It was a strange coincidence that Lancashire's Former Players Association arranged their reunion for the day of the CB40 match against the Netherlands.
If you'd asked some of the good old boys gathered at The Point to name a Dutch sporting celebrity, Johan Cruyff would perhaps have been the first to cross their minds; others would have mentioned Fanny Blankers-Koen - and one or two may even have remembered training with her before the last London Olympics.
Cricket, though, has moved on and is rapidly becoming a world game. Afghanistan are a useful side and I've even heard it suggested this summer that Ireland should play Test cricket. One of the most refreshing features of the early part of the season was the form of the Netherlands in the CB40, so even some partisan Lancastrians will have been just a little disappointed that their side's nine-wicket victory over Peter Borren's men was quite so facile; others will have doused any trifling regret in the gush of victory.
Opting to bowl first only because of the weather which had delayed the start and reduced the game to a 27-over affair, Glen Chapple saw his attack dismiss the Dutch for just 68 in 20.5 overs and then knock off the runs with nine wickets and 63 balls to spare. It was, I am afraid, a bit of a no-blubbing, six of the best, trousers-down thrashing. It was also, some might observe, a little bit of revenge for the Netherlands' one-wicket defeat of Lancashire in the CB40 at Schiedam earlier in the season.
Although the visitors were much weakened by injury and unavailability - two players were unable to get visas - Lancashire's performance in the field was impressive in its ruthlessness and desire. Spinners Gary Keedy and Stephen Parry did most of the damage, Keedy taking three for 15 and Parry three for 13. Seamer Ajmal Shazad finished with two for 7 from four overs.
Lancashire's fielding and catching was excellent thoughout: Steven Croft took two fine catches; Ashwell Prince snared Mudassar Bukhari at slip; and Paul Horton ran out Werner Coetsee for one. The destruction of the Dutch innings was a pretty brutal affair. After 5.2 overs the Netherlands were 22 for no wicket; they then lost their all ten wickets for 46 runs in 93 balls. Their total of 68 equalled the lowest ever score by a visiting team to Old Trafford in one-day cricket.
Ex-Western Australia batsman Michael Swart was the first batsman to be dismissed when he edged Shahzad to Horton at slip. Eric Szwarczynski also fell to Shazad when he was athletically caught in the gully by Croft for two and the loss of early wickets in relatively conventional fashion seemed to cause panic in the ranks.
Skipper Borren clipped Oliver Newby hard and straight to Prince at midwicket without scoring and opener Wesley Barresi skied a slog off Keedy to mid-off where Croft took his second catch of the innings, running back from short cover. Barresi topscored with 20 and was one of only two Dutch batsmen to reach double figures.
The farcical nature of the innings continued when Daan van Bunge came down the wicket to Keedy but could only deflect the ball on to his stumps and Coetsee's run out followed two balls later. That left the visitors on 50 for six and the Netherlands' tail end batsmen were unable to mount a rescue act. All of them found the accuracy and turn of spinners Keedy and Parry too testing a proposition on a slow Old Trafford wicket.
Tom de Grooth and Peter Seelar were both bowled by Parry attempting attacking shots at a time when it might have been useful to bat out the overs. The dangerous Mudassar Bukhari was taken by Prince at slip off Keedy and the experienced slow left-armer claimed the last wicket when Tim Gruijters was stumped by Gareth Cross.
Only the gloomy weather threatened Lancashire's pursuit of 69 to win the game. Opener Stephen Moore continued his good form in one-day cricket this season by making 50 not out off 54 balls and Croft was 14 not out when the winning single was taken. Prince was the only batsman to be dismissed, losing his wicket when he was run out for four by Borren from slip.
It was therefore no surprise that Chapple was a contented man on Sunday evening when he reflected on his side's performance. "It was a great win for us," he said. "The Netherlands have been a dangerous team in this competition and it's nice to win a game convincingly. We got out of the blocks early and we were competitive throughout. We've come away with an easy win in the end.
"There's always a chance of a comfortable victory if you bowl first, because a side has to set a score. We only bowled first because there was rain around but it worked for us today. We played on the Test match pitch because we wanted to use the best wicket we had and it felt like a good strip to me when I was bowling on it."
The win at Old Trafford means that Lancashire need only to beat Gloucestershire at Bristol next Sunday to book a place in the semi-finals of the CB40 and keep alive their hopes of winning a trophy this season.
Article (c) Lancashire CCC
Photo: Flying Dutchman! But Werner Coetsee can't make his ground and is run out by Paul Horton's fine throw
(c) Simon Pendrigh