Six World Cups, 202 international caps and a total of 167 goals easily classifies Ties Kruize as a legend. Standing tall in hall of fame, the humble Dutchman says he loves how hockey has evolved since when he played - as far back as the 70’s.
Manager of one of the most prolific sides in this tournament, Kruize feels that the Dutch have come a long way in the past two decades. ]
“India was the most powerful side when we used to play. I lost more games to India than I won. The balance now has shifted completely in our favour,” he said.
The man who played with a 28 oz stick credits an India-specific strategy as a key element in Holland’s success. “We made major changes in our tactics during the late 60’s and early 70’s. We changed our 2-3-5 formation to a 1-3-3-3 that helped us get initial success against opponents, specifically India. I feel both India and Pakistan have been more willing to stick with the traditional styles and has therefore lost out.”
Suggest that the introduction of astroturf is the bane of subcontinent teams and Kruize laughs “The astroturf has made the game much more exciting. Change happens. India’s decline in rankings is not a result of astroturf. They can still be a champion side if only they adapt.”
Kruize says he was looking forward to coming to India but the crowd response has left him disappointed. “I love this country but in all our games, we have had about 400 spectators of whom a 100 were Dutch. But I don’t blame the locals. In Holland, we have a simple logic - give the crowds a good result and they will love the game,” he says, adding that there are 225,000 registered hockey players in Holland - a country that has 350 clubs and 900 astroturfs. India, however, is not a lost case, said Kruise. “They (Indian players) appear under pressure to perform.
“Indian hockey should help boost their confidence rather than add to their anxiety. The coach (Brasa) is good. He should be given time to consolidate a good side.”