Friday, June 14, 2024

Cricket Netherlands: In Memoriam Gerrit van Laer (1942-2024)

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Photo Credit: Cricket Netherlands

With the death of Gerrit van Laer (The Hague, 1942), the cricket community in our country not only loses a gifted sportsman, but also one of its most notable members.

Gerrit van Laer played almost 300 matches for HCC at the highest level. This was at a time when the annual cricket competition had only fourteen matches, during the quarter century from 1958 to 1982. And he played for the Netherlands 23 times in that period, most of them as captain. To understand that figure, we have to realize that the Dutch XI at that time only played once or twice a year. The major ICC tournaments followed later. Many of the international meetings were at the expense of the Flamingos, such as against the Free Foresters and the MCC. Gerrit also made many runs in those matches and became an ‘honorary member’ of this touring company. All in all, Gerrit scored no less than 11,653 runs in 523 matches.

Gerrit van Laer was the most attacking opening bat I can remember, actually a T20 player ‘avant la lettre’. Sometimes a beautiful score, sometimes it ends quickly. On tour with HCC in England we played against a minor county, Lincolnshire if I remember correctly. They were normally much too strong for us, but Gerrit had it on his hips. I could observe that well, because I was left out of the team and therefore had to umpir that day. I believe there were 100 runs on the board within the hour, 95 of which were from Gerrit. What I remember most strongly is the desperate look of the bowlers when Gerrit had hit a few unusual boundaries again. I also went on a great Ducks tour with Gerrit (led by Ton Bakker), and with the Vogels to Corfu to provide some assistance to the Greeks.

Gerrit later went to live and play in Bloemendaal, where he also played many matches. He also became the club chairman, during the time that I was chairman of the KNCB. As a person on the fields, Gerrit was always dominant, very vocal and undoubtedly intimidating to others. It is not without reason that he was the undisputed and also feared captain of HCC 1 for many years. But over time the sharp edges wore away and a very interested and engaging man emerged. Someone with a lot of humor, who could provide appropriate commentary in any situation. I have the best memories of him.

Rest in peace, Gerrit.

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