Famed for their football team and a couple of darts players, the Dutch probably didn’t have too much faith in their national cricket side ahead of last year’s ICC World Twenty20.
The opening ceremony at Lord’s was intended to showcase all that’s good about cricket in England but even when the opening ceremony was cancelled due to wet weather, few would have imagined that the Netherlands would rain on England’s parade.
For Dirk Nannes, Notts Outlaws’ second overseas signing for the revamped Friends Provident T20, the tournament served as an opportunity to play on the world stage with a team largely consisting of keen amateurs. Needing two runs from the final ball to win, number eight batsman Edgar Schiferli scuffed tha ball back to Stuart Broad whose overthrown run out attempt missed the stumps and allowed the Dutch to scamper to victory.
A year on from their famous victory, the Netherlands will compete in the 2010 tournament as 1000-1 outsiders whilst Nannes will represent Australia, the tournament favourites.
“Beating England at Lord’s was easily the highlight of my cricket career so far,” says Nannes, who was his side’s most economical bowler on the day.
“It was great to be involved with a group of guys who were rank outsiders playing cricket only because they loved it and weren’t necessarily paid to do it. It was so refreshing to be part of that squad and we shocked the tournament by pulling it out of the bag in the opening match.
“When we first arrived the guys were a bit tentative and overawed but we spoke about playing with freedom and everything worked out.
“I was 33 years old, I hadn’t even made Australia’s 30-man World Twenty20 squad and that told me I was nowhere near their plans. I had an opportunity to go to a global tournament and it was too good an opportunity to miss. After the tournament I went straight into the Australian side for their next Twenty20 game and now I’m hoping to be on the plane to the West Indies.”
A man for the big occasion, Dirk’s recent retirement from first class cricket has allowed him to focus exclusively on shortened formats of the game. A key component of the Victoria Bushrangers bowling attack, he has participated in two editions of the Indian Premier League and is more than happy to be labelled as a Twenty20 specialist.
“I love everything about Twenty20 cricket,” he says.
“You get a result after a few hours, it’s not as hard on the body as three and four day cricket and it allows me to spend time with my family so the format suits me.
“The experience of the IPL is completely surreal but I love every minute of it. It’s off the wall and there’s a lot going on but it’s very well organised and last year in South Africa it ran like clockwork.
“I’m not used to getting recognised but when you walk down a street in India, everyone knows who you are because they are so passionate about their cricket.
“I’ve become used to playing in big games because for the past three years, it seems that every game I’ve played in has been a big game. When you shorten the format, every ball becomes important.
“I feel that I’m bowling better than I’ve ever bowled but I’m still improving and I’m not sure whether I’ve hit my peak or whether it’s still approaching.”
Nannes has taken the scenic route to cricket prominence. Born to Dutch parents, he competed as a mogul skier on the World Cup circuit for several years and earned his first professional cricket contract with Victoria as a 28 year old in 2005.
He maintains a passion for snow sports and has enjoyed success with Global Snow Tours, the company he founded and runs with his wife Erin.
“I came to cricket really late and I was so focussed on my skiing in my teenage years that I never had any ambition to play professionally,” he says.
“The only time I focus on cricket is when I’m on the field and, for me, it’s very important to be able to switch off and focus on other things. I’ll walk off after a match or training and get straight into my emails. The business is the perfect distraction for me.”
Nannes plans to fly straight from the ICC World Twenty20 in the West Indies to Nottingham giving him ample time to prepare for the Outlaws first home fixture against Derbyshire on Friday 11 June.
His friendship with Trent Bridge favourite David Hussey was a major factor in his decision to join Notts and he’s keen to endear himself to his team mates and supporters.
“Dave Hussey approached me at Victoria and said that Notts were interested and would give me a call and his endorsement was a big factor in why I wanted to sign,” says Dirk.
“Whenever you walk into a new club it takes time to get to know everyone but having Huss there will help me to settle and get amongst the rest of the guys.
“I’ve got a decent amount of experience of English conditions but certain things work here that don’t work elsewhere and certain things get punished by batsmen. I tend to bowl a bit straighter here because if you don’t, you find yourself getting flicked off towards third man.
“I’m coming to Notts because I think the team can be successful in this tournament. Huss is a great player and the whole team looks good on paper so we’ll be looking to win it.”
Updated April 2010