Rain settles Group A, but Group B still up for grabs

Rod Lyall 07/06/22

The bad weather which had mercifully stayed away from the Topklasse this season finally intervened on Monday, all six matches being abandoned as the Pentecost holiday spoke with tongues of rain rather than fire.

The cancellation of the entire programme took with it Sparta 1888’s last slim hope of reaching the top three in Group A, leaving them four points behind HCC with just one match left to play.

HCC’s match against HBS Craeyenhout was one of two abandoned without a ball being bowled after HBS had won the toss and elected to field; at the Hazelaarweg in Rotterdam proceedings didn’t even get that far, persistent rain eliminating any thought of playing the vital game between VRA Amsterdam (notionally the home side) and VOC Rotterdam.

That wash-out, together with the abandonment of Excelsior ‘20’s match against Dosti Amsterdam at Sportpark Drieburg after the Schiedam side had reached 249 for four in 45 overs, left the three-way tussle for two places in the Championship pool hingeing on next Saturday’s final round, when Excelsior will be at home to VOC and VRA will travel to Westvliet to take on group leaders Voorburg.

The winners of the Excelsior-VOC match will be guaranteed one of those two spots, but unless VRA are able to beat Voorburg, who have lost only once so far this season, the remaining place will be determined by net run rate, where VRA currently enjoy an advantage of 0.331 over VOC and a marginally greater one over Excelsior.

As far as the actual cricket goes, Excelsior made a good start against Dosti, Tim Etman (53) and Roel Verhagen (63) putting on 106 for the first wicket, and then Lorenzo Ingram contributed an unbeaten 51, his first fifty of the season, sharing an unbroken stand of 68 with Joost Kroesen before the heavens opened.

It was a similar story at Westvliet, where Musa Ahmad (54) and Janneman Malan shared an opening stand of 125 for Voorburg against Salland, Malan going on to post his maiden Topklasse century and remaining on 113 not out when the players were driven from the field with Voorburg on 219 for two in 42.3 overs.

A curious feature of this game was that Salland fielded 69-year-old former Dutch captain Steven Lubbers alongside 14-year-old debutant Fasih Ullah, surely the greatest age difference within a top-flight side since the beginnings of the Dutch competition in 1891.

Back in Group A, Punjab Rotterdam and Sparta 1888 may have set another kind of record, the players being driven from the field three times in the space of four overs before more persistent rain brought their efforts to an end.

Punjab had managed to get off to another of their quick-fire starts in that time, Steph Myburgh hitting three fours and two sixes in a 14-ball knock of 26 not out, out of a total of 37 without loss.

The most absorbing, and ultimately frustrating, tussle of the day was in the vital bottom-three match between Kampong Utrecht and ACC at Maarschalkerweerd, where the Utrecht side had succeeded in pegging back a brisk start by their visitors and had reduced them to 110 for five in 30 overs before the match was abandoned.

Opener Thomas Hobson was still there on 51 not out, however, and although the Kampong attack appeared to have gained the upper hand the game, of vital importance to both sides in the relegation battles to come, was delicately poised when the elements took control.

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