When the national anthems blare out in Dharamsala on Tuesday ahead of South Africa’s World Cup match against the Netherlands, do not be surprised if you see a number of Dutch players mouthing the words to both.
There are five South African-born players in the Dutch squad, each of them arriving almost by happenstance to be sporting the proud orange jersey in India.
At the top of the order meet Leicestershire batsman Colin Ackermann, who has signed to join Durham next summer, and Sybrand Engelbrecht, once of Western Province.
Somerset’s spinning all-rounder Roelof van der Merwe comes in a bit lower to lend a bit of biff to the middle-order.
Fast medium bowler Ryan Klein, the youngest of the five at 26, and 39-year-old Wesley Barresi, a veteran of the 2011 World Cup, both play their cricket in the Netherlands.
“Ackermann has already showed his class, Barresi and Van Der Merwe are very experienced and very important to the success of the team,” former opener Stephan Myburgh told AFP.
“I’m looking forward to seeing more of Engelbrecht and Klein on the international scene, both of them are extremely good players.”
Pretoria-born Myburgh (39) was a pretty handy player too before he retired after last year’s T20 World Cup.
He made four ODI fifties for the Dutch and smashed a 17-ball 50 in a T20I. He also made an important 37 in the Netherlands’ victory over the Proteas last year which ended South Africa’s hopes in the T20 World Cup.
“It was without doubt a highlight of my career and a day I’m extremely proud off but I did feel extremely sorry for South Africa,” says Myburgh who will be watching Tuesday’s game from his home just north of Rotterdam.
The history of the Dutch settlers in the Cape in the 17th century means there is an element of mixed heritage for many South Africans, making the transition to the Netherlands a relatively straightforward one.
It has also led to a closeness between the teams.
“The Proteas are a nice bunch of guys and are actually always keen to share some thoughts with our youngsters. That’s great,” says Myburgh.
If relations between the sides are warm, Myburgh admits that for some there is an extra desire to shine against the country of their birth.
“I know a lot of players have felt let down by the [South African] system or felt they never got the opportunity and I know they feel very much like ‘I will show you’,” he says.
“For me again it was never like that but there was never a nicer international game than playing against them, and of course I always wanted to win.”
In terms of loyalties for Tuesday, Myburgh is in no doubt.
“I want South Africa to win the World Cup but would love to see the Dutch win this game,” he says. “If I’m honest I give the Dutch team about 5% chance for this game. The Proteas are looking very strong at the moment.”
And as for those South African-born Dutchmen humming both anthems?
“I’m extremely proud to have represented Netherlands but I will always love the country of my birth,” says Myburgh. “So whenever that anthem plays I get goosebumps and just want to start singing along.”
© Agence France-Presse
Photo: ICC/Getty Images