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Men’s ODI WC: Total football approach, Australian influence behind Netherlands’ thriving team culture

Bengaluru, Nov 12 (IANS) “Total football” was a tactical term coined by Dutch coach Rinus Michels where the highly successful side captained by Johan Cruyff in the 1970s had players moving in and out while retaining the high-intensity and sorted working manner to achieve great success.

When the Netherlands skipper Scott Edwards mentioned the total football concept to his coach Shannon Young, from the Richmond Cricket Club, during the duo’s meeting in New Delhi at the time of the 2023 Men’s ODI World Cup, the duo had an extensive chat about this approach being adopted by the Dutch team.

“It’s a widely accepted cultural thing from my journey at Richmond and my interactions with him. We’ve talked a lot about people and not so much cricket, just leadership in general, and respecting individuals and an understanding that we all have individual differences, but we can contribute to a collective goal,” said Young in a chat with IANS from Melbourne.

“He’s a very good and pretty unassuming guy. There’s not much ego about him or anything like that. From what you hear and see from the players and stuff, he puts a lot of belief and a lot of trust in them. We’ve spent a lot of time talking about how people, particularly cricketers, that if they feel they are backed, and believed in that, more than likely they’ll produce their best results,” added coach Young.

In a tournament roster with 90% being full-time members, the Netherlands had their moments of playing after taking the Qualifiers route for just their fifth World Cup appearance. Before this, they made it to the Super 12 of the 2022 T20 World Cup, where they beat Zimbabwe and South Africa. In the ODI World Cup, they again got the better of South Africa and then defeated Bangladesh, following the process of ‘total football’.

During his time in New Delhi, Young also noted how strong the team culture is on the Netherlands side while finding similarities with the habits at Richmond.

“It’s been on the back of talking to Scotty saying they’re very big culturally wise. When you have a really strong culture, you can see that everyone celebrates each other’s success, and they feel really well.”

“They do all the basics really well and just spending a little bit of time in the hotel with them – just seeing how they interacted everything was great. Like there, it was very rare to see one of them walking around by themselves in a hotel, it was always small groups of three or four, they were out to play golf, always in groups.”

“That was kind of nice as a coach and it was evident that they were well prepared, and seemed to have a really strong culture. Scott had mentioned that there were similarities with Richmond – we are quite big on culture in Richmond, too. So he says there are similarities in what they’re trying to do. They sing the same song with us and there’s a song that they sing after they win.”

“It’s a very Australian thing that you’ve seen a song after sporting events. Our song is a very famous Australian AFL club, a footy song. So they’re singing the same song and they’ve just looked like they’re having the time of their lives, which they should do. He’s a big part of that because he’s spent most of his time at Richmond, where we are all about culture. He’s probably taken a bit of that with him.”

Apart from the Netherlands having a performance coach from Tom Dawson-Squibb, who signed up from last year’s T20 World Cup and him organising a culture camp in Cape Town ahead of the ODI World Cup qualifiers, the combination of Edwards and head coach Ryan Cook has been a big catalyst in changing the team’s fortunes.

Edwards, who has been coached by Young from the time he came to Richmond as a 15-year-old, was thrust into Netherlands leadership once Pieter Seelaar retired from international cricket in 2022. Cook, who got his cricket coaching thoughts shaped by India’s 2011 World Cup winning coach Gary Kirsten, came at the helm once his long-time predecessor Ryan Campbell suffered cardiac arrests in April 2022 and subsequently quit the post.

Young saw up close on how the Edwards-Cook combination has been leading the charge for the Netherlands, right from planning to team meetings and on-field execution, though it didn’t yield the desired result in their match against Australia.

“Scott’s really complimentary of the coach Ryan Cook. They are absolutely methodical in the planning that they do. I believe that the sheets of paper (during the upset win over South Africa) were field placings for particular batters, dimensions of grounds, who should bowl and when.”

“It’s become a very analytical cricket world and matchups and all sides throughout have analysts now. While there’s still an element of gut feel, Scott has got a really good understanding of the game and is quite a methodical guy as well. He’s very systems and processes driven and matches up with a coach like Cook who’s very big on plans and structures to how they do things.”

In a short time, Edwards has presented himself as a selfless skipper who is proactive with his bowling changes and field placements. Off the field, he commands absolute respect and admiration from his teammates. Young places Edwards’ growth as captain on learning from former Australia players Cameron White and Dan Christian at Richmond, as well as influence from his parents.

“A lot of his leadership qualities come from life and, and come from his dad and mom, who are great people. When you have a really strong culture like we do at Richmond, you tend to attract really good people. But you also place a lot of importance on people. We can teach anyone to play better cricket, but we can’t coach effort and attitude.”

“Quite often, even though we get these guys at a young age — 15 and 16 years — it’s an important part of our selection criteria because it’s an invite-only environment. So we’re quite particular about who we invite in, and the players drive a lot of that themselves. Obviously, I’m biased, but I would think absolutely, some of the lessons he’s learned from a leadership perspective have come from his youth premier club in Melbourne.”

The team camaraderie between Men in Orange has been one of the aspects which pleased Cook ahead of their final game against India at Bengaluru on Sunday. “I’ve been very proud personally of the effort that all the guys have put in. We are on the last leg (of the tournament), but you would never know that by being in and around the team.”

“You’d never sort of see a dull moment, the connection between the group, the cohesion, the unity that we stand for is probably even stronger than it’s ever been. So, I think that goes to show the kind of culture that we have and how we are learning and how it isn’t so much about the results as it is about the progression at this stage of our development as a team.”



Indian Abroad News Desk
Indian Abroad News Desk
Indian Abroad is a news channel and fortnightly newspaper meant for Australia’s Indian community and, besides news, focuses on lifestyle subjects like health, travel, culture, arts, beauty, fashion, entertainment, Bollywood, etc. Our YouTube channel here features daily news bulletins besides infotainment videos on lifestyle subjects.

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