Paul looks back on his busy winter
Before heading off with the rest of the squad to Desert Springs last week for the pre-season training camp, Paul van Meekeren sat down with us to talk about his busy winter.
The fast bowler was part of the Netherlands squad that competed in the recent Desert T20 tournament but things didn’t go quite as he’d hoped. “We didn’t play as well as we would have liked,” he said. “We beat Oman and then our second game was against Scotland, which we lost. From the position we were in, we shouldn’t have lost that game but we struggled with the bat. The next game was against Hong Kong and I think we were still struggling with the Scotland defeat and we never even got close in that game. It wasn’t the tournament that we had hoped for and it was a bit disappointing.”
It was certainly a hectic winter for the 24 year old who didn’t have to wait long before getting back out on the field, as he explained. “After the Desert T20 I spent about nine days in Amsterdam catching up with family and friends but then it was off to Abu Dhabi for a prep week ahead of a four-day game and two one-day games against Hong Kong. During that week we played in a massive sand storm! Players had to keep coming off with really sore eyes because they were full of sand! I have never seen cricket played in conditions like that before. Despite that it was a really good week and we got some valuable work done before our trip to Hong Kong.
“We started off with the four-day game. We began slowly in that match but were able to fight back in the closing stages to get a very good draw. After a couple of days off we had two crucial one-day games against Hong Kong in what was their first home series. We posted a good total but they looked like they were going to chase it down. Somehow we pulled it back and managed to win by just a few runs. We played them again two days later and this time I felt like we were one step ahead of them at all times and we won again to take the series 2 – nil. That meant that we were top of the table in the World Cricket League with four games left. If we win all four we get our ODI status back so things are looking pretty good for Dutch cricket at the moment.”
How did Paul think that he performed? “I didn’t get the amount of wickets that I wanted especially in the one-day games,” he said. “Having said that I felt that I was able to restrict the opposing team well. Not allowing them to get momentum is something that I’m quite proud of. I think I showed a bit of patience by trying to bowl as many dot balls as possible. I also had the challenge of bowling at the death, which I haven’t done very often. I think that went pretty well and we got a couple of wins.”
Paul has been working hard at the Cooper Associates County Ground since the end of last season and feels like his hard work could pay off this year. “The results came back quite positively in testing week and they are an improvement on where I was before,” he explained. “I’m really excited about this and I feel like I’ve gained a couple of extra yards bowling-wise. Things are looking pretty good and the things that are happening are things that I hoped would happen.”
Paul joined Somerset during the 2016 season, so what was he doing this time last year? “This time last year I was in India in the World Cup. I’d just found a club in Newcastle and had no real idea what was going to happen in the next few years. I was planning to stay in England for a couple of years and play club cricket. I had no idea I would end up somewhere like Somerset!”
Much like the other players in the squad, the flying Dutchman was very much looking forward to the pre-season training camp in Spain, about which he said: “The thing I’m looking forward to most is being able to go off a full run up. I bowled a few no balls in Hong Kong because I was a bit out of rhythm I think. To get outside and get some proper overs in the legs is going to be great. It’s a very exciting time because as soon as we get back we are pretty much in to non stop cricket.”
Paul outlined what his hopes are ahead of the new campaign: “I’m just hoping for a good season with Somerset. I’m not that close to a First Team spot at the moment but hopefully I’ll get a couple of games during the season. It’s a case of working really hard and taking the opportunities with both hands when they come along!”
Paul has made a real impression off the field at the Cooper Associates County Ground by playing a very active role within the Club’s Community Engagement Programme. The fast bowler has visited Selworthy Special School, Musgrove Park Hospital Children’s Ward and even played Santa at a Christmas Club event. “I really enjoy doing those things,” he said. “I grew up watching professional football and there was always one game a year when all the former Dutch national players played against the local club that my dad played for. I always looked up to those former players and seeing them giving back to the community was amazing. I always said that if I ever got anywhere near their position to be able to give something back to kids or to the community as a whole, I would do it. I love to do it so I’ll grab any opportunity to those sort of things.”