Potchefstroom: Reigning champion Australia is rated 2,000-1 odds-on favourites to beat minnows the Netherlands when the teams meet in a World Cup Group 'A' match at North West Stadium on Thursday. But the bookmakers might not have been so confident if they had taken into account the previous result between the two sides - a three-wicket win for the Netherlands on a matting pitch in The Hague in 1964.
Rudi Onstein, the man who hit the winning runs that day, is now The Netherlands' World Cup media liaison officer and is also reporting on the tournament for the country's 'De Telegraaf' newspaper. For Onstein, the memories of that match, against a strong Australian side that had just retained the Ashes in England, is still vivid although he was at pains to play down the win and his own part in it. "I think Australia had had a good night out in the Hague, the night before," joked Onstein an all-rounder who usually opened the bowling, but not in this match.
"And because the game was played on a matting pitch they were not allowed to wear spikes so they had to borrow plimsolls from us. They batted first and made about 190 and we got them in the last over. I hit two sixes off Bob Cowper and when we only needed one to win Graham McKenzie bowled me a nice one to hit that went for four," Onstein, who played for The Netherlands from 1959-1977 explained.
But, as well as the result, the match was also famous for the fact that Australia's Jack Potter got hit on the head while batting. "This was way before the days of helmets and Norman O'Neill told me that, with Australia next due to tour the West Indies, Potter was thinking about wearing a crash helmet against their fast bowlers. "But it never came to that and helmets didn't come into cricket until much later."
Asked about how the Netherlands side of today compares with the 1964 vintage Onstein, a bank manager by profession, replied, "It's impossible to compare teams. But Australia was the best side in the world then and they are the best side in the world right now." Copyright AFP 2001