For the next month Somerset North will be closely following the fortunes of two current and one recently former Somerset players who are in international action in The United Arab Emirates.
I was sitting in the Stragglers Coffee Shop on the day after the Yorkshire win in mid-September when I noticed Paul van Meekeren sitting working on his laptop. Van Meekeren had just been released by Somerset so I went over to him and said how sad I was at the news, how I wished things had turned out better for him at Somerset and wished him all the best for the future.
Van Meekeren was, typically both charming and upbeat. In our short conversation he told me how much he was looking forward to the coming months playing for the Dutch national team. He was particularly excited at the prospect of playing in Abu Dhabi & Dubai in the World T20 qualifiers, a 14 team tournament to determine the final 6 teams to play in the finals in Australia next February.
The tournament got under way this week with van Meekeren being joined in the Dutch side by former Somerset team mate Roleof van der Merwe. Josh Davey is playing for Scotland who are the highest ranked side in the competition.
The teams are split into 2 groups of seven in the first stage with every team playing the other teams in the group once. The top team in each group qualifies for the semi finals. The runners up and third placed teams then play-off in effective quarter finals to determine the other two semi-finalists, all four of whom qualify for the World T20 Finals. The final is on 15th November.
But now it gets complicated. To determine the other two qualifiers for the World T20 the losing “quarter-finalists” face another play-off against the fourth placed teams in the group with the two winners, who will head to Australia having to face each other in a play-off for fifth place.
And they have made a perfect 2 from 2 start with wins over Kenya (by 30 runs) and Namibia (44 runs) to sit in second place to Papua New Guinea on net run rate. The other unbeaten teams are Singapore – also in the Netherlands Group – and Oman and Canada in the other group.
The Dutch side who include familiar names Ryan ten Doeschate, Fred Klassen and Tim van der Guten were indebted to a fine bowling performance in their first game allowing them to comfortably defend 166 in which van der Merwe had hit a run a ball unbeaten 21 and, opening the bowling took 1-15. But it was his fellow opening bowler van Meekeren who was the star with the ball taking 3-27.
On Saturday again batting first, ten Doeschate top scored with 59 in a disappointing 140. Again though it proved to be enough with the same two opening the bowling and returning 1-22 and 3-16 respectively. Van Meekeren now has 6-43 in his first 8 overs of the tournament.
Next up for the Dutch is also unbeaten Singapore on Tuesday.
For Josh Davey it has been a mixed start as Scotland failed to chase down 168 by 2 runs. Davey also opening the bowling had the perfectly respectable figures of 2-26 and 2 not out off one ball. The bounced back on Saturday with a 31 run win over Kenya with Davey taking an almost identical 2-25. They face Namibia next also on Tuesday.