Two decades after Shahzad Altaf's UAE beat Tim de Leede's Netherlands, their sons slug it out in Thursday's Qualifier, writes Paul Radley from Zimbabwe
UAE face Netherlands as Rameez Shahzad and Bas de Leede dream of playing in World Cup like their fathers
Twenty-two years ago the UAE earned their first, and so far only, win at a cricket World Cup when they beat the Netherlands by seven wickets in Lahore.
The two countries, who have become regular counterparts down the years, meet again in Harare on Thursday as they continue their efforts to try to make it back to cricket’s big show in England next year.
Both sides have players who are trying to echo the feats of their fathers by playing at the World Cup.
Shahzad Altaf’s miserly return of 10 overs, three maidens, one wicket for 15 runs went a long way to helping UAE win that match in 1996. A little more than two decades on, his son Rameez has become one of the mainstays of the national team’s batting line up.
In the opposition dressing room at Harare Sports Club will be Bas de Leede. He is the 18-year-old son of Tim, who made 36 against UAE in 1996, in one of the three World Cups he played in.
Rameez was eight back then, and says his memories of watching his father on TV at the family home in Dubai are sketchy.
“I remember my dad slipping and falling down when he was bowling,” Rameez, 30, said with a laugh.
“I also remember he had 10 overs for 15 runs, which I think was the among most economical figures in the World Cup for a while. I think that was a great achievement by my dad. I’m really proud of him.”
Shahzad Sr’s influence on UAE cricket extended beyond just playing. He became a coach in retirement. Three of the starting XI for the national team against West Indies on Tuesday – Rameez, Ahmed Raza and Chirag Suri – were coached by him in their formative years.
Each showed up well against the leading side in the World Cup Qualifier. Raza took the wicket of Evin Lewis, Suri blunted the new-ball attack with 38, while Rameez scored an unbeaten 112 – the highest score ever by a UAE player against a Test team.
“Even as a kid when dad was playing for the UAE, I used to go with him for training, at the senior sessions,” Rameez said.
“I always wanted to play for UAE and play good cricket. If we can retain our ODI status, go to the Super Six stage, and even get to the World Cup, that would be a great achievement. For me and my dad to play in a World Cup, that would be brilliant.”
Bas de Leede has similar recollections of his own childhood in the game. Born in 1999, he was eight years old when the family travelled to the Caribbean to support father Tim playing for Netherlands at the 2007 World Cup.
“I was there in St Kitts, and can’t remember a lot about that trip, but I do remember being at the ground when the team played,” De Leede Jr said.
“I remember being there and looking up to the guys trying their best against the top teams in the world. One thing I dreamt of as a young cricketers was being there and following in my dad’s footsteps, playing against those big teams.”
The teenage batsman was a late replacement for the injured Stephan Myburgh in the Dutch squad for this tournament, and is unlikely to feature in the starting XI against UAE.
He says he is trying to make his own memories in the game rather than imitate his father’s, per se. He does acknowledge it is unlikely he would have played the game were it not for the family influence.
Cricket World Cup Qualifier 2018: Meet the 10 teams at event
“I grew up on a cricket field, from aged two when I was able to walk,” De Leede said.
“At 7am, we would drive to away games. I’d be one of the only kids there. I’d try to make friends with other kids on the boundary, and just hit balls and throw balls all day.
“Most people [in the Netherlands] are into football. Cricket is a family sport. It is not a sport you choose. In Holland, we don’t do sport in school.
"Everyone chooses one or two sports to play, and it is mostly soccer or field hockey. You don’t really get into cricket unless you know someone who plays it.
“It is not about repeating what my dad did. For me, it is about creating my own memories. My dad playing was a huge influence on me and made me want to be a cricketer, but I just want to be the best cricketer I can be, and get to wherever cricket takes me.”