The Netherlands have prepared for the “best England possible”, Dutch assistant coach Ryan van Niekerk said of their World Cup clash against the demoralised defending champions. England have lost six of their seven matches in a disastrous title defence and play the giant-killing Dutch at Pune on Wednesday. It’s the penultimate match for both teams and the Netherlands, who stunned South Africa and Bangladesh in the tournament, still rate their opponents with respect. “England are world champions. So, I think they would do what’s necessary. They’ve prepared just as much,” Van Niekerk told reporters. “In South Africa, where I’m from, there’s a famous saying of never underestimate a wounded buffalo. So, I think we sit in a position where England’s one of the best teams in the world.”
Van Niekerk added: “Irrespective of how they’re playing, they can produce incredible performances at any moment. So that’s what we’re preparing for, the best England possible.”
Netherlands, led by Scott Edwards and coached by Ryan Cook, made an early impact in the tournament when they took down high-flying South Africa.
But they lacked consistency and have won only two matches in their seven outings to stay ninth above bottom-place England.
Despite their World Cup campaigns winding down, there is still something to play for with qualification for the 2025 Champions Trophy at stake.
The top seven teams from this World Cup will gain entry into the tournament where hosts Pakistan will have automatic qualification.
“I think if you look at it when we started the tournament the Champions Trophy wasn’t even an option,” said Van Niekerk.
“I think the team has grown immensely over the last two years and coming into the environment, you almost feel like every game means a lot, irrespective of whether it’s playing for Champions Trophy or playing for getting into a semi-final.”
England fielding coach Carl Hopkinson said the team remain inspired to perform despite just one win — over Bangladesh — in the tournament.
“I don’t think there’s ever a dead rubber when you play for England to be honest, I think the lads are completely up for it – we’ve got two games in which we need to win both to qualify for the Champions Trophy,” he said.
Hopkinson, who played for Sussex between 2022-2009, said the team seemed to have buckled under pressure.
“It’s about executing under pressure, isn’t it?,” he said.
“Everybody knows that, and I think this team has been well known for doing that really, really well. It’s an incredibly skilful team, it’s a very talented team, but at key moments in certain situations, we haven’t executed under pressure like we normally do.”
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