Zimbabwe have agreed to tour the Netherlands to play three 50-over matches ahead of a Test and limited-overs tour of Sri Lanka in July. The matches are scheduled to be played on June 20, 22 and 24. The news comes after an announcement last month that Zimbabwe will be heading to Scotland for two ODIs on June 15 and 17.
“We are pleased to confirm Zimbabwe will be touring the Netherlands as part of a potentially exciting and competitive five-game programme that will also see us visiting Scotland for two of the matches,” ZC managing director Wilfred Mukondiwa said. “While the tour will give our boys the much-needed game time and a feel of unfamiliar conditions, it will also go a long way in preparing our team for the tougher series away to Sri Lanka.”
Unlike the two matches against Scotland, the three matches against Netherlands may not be classified as ODIs since Netherlands do not currently have ODI status after losing it in January 2014. However, Netherlands currently sit in first place in the WCL Championship – the limited-overs competition featuring the top eight Associates outside of the ODI rankings table – effectively making them the 13th ranked team in 50-over cricket. Zimbabwe are currently 11th on the ODI rankings table, one spot ahead of Ireland but one behind Afghanistan.
Zimbabwe and Netherlands have played each other on two prior occasions in ODIs or T20Is. The first was a 99-run Zimbabwe win at Bulawayo in the 2003 World Cup. They would wait more than 11 years before squaring off again and Zimbabwe were once again victorious, sealing a last-ball five-wicket win in the opening round of the 2014 World T20 in Bangladesh, though Netherlands ultimately progressed ahead of Zimbabwe into the main draw after completing a stunning chase against Ireland.
This is not the first Zimbabwe tour to the Netherlands however. A Zimbabwe XI beat the Dutch by 137 runs at Amstelveen in a 2010 Intercontinental Cup match when Zimbabwe entered a side in the Associate four-day competition to help prepare themselves for re-entry into the Test arena. Netherlands had beaten the same Zimbabwe XI by 58 runs two days prior to the I-Cup contest, bowling them out for 136 in a 50-over contest.
The rivalry between the two countries dates back to the mid-1980s when both played at the Associate level. Zimbabwe and Netherlands met in the tournament final of the 1986 and 1990 ICC Trophy, now known as the World Cup Qualifier, when Zimbabwe were still recognized as an Associate country prior to gaining Test status in 1992. Zimbabwe won on both occasions, by 25 runs in the 1986 final at Lord’s and by six wickets in 1990 at the Hague when Netherlands were tournament hosts, for the right to be the lone Associate representative at both the 1987 and 1992 World Cup.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.