Jamie Atkinson was the only local player to hold his head high after the Netherlands underlined the massive gulf that exists between leading associate countries and Hong Kong at the ICC World Twenty20 qualifiers in the United Arab Emirates yesterday.
The Hong Kong captain, who has been impressive throughout the tournament, showed he has what it takes to mingle with the big boys, stroking a fine 64 in chase of a target, 202, that had never looked within reach. And so it proved as Hong Kong was restricted to 118 for seven, to lose by 83 runs in the preliminary round.
Head coach Charlie Burke had earlier described Atkinson, 22, as a talent on par with South Africa test captain Graeme Smith - mainly because of his capability to lead a side from the front at a young age - and he once again proved it with another fine performance.
While the pitch at Sharjah might have resembled a burning deck to the rest of the local batsmen - barring a cameo from Courtney Kruger who made 20 - Atkinson stood tall with exemplary innings that included four sixes and six fours.
He more than looked the part, especially when caning Dutch medium-pacers Tom Heggleman and Pieter Seelar for 17 and 15 runs off each of their overs respectively, to put a little bit of pride back into what was otherwise an abject performance.
The Dutch, opting to bat first, were intent on piling as many runs as possible so as to boost their net run-rate as Hong Kong conceded their highest number of runs in the tournament. Opener Stephan Myburgh and Michael Swart gave the perfect start, hammering 97 runs in nine overs before the rest just added to the pain. But Atkinson ensured it was not total humiliation with his resistance.
The loss left Hong Kong with a 2-5 win-loss record and sixth in their pool.