Paul looks back on a busy few months

Paul van Meekeren has had a busy few months.

The 25-year-old was involved in winter training at the Cooper Associates County Ground before taking part in a T20 tournament and then joining up with the Netherlands for a number of ICC World Cup qualification matches.

“It’s been hectic,” he said after returning to Taunton earlier this week. “I had a month here doing gym work and cricket based stuff and then it was off to Hong Kong for the T20 Blitz. After that I headed for South Africa and Zimbabwe with the national team.”

Paul represented the Kowloon Cantons in the T20 Blitz and put in a number of impressive performances. It was a competition that he enjoyed as he explained. “It’s a short tournament but it was great fun and a real experience,” he said. “I felt a bit rusty at the start but then grew in to it nicely and had a nice game at the end. There was a really good vibe around the whole tournament and there were a lot of big name players involved. It was also really good to meet some new people and speak to some players who play a lot of T20 cricket. I was playing with Wahab Riaz, who is obviously a very good bowler, and I had a few really good conversations with him and I learned a lot.”

After the HK T20 Blitz, Paul joined up with the Netherlands ahead of the ICC World Cup qualifiers in Zimbabwe. “As soon as I arrived with the Dutch team I felt like I was bowling really well,” he said. “As a bowling group I think we did well throughout the whole trip but we just struggled a bit with bowling at the death. In the end the results weren’t quite what we were looking for but we all had a lot of new experiences and we all learned a lot.”

Defeats against Ireland and the UAE were followed by a victory over Papua New Guinea. There was then a defeat to the West Indies in the final group game. A play off victory over Hong Kong was then followed by victory against Nepal in the 7th place play off.

“We went in to the competition with a lot of confidence,” said Paul when we asked him about the tournament. “The batters were all scoring runs and were in a good frame of mind. The warm up games against Hong Kong and Afghanistan went well but the middle order didn’t really get a chance to bat and I think their lack of time at the wicket ended up costing us a bit.

“We were outplayed by Ireland and then a few run-outs cost us again the UAE. We then had to upset the West Indies but a ruthless 20 minutes of cricket from them saw them come out on top. In the end we were a bit disappointed about how it went but as a group we have learned a huge amount.”

During the match against the West Indies Paul claimed the prize scalp of Chris Gayle about which he said: “At the time I said to the group that it was a silly shot to take me on from back of a length, but looking at the replay it was a bit fuller than I thought! I felt that I bowled well in that game and hopefully I can bring that form to Somerset.”

Paul was back at a wintery Cooper Associates County Ground on Monday. “It’s a bit cooler than I’ve been used to recently,” he said. “I like snow though! I wish I’d been here a few weeks ago when it snowed really hard. Hopefully it will warm up a bit now so that we can get some decent cricket weather and get out on the pitch.”

What are the likable Dutchman’s plans for the next few weeks? “I’ve been given a few days off and then I’ll start bowling again next week,” he said. “I feel lucky to have been able to have played a few games recently and it’s been good to get some game time in white-ball cricket. Hopefully I can get a few red-ball warm-up games under my belt and obviously the goal is to be selected for that first game.

“I’m really looking forward to the start of the season. The team looks in great shape and it’s really good to see Leachy and Craig involved with England. It’s a good sign for the Club that we are getting people in their national teams. Bessie has also been doing well for the Lions and in the North v South series, so we have a few guys who will be high on confidence. There are a lot of young guys coming back from doing well in Australia and having been involved in the Under 19 World Cup, so things are looking good here.”

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