A series that might have provided England with a stumble or two turned into a stroll near the Amsterdamse Bos – the park that borders the VRA ground, where locals are doubtless still finding balls hit there by Jos Buttler last Friday.
Set 245 to complete a 3-0 clean sweep over a spirited but limited Dutch side weakened by county duties, England were sped by home by a superb century from Jason Roy, with eight wickets and almost 20 overs to spare.
There were also runs for Buttler, who added five more sixes to the 14 he hit in the series opener, and four wickets for David Willey, who finished the series with eight, five more than anyone else.
Jason Roy scored his 10th ODI century to guide England to a comfortable victory over Holland
Jos Buttler also impressed as he added another 86 runs to his growing ODI runs tally
It all leaves England within one-tenth of a point of going joint-top of the ODI rankings with New Zealand, after losing the No 1 position to them in May 2021. Sterner tests lie ahead, starting with series against India and South Africa, but this was a dominant start to the white-ball summer.
For Matthew Mott, the new limited-overs coach, there could hardly have been a more relaxing entree. He has spent the nine days in Amsterdam on a largely watching brief, making notes, getting to know players and staff – and possibly patting himself on the back for taking the job in the first place.
He began by witnessing England’s world-record 498 for four, and has hoovered up good impressions along the way – from opener Phil Salt, whose 49 on Wednesday took his series haul to 248 runs from 177 balls, to Gloucestershire’s 31-year-old left-arm seamer David Payne, who deserved better than one for 38 on his debut.
The only cloud on England’s horizon has been the form and fitness of Eoin Morgan, who made ducks in the first two matches, then sat out the third because of a groin strain he had previously suffered at Middlesex.
The party line remains straightforward: anyone can fail twice with the bat, and Morgan is the undisputed leader. Even across the North Sea in Leeds on Wednesday, Test captain Ben Stokes was arguing that ‘the press are the only ones giving him a hard time’, which took little account of the grumbling on social media.
Buttler, too, defended the man he had temporarily replaced. ‘There’s certainly no questioning of his position form within the camp,’ he said. ‘I can’t put into words what he’s achieved.
Roy and Buttler took the game to the Dutch attack and sealed the win with 119 balls to spare
‘Everyone always talks about his captaincy, but you forget what a brilliant batsman he’s been for England in over 200 ODIs. That doesn’t just go away overnight. Everyone in the team is backing him.’
Morgan will always be a towering figure in English cricket, the driving force behind the white-ball revolution that began in 2015 and, even now, their guiding hand. What he says, goes.
But there were signs even at last year’s T20 World Cup that he was beginning to lose touch with the team’s bigger hitters, and this trip has done nothing to reverse the trend.
Morgan will be 36 by the time England begin their next T20 World Cup campaign, in Australia in October. And if the 50-over format can more easily accommodate a batsman on the wane, 20-over cricket is less forgiving.
In his place, Buttler was typically calm with the gloves, smartly stumping Teja Nidamanuru off the economical Adil Rashid, and explosive with the bat, finishing with an unbeaten 86 from just 64 deliveries.
Salt fell one short of his half-century after he was bowled leg stump by Paul van Meekeren
He is 31 and agreed after the game that he was in the form of his life. He is relaxed, too, about not playing Test cricket. ‘I haven’t had any conversations with anyone about that,’ he said. ‘I’m very happy at where I’m at the moment. It might not ever be a question that has to be answered.’
One six from off-spinner Aryan Dutt over midwicket was pure timing. Next ball, he leant back to swat Dutt over mid-off, as if he was knocking the top off a tulip. It seems ludicrous that he went into Wednesday’s game ranked 29th in the world by the ICC.
Buttler’s first deed of the day had been to put the Netherlands in, depriving the crowd of another England tilt at ODI cricket’s first total of 500.
But it did allow him an early look at Payne, who was halfway through celebrating his first international wicket when Liam Livingstone was blinded by the sun at midwicket, and pulled out of a simple catch that would have removed Tom Cooper for a duck.
Later, Payne was rewarded for his accuracy and variations when the Netherlands captain Scott Edwards – who made his third half-century of the series – mistimed a slower ball to mid-on.
David Willey took four wickets to restrict Holland to 244 from their 50 overs in Amstelveen
That was part of a collapse of seven for 41 after the Dutch had moved to 203 for three in the 39th over. But they had become bogged down by the spin of Rashid and Livingstone, and lacked the power to cash in later. Willey proved adept against the lower order.
Salt and Roy then put on 85 inside 10 overs, before Paul van Meekeren bowled Salt and Dawid Malan round his legs for a second-ball duck.
After that, it was one-way traffic, typified by an accidental double-bouncer from van Meekeren that Buttler followed down the leg side and walloped into the stands behind square leg. The next ball, a free hit, disappeared down the ground for another six.
Roy eased his way to an 86-ball hundred, and when Buttler wrapped up the game by hitting Tim Pringle for yet another six, England’s tally across the three games was 34.
The Dutch will be sorry to see England go – but perhaps not that sorry.
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