Kolkata: Ryan ten Doeschate, the Dutch allrounder who is considered to be arguably the greatest cricketer of all time from the associate countries, is looking at one last hurrah in the T20 World Cup coming up in the UAE. The 41-year-old has announced his plans recently to sign off from all cricket at the end of the current season.
The last time the Orange Army of cricket qualified as an associate nation in the showpiece was in the 2009 edition - an appearance that the veteran will cherish in an extraordinary career. Ten Doeschate picked up two valuable wickets with his seam-up bowling as they stunned England at Lord’s in the opening game of the event as 500/1 outsiders.
Back in the tournament after 12 years, the three-time winner of ICC Associate Player of the Year award feels that the mindset of the players of associate countries has changed even more and they are quite capable of pulling off a few surprises in the UAE as well.
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The Dutch find themselves in a first round group with Ireland, Sri Lanka and Namibia, with the top two making it through to the top 12 where the likes of England await.
While Ten Doeschate expects Sri Lanka to be one of the two, he insists the fear factor that previously existed for the so-called minnows no longer exists.
“The associate nations definitely can cause a few surprises, especially in conditions that we’ve seen in the IPL where the wickets look a bit slower and tougher to score. It brings it even closer,’’ he observed.
It’s been nothing short of an extraordinary career for Ten Doeschate, who sought to broaden the horizons for a cricketer coming from an associate country - be it in achieving an icon status with the Essex County with a career spanning over 19 years or making a niche for himself in franchise cricket, which included two Indian Premier League titles with Kolkata Knight Riders in 2012 and 2014.
Asked to sum up his journey, the Dutch-South African told Gulf News in an exclusive interview: ‘‘I almost cannot believe how it went and I am so grateul for the amazing times that I have had. It’s about all the challenges and how often it came right. I occupied this space for 19 years.’’
It was in 2003 when Graham Gooch, the legendary England opener and Essex icon, hand-held him to their Chelmsford ground - a scenic venue which became Ten Doeschate’s home for nearly next two decades.
Looking back at the role of Gooch in shaping his career, he said on an emotional note: ‘‘He was the one mentor that everyone needs, he was massive for me. Gooch literally brought me from Holland to England. Cricketwise, it really worked to my advantage that the T20 cricket started capturing the public imagination with my arrival there.
‘‘It was a great experience to be adopted by a County outside my home and to lead them for long. It gave me real job satisfaction,’’ he said.
Finally, his thoughts about his experience in the IPL? ‘‘More than the cricketing stuff, it was about the collection of so many high quality players in once place like Jacques Kallis, Brendon McCullumn, Brett Lee, Saqib Al Hasan and obviously, Gautam Gambhir. They made me feel so much at home,’’ he added.