Rod Lyall 25/04/2021
ACC are still recovering from the loss of their quartet of Zulfiqars and young batter Shirase Rasool, and in the light of that they did surprisingly well last season. 2021 is the club’s centenary year, and that gives them all the more reason to push themselves to the limit. With no relegation at stake ACC has elected to again rely on its remarkably youthful and largely home-produced squad, with five teenagers Aryan Kumar and Ammar Zaidi (both 19), Shreyas Potdar and Jamieson Mulready (18) and Mees van Vliet (17) all making good progress. Spinner Devanshu Arya often opens the bowling, and the inexperience of the side is also balanced by openers Cameron Burnett and Charles McInerney and middle-order batter Chris Knoll, while Anis Raza remains a key figure with both bat and ball. With other clubs bringing in overseas reinforcements, though, ACC may find this another testing season.
Strengthened by the advent of South Africans Ryan Klein and Tayo Walbrugh (the former in possession of a Dutch passport), HBS Craeyenhout will be looking to improve considerably on last season’s seventh place. The mercurial batting of Tobias Visée is always a menacing factor at the top of the order, and if the rest of the line-up – minus the huge contributions of now-retired Wesley Barresi – hasn’t always realised its potential, players like Navjit Singh, Wessel Coster and Adil Ahmad may find the going easier in the presence of Klein and Walbrugh. Julian de Mey, now in the national side as a spinner, made decent progress with the bat last season, while with Ferdi Vink as valuable as ever in a seam attack which also features Singh, Coster and potentially Farshad Khan, the Crows have as threatening a pace unit as any. They gave the impression last year of having two-thirds of a really good side; with the addition of the two South Africans they may turn out to be a good deal better than that this time.
After their unaccustomed finish in the lower reaches last year Excelsior ’20 Schiedam seem well placed to go chasing after another championship. Outstanding South African prospect (and another Dutch passport holder) Tristan Stubbs joins veteran Lorenzo Ingram in what looks like a pretty strong batting line-up, especially with the return of opener Tim Etman from Australia. With three Van Troosts (seamer Rens and his teenage brothers Stan and Jelte), three Kroesens (middle-order batter Joost, seamer Gijs and opening bat Luuk) and a brace of Etmans (seamer Niels was a regular part of the attack in brother Tim’s absence), Tom Heggelman’s side could well be something of a family affair. Seamer Sohail Bhatti has moved to Punjab, but the Schiedammers have picked up Klaas Roelfsema from Rood en Wit, and he will be vying for a place in the pace attack. Add in keeper-opener Roel Verhagen and middle-order bat Sanjit Shankar, and Excelsior have a squad capable of giving any opponent nightmares.
VOC Rotterdam really felt the absence of internationals Max O’Dowd and Scott Edwards last season, and with Pieter Seelaar also out through injury they battled to produce convincing performances with both bat and ball. The return of Tim de Kok from Sparta and the arrival of Arnav Jain made some difference, and with a more solid base the club will be looking to the further development of youngsters like Tizo Moorman and Siebe van Wingerden. The attack improved greatly when Bobby Hanif and former international Ashan Malik returned mid-season, while experienced hands like Dirk van Baren and Jelte Schoonheim (the side’s leading wicket-taker last year) may perform more consistently with less weight upon their shoulders. O’Dowd, Edwards and Seelaar all have the capacity to turn the Rotterdammers from a decent side into title challengers, but they will need plenty of support from the rest of the squad.
With their complement of overseas players reduced to just one Dosti Amsterdam had a miserable, winless campaign in 2020, relieved only by the fact that nothing was at stake. The return of Anees Davids, at least for part of the season, will bolster Dosti’s hopes somewhat this time round, while his countryman Touseef Ahmed whose 6-29 against HCC was the best individual showing with the ball last season, will also be back. Nonetheless it seems likely that there will in any case be plenty of opportunities for skipper Vinoo Tewarie, keeper-batsman Rahil Ahmed and off-spinner Mahesh Hans to demonstrate their skills. Seamer Wahid Masood has contributed some valuable spells over recent seasons and was Dosti’s leading wicket-taker last year, while Sukumar Raji chipped in with the bat when everyone else failed. Occasional individual performances won them no points last season though, and without a more consistent team effort the Amsterdammers may again find wins elusive.