International career over, admits 'mentor' Ryan ten Doeschate
For the rest of the world, Ryan ten Doeschate is the answer to a trivia question - who's the batsman with the highest ODI average. For the Netherlands, Doeschate is their greatest player ever.
Before his vanishing act from international cricket in 2011, and long before his sudden return in 2017, Doeschate glittered in his brief Oranje career but now admits that he has walked away for good.
"My time is certainly up for international cricket, and I had some good times with the Dutch team. I haven't played very much lately. My role now is to chip in wherever, as much as I can for the team".
Ten Doeschate was speaking to the media in a post-match conference for the Balkh Legends in the Afghanistan Premier League, one of the several T20 teams he has played for over the last decade and a half. T20s have served him fairly well, and the 38-year-old continues to globetrot for various franchises.
He was associated with the Kolkata Knight Riders in the IPL for five years, a relationship rarely seen between IPL franchises and Associate players.
"For the experience I have and the conditions I have played in, I am just trying to chip in as a senior player. I am lucky I am in good condition at 38, and probably a bit more experienced than I used to be, when I had a bit more pace and energy".
He has enjoyed a successful career at Essex, for whom he has been playing since 2003. The current captain recently signed a contract extension until the end of 2019.
Born in South Africa, ten Doeschate led Essex to their first County Championship title in 2017 in 25 years.
Yet, he remained one of the most influential Associate players to have played the game, but now admits it's time to pass the baton. He won the Associate Player of the Year award thrice, in 2008, 2010 and 2011.
“Yes, I used to be among the best of the associate players at one time, but now there are so many other good Associate players. It’s good to see these guys getting the recognition, more so through such competitions (like APL),” ten Doeschate said.
Mentioning Scottish players like Calum MacLeod and Kyle Coetzer, ten Doeschate said that several Associate players are making waves and getting recognition and can take heart from Afghanistan's rise, and their claiming of Test status last year.
“The good thing is that there are so many coming through and it would be nice to see more of these perform and play at the highest levels, including the IPL and the PSL. We need to look past the tag and look at what is there in front of them and those guys are good enough".
A street-smart cricketer blessed with expertise in all three departments of the game, ten Doeschate could have progressed significantly owing to the potential he showed, but his international career stayed in the bubble of Netherland cricket's limited growth, and never flourished completely.
He hit two centuries during the 2011 World Cup, joining Sachin Tendulkar and AB de Villiers in the process.
Currently the second highest run-getter in the APL, he feels that the gulf between the Test bigwigs and the so-called weak teams is quickly narrowing, and the recent results are there to show.
"Bangladesh have had some good series in recent times, and the Afghanistan team in the Asia Cup is a good example of the gap closing".
"When it comes to Test cricket, there is obviously a big gap, but that comes with playing. The only way those teams will improve is by playing Test cricket against better teams. And that's how the gap can be bridged".
One wonders how things would have transpired if ten Doeschate had played at the top level for a different country. 'Tendo' will remain one of top-flight cricket's biggest riddles.