A damp flannel wrapped itself around the legs of England’s six-wicket win in the second one-day international against the Netherlands, when the captain, Eoin Morgan, was out for a duck for the second successive game.
While England’s ODI calendar has been empty for 11 months, in international Twenty20 cricket Morgan has not passed fifty in 24 games – and he was unable to scamper even a run at Amstelveen in a seven-ball innings that was put out of its misery when his eyes lit up at a flighted delivery from Tom Cooper, but he managed only a top edge which dropped nicely to backward point.
The boisterous crowd were temporarily silenced as Morgan trudged off – the goodwill that travels with him after he transformed England from limited-overs losers to purveyors of the best white-ball cricket in the world means there is little appetite to replace him, either from fans, teammates or the selectors. But on the day that the Netherlands captain, Pieter Seelaar, announced his retirement with a persistent back injury, small offerings are being made for Morgan’s form and fitness.
Jason Roy, who was presented with his 100th cap before the match by Moeen Ali, with his wife and daughter alongside him, backed his captain all the way. “We won the game, he put it to bed straight away – as soon as the result is there he’s happy,” Roy said. “He’s a knock away from people being all over him again – that’s just the fickle nature of sport. He’s just an incredible worker, he’s an incredible guy so I’d back him, for sure.
“To be involved with a team like this for a hundred games is ridiculous, it is an incredible feeling, it kind of crept up. The first time I batted was against New Zealand, which we’ll forget about. At least the hundredth game was better than my first innings.
“You’re not judged by your cricket in this group, you’re judged as a person, and the energy you bring, how hard you work. You want to do well for the team but if you’re doing badly it doesn’t mean you’re a bad bloke.”
Roy had got England’s run chase off to a rollicking start, dispatching every other ball off the first over, from Logan van Beek, to the boundary: the first rippled past point, the third purred through the covers, the fifth zipped through the covers again. Vivian Kingma got similar treatment in the second over, with two more balls agitating the rope, one straight, the other to backward square leg.
Roy and Phil Salt, who again played with spirit for his 77, put on 139 before Roy came to a tame end for 73. Salt was then bowled by Aryan Dutt which precipitated three wickets in 19 balls as Morgan was caught and Liam Livingstone was foxed pushing forward with his stumps rearranged by Tim Pringle – his first international wicket. A further wobble was avoided when Dawid Malan was given out lbw but reprieved on review.
From there Moeen and Malan pressed on, not in the destructive manner of Jos Buttler and Livingstone on Friday but positively enough for Moeen to lose a ball at the far end of the ground and win the game with 29 balls to spare.
The morning had felt a bit like the clean-up after the Friday night party, the weather damp and chilly enough to permit socks and sandals, the largely good-natured crowd taking the delayed start in their stride. The wet patch by the side of the pitch eventually dried enough for the umpires to give it the OK and the match, reduced to 41 overs a side, spluttered into action at 1.45pm.
England quickly reduced the Netherlands to 36 for three, after Vikramjit Singh hooked half-heartedly at David Willey and was caught by Brydon Carse; Max O’Dowd, hair flowing out of the back of his helmet, juddering down the wicket like a latter‑day Viking, slog-swept at Adil Rashid and was well snaffled by Malan at square leg; then the impressive Carse had Cooper lbw with his second ball.
An air of disappointment briefly settled over the crowd, but that soon dispersed thanks to a DJ who dealt out a series of perfectly pitched bangers that had Roy jiggling along and a fantastic innings of 78 off 73 balls by the new captain, Scott Edwards, in partnerships of 61 with Bas de Leede and 73 with Teja Nidamanuru.
Edwards – a slightly built 25‑year‑old – was born in Tonga but grew up in Australia, qualifying for the Netherlands via a Dutch grandmother. He landed in Europe as an 18‑year‑old, to play club cricket for Excelsior, in Schiedam, in 2015. Though he did not make an instant impact, three years later he was in the Netherlands team and he has been their highest scorer in the World Cup Super League. His deftness of touch, power and originality might well have caught the eye of a watching county side, already thinking about next season.
De Leede led the way, first smashing a window in the press box before bringing up the fifty partnership with a dancing four down the ground off Moeen shortly before being caught at mid-on trying to go long but managing only to go high.
Edwards then took over, pancaking Livingstone over square leg, reaching his fifty with a six back over Carse’s head, before reverse‑ramping Willey for six.