Bertus de Jong & Rod Lyall 09/05/19
With VRA and VOC postponing their fixture this week until July 20th, we’ve just the four matches coming up on Saturday for the 2nd round of the Topklasse season. Though Dosti and HCC considered playing their fixture on VRA’s second ground, the match has instead been relocated to de Diepput, leaving the capital bereft of top division cricket this weekend.
BdJ:Coming off a nail-biting rain-affected win over last year’s champions VOC, which was eventually decided by a DLS margin of just one run, Dosti-United, in lieu of home advantage, will be hoping to carry some momentum into their game against HCC, who sank to a 6-wicket defeat away at HBS last week thanks in large part to the efforts of centurion Wesley Barresi. New acquisition Adam Wiffen had racked up an unbeaten ton of his own in that match, hitting 135 off 128 on Topklasse debut, a promising start for the 21 year-old who HCC will hope can fill the hole left by Jonathan Vandiar. Though HCC’s seam attack were made to look rather toothless by the rampant Barresi, they nonetheless picked up early wickets against a strong HBS top order, and could well do the same against Dosti’s historically more brittle line-up. Taru Kohli’s will be the wicket they want the most, though skipper Vinoo Tewarie was the man who saw his side home last week, knuckling down with the middle order to strike an unbeaten and eventually match-winning 47 off 71. Dosti will hope that Tewarie’s innings was a sign of things to come, and that the Amsterdammers’ local cohort can step up this season, to compensate for the club’s more conservative overseas acquisition strategy.
RL: With four overseas players in their line-up – Indians Taruwar Kohli, Amitoze Singh and Kuldeep Diwan and South African Anees Davids – Dosti are making full use of the collapse of the KNCB’s restrictions. While that wasn’t the decisive factor last week, it will no doubt stand them in good stead this season. HCC, though, also have four imports: Dutch resident Bharat Itagi, Dutch passport holder Adam Wiffen, Bryce Street and Matt Hay, and with their home-grown contingent looking more and more at home in the Topklasse, they, too, will be a force to be reckoned with. Barresi’s match-winning knock did emphasise the limitations of HCC’s attack, but in other respects the two Den Haag sides were pretty evenly matched until Barresi cut loose, and this may prove to be another hard-fought encounter.
BdJ: Meanwhile HBS Craeyenhout travel to Bermweg to take on Sparta 1888, who sank to a 25-run defeat at the hands of former Hoofdklasse rival VCC last week. Twin ducks from Sparta’s overseas signings Andrew Fletcher and Garnett Tarr did not help their cause at Voorburg, though one suspects the pair will acclimatise to Dutch conditions in time. The rest of the batting order at least have runs under their belt though, Mudassar Bukhari’s battling 47 keeping them in the game into the death last week. The seam attack’s lack of penetration will be more of a worry however, especially against an HBS top order that can quickly put the game beyond reach if early wickets fail to come.
RL: HBS were title contenders for much of last season, and with Sharn Gomes joined by lively seamer Zak Gibson and batsman Zac Elkin they will certainly not be less of a handful this time round. Gomes is a known quantity, and if none of the trio played a decisive part against HCC they all fitted into a side which is a well-balanced unit. Navjit Singh’s composed knock suggests that he is developing into a valuable allrounder, and the seam attack of which he is a quarter will trouble many opposing batsmen. Sparta, on the other hand, struggled to get into the game against a powerful Voorburg unit, and will be hoping that Fletcher and Tarr are able to play significant innings in their initial home match. The Sparta attack was able to make little impression on Voorburg’s top order, but it may be a different proposition at traditionally bowler-friendly Bermweg.
BdJ: Toward the top of the nascent table Voorburg CC will welcome Excelsior ‘20 to Westvliet, both sides looking to go two-from-two. Excelsior looked far from convincing last week on their way to a four wicket win over a Quick Haag side still waiting on their pros, but new signing Brenton Parchment seems to have taken to Dutch conditions like a duck to Dutch conditions. His all-round performance was the difference on Saturday in an otherwise forgettable encounter, though Umar Baker also did himself credit on debut at Thurlede. The question remains whether they will be able to trouble the thoroughly-acclimatised Matt Smit, who showed every sign of carrying over his intimidating form in the Hoofdklasse last season into the top flight. Smit’s 137-ball 110 meant much of the VCC batting remains untested in the Topklasse, though Noah Croes and Steve Nottle also looked unperturbed by the step up in divisions.
RL: Voorburg were indeed impressive on their return to the top flight, and Excelsior face a stiff test on their visit to Westvliet. With Parchment joining Lorenzo Ingram in Schiedam in succession to James Hilditch Excelsior have resisted the temptation to increase their overseas contingent, preferring to rely upon the ‘class of 2016’ who won them back-to-back championships. They may not have been at top pitch in last week’s miserable conditions, but they will certainly let us see whether Voorburg are as strong as they appeared to be in their victory over Sparta. Their reliance on their overseas players and the inconsistency of their top and middle order were issues even in Excelsior’s title-winning seasons, and they will need to resolve them if they are again to be in the mix for this year’s championship.
BdJ: Finally ACC will travel to Nieuw Hanenburg to take on Quick Haag who will start as underdogs in their own yard, looking for their first win and hoping to get it without the aid of the nigh-indispensable Jay Bista and his fellow Mumbaiker Prathamesh Dake. Stand-in overseas Rupert Young and Pieter Groenewald managed only ten runs between them last week, though the rest of the side’s performance was more promising than it appears on a scorecard. New skipper Daan Vierling, especially, showed some fight down the order as he dragged his side into three figures with the help of Doc Mol and Thijs van Schelven, the latter also looking back to his old self with the ball, giving away just 18 from his 8 overs and eventually bagging the wicket of match-winner Parchment, albeit by then too late. ACC will be riding high after their victory in the Amsterdam Derby last week, and the performances of youngsters Arjan Kumar and Shirase Rasool especially are a cause for optimism for the coming season. The Amsterdammers also have the advantage of their two overseas players having arrived in timely fashion, Bardy Barends’ return of 2-29 last week suggesting he knows what he’s about on a mat and Jean Marais still yet to lose his wicket in the unfamiliar conditions.
RL: Indeed, the decisive contributions of Kumar and Rasool last week suggested that ACC’s youth policy may be starting to bear fruit, and with Quick still waiting for Bista and Dake the home side will have to raise their game significantly on their new, artificial turf. The Haantjes don’t lack experience, but the old guard have struggled to hold their own in the top flight over the past year, and they will need to be at their best against the emerging talent of the Amsterdam side. It might be an exaggeration to see this game as an intergenerational battle, especially since ACC looked a more balanced outfit against VRA than they did last season and Quick have a couple of youngsters of their own, but Quick’s old hands such as Geert Maarten Mol, Lesley Stokkers and Jeroen Brand will have a lot resting on their shoulders as they attempt to hold the fort until reinforcements arrive from Mumbai.
Bertus’s predictions: HCC, HBS, Voorburg, ACC.
Rod’s predictions: Dosti, HBS, Voorburg, ACC.