Netherlands all-rounder Engelbrecht’s winding road from ‘catch of the century’ to World Cup
The Johannesburg-born all-rounder made a fine 70 to lift his adopted country, the Netherlands, to a respectable total of 262 against Sri Lanka but lost by five wickets.
Netherlands’ Sybrand Engelbrecht celebrates his half-century during the match against Sri Lanka in the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023, at Ekana Cricket Stadium in Lucknow on Saturday, October 21, 2023. (ANI Photo)
India Weekly Staff
SYBRAND Engelbrecht has taken a long, winding road to the World Cup, from a “catch of the century” contender as a junior to walking away from cricket altogether.
However, at the age of 35, the Johannesburg-born all-rounder made his mark on Saturday (21) with a fine innings of 70 to lift his adopted country, the Netherlands to a respectable total of 262 against Sri Lanka.
It was in vain as the 1996 champions eased to a five-wicket victory but at least Engelbrecht had the opportunity to showcase the skills which once made him a top junior.
Engelbrecht found a degree of fame at the Under-19 World Cup in Malaysia in 2008 where South Africa were runners-up to an India side featuring Virat Kohli.
In a group game against Papua New Guinea, he pulled off a stunning flying catch which was dubbed one of the catches of the century.
“The only thing missing is a cape,” said a breathless commentator.
But those heroics failed to translate into senior glory and in 2016, Englebrecht retired from cricket, weary of scrambling around in the domestic game.
He went back to university, built a career in finance before moving to the Netherlands.
“I started playing again predominantly just to kind of make friends and integrate into the community,” said Engelbrecht on Saturday.
It was only in July this year that Engelbrecht even became eligible to play international cricket for the Dutch.
He missed the World Cup qualifying tournament in Zimbabwe and only made his debut against New Zealand in Hyderabad in the Netherlands’ second game in India.
Before Saturday, he had made 29 against the Kiwis and 19 in his team’s stunning victory over South Africa.
“Only this year in July I think I became eligible to play for the Netherlands. So, I spoke to (coach) Ryan (Cook) and asked, look, would you be interested in me putting my name in the hat?
“And he was brutally honest, because the team did really well to qualify and get us here. So, he said, absolutely the broader the pool, the better for them.”
“And here we are, yeah. Very happy to be here.”
On Saturday, Engelbrecht and New Zealand native Logan van Beek helped the Dutch recover from 91-6, putting on a partnership of 130.
It was a World Cup record for the seventh wicket bettering the 126 between Kapil Dev and Syed Kirmani against Zimbabwe in 1983.
The partnership ended when left-arm seamer Dilshan Madushanka clean-bowled Englebrecht for 70 with the score on 221. Van Beek was eventually dismissed for 59.
“I must admit it’s still a bitter pill to swallow,” Engelbrecht said after the defeat.
“Maybe the pitch got a little bit better, but I thought they controlled the innings really well. And we just didn’t quite pitch up today with the ball, unfortunately.
“So, yeah, not the ideal result for us, but we’ll move forward and we’ll try and be better and learn from this as quickly as possible.”