Scott Edwards having to think on his feet as Netherlands captain leads team into “home” world T20

Golf acts like a soothing, healing balm on most cricketers’ minds. No wonder it is the most beloved sport of cricketers (writes SM Hussain). The Netherlands cricket captain Scott Edwards is also a great admirer of this sport. “I play a lot of golf in my downtime,” Edwards tells me just a day after turning 26.

His other favorite leisure activity is finding the best brew. “I love my coffee so I spend a fair bit of time at cafes and scoping out where the best coffees are in the Netherlands or when you’re on tour,” he says.

Edwards was born in Tonga and grew up in Australia. “My father’s side of the family is Dutch, they moved over when my grandmother and grandfather met in the Netherlands and my mother’s side is Australian,” he says.

Like most kids in Australia, Edwards grew up playing backyard cricket with his brother and neighbour. “Growing up in Australia and being wicket-keeper my idol was I suppose the obvious Adam Gilchrist.”

At the age of seven, he truly fell in love with the game when he played “official” games in under-10 cricket. He later joined his home club Blackburn South in Melbourne and represented Richmond in district cricket.

“I moved across to the Netherlands when I was 18 and have been doing cricket seasons in the Netherlands and then in Australia for the last five years or so,” he says.

During the first ODI against England in June the Dutch captain Pieter Seelaar got incapacitated due to a back injury and the captaincy was handed over to Edwards.

“The timing of the captaincy came with a bit of a shock. I’ve been vice-captain for the last two or three years working with Pieter Seelaar so actually getting the captaincy I had been trying to prepare myself as much as I could.

“It would’ve been nice to have Piete [Pieter]for the rest of the summer and into the World cup but [with] the back issues he’s been having for the last couple of years, it wasn’t just possible for him. So in that sense, it came as a bit of a shock. I just got to think on your feet and try to do as well as I can in that role [captaincy] I’m still learning.”

Edwards was in phenomenal form against the English team in that series, he scored 72 (not out), 78, and 64 in the three-match series. He seemed at ease against the pace and swing of Sam Curran, Reece Topley, David Willey, and the spin of Adil Rashid and Moeen Ali.

“England being the world champions I’d definitely wouldn’t say they’re an easy bowling attack,” he says.

“They are very disciplined in how they go about their cricket with their batting, bowling and fielding and it was nice to get a few runs against them. Obviously they were pretty convincing in their games against us, where I think for the rest of the summer we’ve been very competitive. They were quite clinical in the way they played their cricket against us for that week.”

In the recent ODI series against Pakistan, Shaheen Afridi had to sit on the bench due to injury and Edwards believes it wasn’t just Pakistan’s loss. “For our batters, you know, we always want to be testing ourselves against the best bowlers in the world so it was disappointing not being able to face Shaheen Afridi, but obviously the Pakistan bowlers that played in place of him were all world-class.”

The visitors had a bit of a scare in the third match of the series in Rotterdam – chasing a target of 207 the Dutch team fell short by just nine runs in the final over of the match. “It was a great experience for us – and to get so close in two games. It’s a little bit disappointing; we feel like that we could’ve easily crossed the line in one of those games if we had done a few things slightly better.”

West Indies, New Zealand, England, and Pakistan – four major Test playing nations – have visited the Netherlands this season, perhaps unprecedented in Dutch cricket history. “These full member series we had this summer have been incredible for our team,” adds Edwards.. “Yeah, you look at the squad we have been playing with; it’s such a young squad.

“In our last game against Pakistan and throughout the summer we had three or four guys under the age of 20 playing in our XIso you know the improvements that those young guys have made over the past six months, as well as the more experienced players. It has been incredible for us as a country and a team. We feel that we’ve competed with these teams throughout the summer. Looking forward, we would love to play against more of these teams and get some wins on the board,” he says.

The Netherlands, along with Zimbabwe, had to qualify for the T20 World Cup in Australia and this eligibility is not only special for Dutch cricket but also their skipper. It will be a homecoming for Edwards. “Qualifying for the world cup was very special for our team. It’s another opportunity to prove ourselves on the world stage and we are very excited about that.

“Obviously growing up and living a fair chunk of my life in Melbourne I’m quite excited to be playing in front of family and friends,, but more importantly for us as a side, it’s another opportunity to hopefully cause a few upsets and have a good World Cup campaign,” he says.

Edwards is delighted with the progress of young cricketers in the country and sees nothing but a bright future ahead. “Dutch cricket is in a very exciting place at the moment. We’ve got a lot of young cricketers coming through that have been performing against these big teams.

“It will be great to see them competing and doing well in world events, but also these young players and more experienced players playing a lot more cricket in franchises around the world.”