2 million viewers, joked the Dutch win over South Africa was bigger news “overseas than here.”

The host added: “Suddenly I’m extremely proud about something I know absolutely nothing about!”

The pair also poked fun at the majority of the Dutch squad in India hailing from South Africa, New Zealand and the sub-continent.

New Zealand-born all-rounder Van Beek said he and his team were desperate to silence the critics.

“We want to inspire the next generation but also to change the narrative within the Netherlands,” he said.

The 33-year-old Van Beek and his team have suffered three defeats at the World Cup and on Tuesday were sitting in eighth place in the 10-team tournament.

Defending champions England and 1996 winners Sri Lanka were below them.

The Dutch, who also stunned South Africa in the 2022 T20 World Cup in Australia, take on five-time champions Austra­lia in New Delhi on Wednesday.

Van Beek insists the Dutch are capable of pulling off another upset.

“Why not? We’ve come here to reach the semi-finals. That’s our goal,” he said.

“It’s been pretty clear throughout the whole preparation phase. And the South African win just gave us that extra belief that on our day we can still beat a good team.”

The Dutch — ranked 14th in the world — reached India the hard way, coming through qualifying in Zimbabwe in the summer where they defeated two-time world champions West Indies.

“So, there’s the attention we’re getting through our performances, through the style we’re playing,” said Van Beek, who played a key part with figures of 3-60 in the South African win.

Published in Dawn, October 25th, 2023


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