Dutch-SA connection Michael Levitt, Sybrand Engelbrecht fired up for Proteas showdown

Former Cape Cobras all-rounder Sybrand Engelbrecht will hope for a repeat of The Netherlands’ 50-over World Cup win over the Proteas in today’s T20 clash. Photo: AFP

Former Cape Cobras all-rounder Sybrand Engelbrecht will hope for a repeat of The Netherlands’ 50-over World Cup win over the Proteas in today’s T20 clash. Photo: AFP

Published Jun 8, 2024


South Africa has long been a fertile ground for the exporting of produce to The Netherlands.

In recent years, though, this has taken the shape of cricketers, with the likes of Ryan ten Doeschate, Roelof van der Merwe, Stephan Myburgh and Colin Ackermann all playing prominent roles in the development of Dutch cricket in the last decade.

The trend has continued, with former Cape Cobras and SA Under-19 all-rounder Sybrand Engelbrecht joining the team for last year’s 50-over World Cup in India, before former South African College Schools (SACS) prodigy Michael Levitt was called up for the T20 World Cup currently being held in the United States and the Caribbean.

To add further spice to the pot, both are expected to line-up against the Proteas in a crunch Group D clash at the Nassau County Ground in New York today (4.30pm SA time start).

It has been a particularly whirlwind journey for 20-year-old Levitt, who only a couple of years ago was still playing in the Cricket SA Cubs Week in Stellenbosch.

“Every schoolboy has the dream of playing cricket at the highest level at a World Cup. In my wildest dreams did I think it would happen so quickly… probably not!” Levitt exclusively told Independent Media yesterday.

“A lot of credit must go to the coaches who have helped me to adapt after school and get ready for what international cricket has to offer.

“From there, it’s been trial and error, I guess, to get used to it. It’s still early in my career, and I can only take the learnings from each tournament.”

Levitt will certainly be in for a baptism of fire when he walks out to open the batting today, with the Proteas fast-bowling arsenal consisting of the lanky Marco Jansen, Kagiso Rabada, speed merchant Anrich Nortjé and Ottniel Baartman ready to be unleashed on the tricky Nassau Ground surface.

The youngster is under no illusion what awaits him, but is excited by the challenge.

— Cricket🏏Netherlands (@KNCBcricket) June 7, 2024

“These guys are among the greats of the game and really do have the X-factor,” he said.

“But with all due respect, it is just going to be another game, and as special as any other World Cup game we are going to play.

“I just feel like we are still facing a white ball that may be coming a little bit quicker than normal, but we are just as ready as any other game.”

Engelbrecht, meanwhile, knows all about facing the Proteas, having been part of the Dutch side that completed an “ICC double” on his South African countrymen last year in Dharamsala.

The 50-over World Cup win, of course, followed up the sensational victory in the T20 edition in Adelaide the previous year.

The Dutch certainly have nothing to fear when they face the Proteas, and will be eager for a three-peat.

“We played a really good game of cricket (last year), and coming up against one of the best teams in the world, you always want to test yourself,” Engelbrecht said.

“We believe that if we play our brand of cricket, we can compete with the best teams in the world.

“We have a lot of respect for the high quality unit South Africa is, but at the same time, we have trust in our own abilities and knowing if we play a good, attacking brand of cricket, we can hold our own.”