EXCLUSIVE: Three years on from delivering food for Uber Eats, Netherlands star Paul van Meekeren on playing ‘Total Cricket’ at the World Cup, how he is plotting England’s downfall and why the Dutch need more opportunities
- Netherlands face England in Pune in the Cricket World Cup on Wednesday
- The Dutch have secured memorable victories over South Africa and Bangladesh
- Fast bowler Paul van Meekeren has picked up 10 wickets in the tournament
Paul van Meekeren is probably tired of getting asked about the same tweet but I bring it up anyways. In November 2020, the Netherlands bowler was working as an Uber Eats delivery driver in Bristol after the T20 World Cup in Australia was postponed due to the pandemic.
Van Meekeren tweeted: ‘Should’ve been playing cricket today. Now I’m delivering Uber Eats to get through the winter months. Funny how things change hahaha keep smiling people!’
‘It made me a better person. Uber Eats was actually a stepping stone and during that time, I worked part-time for a software company in Chesterfield too,’ Van Meekeren tells Mail Sport.
‘In that first lockdown, I set up a Dutch Players Association too. All of those experiences made me a better person and actually make you enjoy your cricket more as you appreciate how lucky you are. People talk about life after cricket and those experiences will set me up for life after the game,’ he adds.
Van Meekeren was released by Gloucestershire in September but three years on from that tweet, he is part of a Dutch team who are the only side other than Indian to beat South Africa at the 2023 World Cup and after taking four wickets against Bangladesh to pick up their second win of the tournament, he insists they aren’t just in India to make up the numbers.
Paul van Meekeren is enjoying a starring role for the Netherlands at the Cricket World Cup
Just three years ago, Van Meekeren was working as an Uber Eats driver to make ends meet
The Netherlands have secured memorable victories against both South Africa and Bangladesh
‘I don’t think it’s a surprise anymore for us to beat these teams. It’s always good to get cricket further on the map in the Netherlands but it shows that we should get more opportunities against the big teams,’ says the 30-year-old.
‘Regardless, this is a successful tournament for us and we’ve found out the top eight qualify for the Champions Trophy so that would be a strong statement. The boys are making some heavy waves I guess,’ adds Van Meekeren.
He credits the Netherlands’ success to playing ‘Total Cricket’ which is what their coach Ryan Cook calls their style of play after doing some research into Johan Cruyff.
‘We’re playing total cricket which means that everyone’s contributing and complimenting each other and that gives us another level. Against Bangladesh, we could have had four man-of-the-matches. We feel we should have won even more games and that’s the confidence and belief we’ve got,’ he says.
Van Meekeren, who was born in Amsterdam, insists that the Dutch are out to prove a point to the ICC who reduced the 2019 and 2023 World Cup to ten teams. The tournament will return to a 14-team format in 2027.
Van Meekeren argues his side’s displays mean they deserve more chances on the big stage
He also explained how they are plotting the downfall of Jos Buttler’s struggling England side
‘It’s everyone’s dream to beat big teams but our team has moved on from having that as a standard. We want to win every game. That’s the team culture that we have created. We want to prove people wrong. We want to prove the ICC wrong for cutting down on teams at these tournaments and we want to prove them wrong because the limited amount of funding that we get is stopping the development of cricket. Only if we get similar funding to the top teams will we be able to make big strides and turn the game into more of a global sport,’ insists Van Meekeren.
‘The only way to show people is to win games and get the spotlight on you. Even Afghanistan are doing well and I actually joke with the guys that: “Damn it, they’re taking the spotlight away from us by beating big teams!”
Netherlands take on England in Pune on Wednesday and it’s a fixture that the seamer has his eye on, with Jos Buttler’s side enduring a miserable tournament and Scott Edwards’ side only growing in confidence.
‘They’re a dangerous team but looking at their results and looking at ours, why can’t we beat them? There must be some doubts in that changing room. There’s probably no better time to play England,’ says Van Meekeren. No better time, indeed.
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