The sun shines on a new-look Topklasse

Rod Lyall 24/04/22

What is perhaps the earliest opening day in the history of the Dutch competition was greeted with splendid Spring weather on Saturday, bright sunshine tempered by a chilly breeze, and although there may have been some creaking joints and aching muscles, there were also some outstanding performances.

The tightest match of the day was at Het Loopveld, where fortunes fluctuated all day before HBS Craeyenhout won the Group A encounter with ACC by 46 runs.

Put in to bat, HBS were given a great start by Tobias Visée, who cracked a 21-ball 42 in typically Dartagnan-like fashion, dominating an opening stand of 60 at almost ten an over before he was dismissed by Robert Ackermann.

Tayo Walbrugh continued at the other end, but some fine bowling from Thomas Hobson and Joseph Reddy brought ACC back into the game, and with five wickets falling for 23 runs HBS were in trouble at 106 for six; Hobson finished with three for 23 and Reddy two for 20.

This brought Ryan Klein in to join Walbrugh, however, and they proceeded to turn the innings around with a stand of 113, Walbrugh reaching his century before, with three overs remaining, he fell to Mees van Vliet.

Klein continued to attack, bringing his own score to 76 before he became Van Vliet’s third victim of 23 runs, and HBS closed on 247 for nine.

ACC’s hopes of overhauling this target were largely dependent on South African overseas player Robin Smith, who shared a third-wicket stand of 59 with Hobson (48) and who thereafter played a fairly lone hand with some support from Navin Saran and Ammar Zaidi.

Once the latter had gone and his side were reduced to 183 for seven Smith began to hit out in earnest, but after smacking Stephan Vink for a huge six he tried to repeat the shot and was caught by Walbrugh, lurking in the deep, departing for a fine 92.

Vink finished with three for 23 as ACC were all out for 201, Kyle Klein and Ferdi Vink picking up two apiece.

Walbrugh was beaten in the century stakes, however, by HCC opener Tonny Staal, who made 121 as his side ran up 263 for three against Sparta 1888 at Sportpark Bermweg.

He and Clayton Floyd put on 70 for the first wicket, and then Staal and Zac Worden added 122 for the second, Worden ending the innings on 79 not out.

Sandeep Sardha hit a defiant 46 at almost a run a ball when Sparta replied, but the HCC attack was too strong for the Capelle club’s batting, only Nasratullah Ibrahimkhil holding out with an unbeaten 40 as they were dismissed for 168; Henrico Venter was the most successful of the HCC’s bowlers with three for 15 from five overs, with Clayton Floyd, Tim Pringle and Olivier Klaus each picking up two wickets.

In the remaining Group A match first-time champions Punjab Rotterdam began their defence of their title with a comfortable win over promoted side Kampong Utrecht, Mubashar Hussain taking four for 38 and Saqib Zulfiqar three for 42 as Kampong were all out for 172, to which skipper Usman Malik contributed 58.

The Kampong bowling was then unfortunate enough to run into Stephan Myburgh in full cry, who despatched them to all parts with a superb, 88-ball knock of 108 not out, including 11 fours and six sixes, as Punjab cruised to victory in 28.4 overs.

It was Myburgh’s 15th top-flight hundred, the most by anyone this century.

The promoted side in Group B, Salland Deventer, were similarly overpowered by VRA Amsterdam in the Amsterdamse Bos.

Batting first, VRA posted 249 for four, thanks in large measure to an unbroken fifth-wicket stand of 135 between Jack Balbirnie (57 not out) and skipper Peter Borren (75 not out from 66 deliveries), the latter passing fifty for the 67th time in his 301 matches for the club.

Salland had no answer to this, and although opener Pasan Ottachchige made a patient 42 before he was seventh out, Aryan Dutt marked his arrival in the Bos with figures of five for 11, and the Deventer side were all out for a disappointing 110.

Many observers’ pre-season title favourites Voorburg achieved a six-wicket victory over Excelsior ’20 Schiedam at Thurlede, but it took them almost the full complement of overs to do it.

With both sides still awaiting overseas reinforcements the early exchanges were dominated by Voorburg’s Delano Potgieter, who took three for 16 in 8.1 overs, and by Excelsior’s long-serving Lorenzo Ingram, who top-scored with 41 out of the Schiedammers’ total of 164.

Voorburg were soon in trouble at 19 for three when they replied, but Bas de Leede and Tom de Grooth steadied the ship with a fourth-wicket partnership of 95, and after Rens van Troost removed De Grooth for a steady 38 Karl Nieuwoudt provided a much-needed acceleration which saw the visitors home with two overs to spare.

Nieuwoudt’s 33 not out came from 25 deliveries, while De Leede finished on 73, made from 122 balls with just four boundaries.

On Sunday, VOC Rotterdam completed a comfortable win over Dosti Amsterdam at Sportpark Drieburg, chasing down the home side’s 187 all out to win by seven wickets with almost 15 overs to spare.

The highlight was international wicketkeeper Scott Edwards’s innings of 112 not out, made from 118 deliveries and including 14 fours and two sixes which ensured the Rotterdammers’ success after they had started shakily and found themselves on 30 for two.

Edwards was given excellent support by Arnav Jain, who made 36 out of a stand of 157 for the third wicket before, with the scores level, he holed out to Kuldeep Diwan, giving a third wicket to Wahid Masood, who finished with three for 24.

Earlier, opener Masood had given Dosti an excellent start with a knock of 64 before he was stumped by Edwards off Jelte Schoonheim, but thereafter only Mahesh Hans, with 33, was able to put up much resistance.

On his first outing for VOC Max Hoornweg claimed three for 33, while Jain and Schoonheim had two for 29 and two for 20 respectively.

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