Excelsior’s new South African (and Dutch passport-holding) recruit Tristan Stubbs announced his arrival on Saturday with a mature knock of 79 not out to guide his side to a six-wicket victory over Voorburg at Thurlede.
Coming to the wicket with Excelsior perilously placed at 39 for two (effectively for three because Tom Heggelman had been forced to retire with a hamstring injury), Stubbs soon lost initial partner Joost Kroesen, but then shared in a stand of 75 with Sanjit Shankar (28) which turned the game the Schiedam side’s way.
Unfazed by an attack which included five Dutch international bowlers, he scored at better than a run a ball for much of his innings, and was well supported by Niels Etman once Shankar had gone with 55 still required.
Etman’s solid 19 not out was a vital contribution, but it was Stubbs who ultimately decided the issue, twice hitting Philippe Boisevain for six and then, with the scores level, smacking another off Logan van Beek; in all, he faced 75 deliveries and hit five fours and four sixes.
Excelsior’s target was a relatively modest one, as Voorburg had found the Thurlede going tough after being put in to bat and could only manage 172 for six off their 50 overs.
Against a steady attack they struggled to get the scoring rate up towards three an over, and it was only in the closing stages, as Tom de Grooth and Boissevain added 52 for the seventh wicket, that they looked like setting a challenging total.
Sybrand Engelbrecht top-scored for Voorburg with 31 before he was bowled by Umar Baker, the most successful of Excelsior’s bowlers with three for 29.
On a day of generally one-sided encounters last year’ title-winners-that-weren’t, HCC, made their intentions clear by overpowering a youthful ACC at Het Loopveld.
Skipper Tonny Staal and fellow-opener Musa Nadeem Ahmad raced to 45 off the first five overs, and they had reached 74 in the twelfth before Mies van Vliet removed Ahmad for 25.
This brought little relief for the ACC attack as Staal continued in tandem with Boris Gorlee, making a 63-ball 69 before edging a Chris Knoll delivery to keeper Stephan Hannema.
Gorlee went on to make 60, Hidde Overdijk (33) in another half-century stand, and although ACC fought hard to contain the visitors in the closing stages a total of 254 for six always seemed likely to be beyond the Amsterdammers.
The task became impossible when they quickly found themselves on 8 for three, and despite a dogged captain’s innings from Anis Raza, last man out for 36, they could do no better than 77, Clayton Floyd picking up the first five-wicket haul of the season with five for 18.
At Craeyenhout, HBS made even shorter work of Sparta 1888 after new skipper Ferdi Vink won the toss and inserted the visiting side.
He further seized the initiative by removing Craig Ambrose with the first ball of the second over, and thereafter HBS never took their foot off the pedal, dismissing Sparta for 102 and then knocking off the runs for the loss of just one wicket in 19.4 overs.
Another South African with a Dutch passport, pace man Ryan Klein, took three for 17, his victims including the dangerous Ali Raza and Mudassar Bukhari, and there were two wickets apiece for Vink, Sander Geenevasen and Julian de Mey.
It seemed at one stage that Sparta’s total might have been a good deal lower, but rearguard action from Manminder Singh, Joost-Martijn Snoep and Usman Saleem at least got them past the hundred mark.
Tobias Visée started in his most destructive mode, making 29 from 18 deliveries with three fours and two sixes before falling to Bukhari, but Reece Mason (41 not out) and Navjit Singh (26 not out) saw their side home without further alarums.
A damp pitch caused a delayed start at Hazelaarweg, and with no hour’s grace under the KNCB’s COVID regulations, the match between VOC Rotterdam and VRA Amsterdam was cut to 47 overs.
Young Ashir Abid gave his side a perfect start by bowling Max O’Dowd before he had scored, but Scott Edwards and Tim de Kok then set about the attack, racing to 73 for one by the end of the 13th over.
When De Kok had made 38 he went after left-arm spinner Luke Hartsink and was caught by Ben Cooper at mid-on, and when Edwards followed in the next over, caught behind for 43 by Mitch Lees off Peter Borren’s bowling, VOC were forced to rebuild.
Pieter Seelaar and Dirk van Baren steadied things for a time, but it was left to Arnav Jain to marshal the lower order, and his 33, supported by Corey Rutgers and Jelte Schoonheim, enabled the Rotterdammers to reach a fairly testing 192 for nine.
Helped by some wayward bowling from Pierce Fletcher and Bobby Hanif, Vikram Singh and Zamaan Khan gave VRA a promising start, but once Singh had fallen to Hanif with the total on 39 an experimental and pretty inexperienced batting line-up struggled against Hanif’s seam and Jain’s spin.
When Singh, Cooper and Borren manage 18 between them VRA generally fall short, and as the score slid to 67 for seven it seemed that VOC were on their way to a thumping victory.
Hanif had picked up four for 31 and Jain, bowling unchanged, took three for 31 from his ten-over spell, but by this time Lees and Leon Turmaine had set about lending some respectability to the VRA reply; they added 53 for the eighth wicket before Seelaar, belatedly bringing himself into the attack, removed Lees for 27.
Turmaine stayed to the end, top-scoring with an unbeaten 29, but the introduction of O’Dowd into the attack to claim the last two wickets with successive deliveries, saw VRA dismissed for 142 and VOC claim a 50-run victory.
The KNCB’s testing regime proved its worth during the week, when a positive test among Dosti’s squad led to the players going into quarantine and Sunday’s scheduled match against Punjab Rotterdam being postponed until 9 May.
And so, once again, it falls to us to take up our self-appointed task of selectors of TKcricket’s Topklasse Team of the Season.
RL: Unlike most clubs we’re confining ourselves to two overseas players, but making that choice has become more difficult, not only because there are more to choose from, but also because the definition has become somewhat blurred. Several names do, however, leap out at us: leading run-scorer Sharn Gomes of HBS, who made 832 runs at 52.00 and HCC’s Bryce Street, who tops the averages with 722 at 65.64, both have strong claims among the batsmen, as do Nic Smit, who entered late but often held Voorburg’s staggering batting together, and Gomes’s team-mate Zac Elkin was an effective opener for HBS. Among the bowlers two stand out: Dosti’s Kuldeep Diwan with 36 wickets at 10.36 and Brady Barends of ACC, an outstanding spearhead throughout the season and not far behind with 33 wickets at 13.58. Which pair we opt for in the end might depend on the balance of the side, but I’d provisionally go for Street, a genuine allrounder, and Barends.
BdJ: The somewhat stringent restriction we’re placing on selection here inevitably means some deserving players will miss out, but Street is first name on the sheet for my money. Besides topping the batting averages he was also HCC’s lead wicket-taker with 25 scalps at 22 and also topped the outfield catch count with 16 grabs. I think the case of Gomes might be referred to our event technical committee given his length of residence in the Netherlands, but three names from last year’s team might give us pause, with Taruwar Kohli, Jay Bista and Lorenzo Ingram also having excellent seasons again. Bista’s absence for the first few matches arguably cost Quick in the end, his 625 runs coming at a strike rate of well over 100 and his off-spin also contributing 17 wickets, likewise Kohli’s early departure told against Dosti. Ingram meanwhile had the second best average of any bowler after Diwan whilst also racking up almost 500 runs. With Street already filling the seam all-rounder’s role I’d be tempted to go with Diwan over Barends for the second slot, though that would certainly make Barends the unluckiest player to miss out. An honourable mention too for his ACC team-mate Jean Marais, who had an excellent season with the gloves, effecting 21 dismissals in his 13 matches and conceding just 6 byes, while also doing a job with the bat after being promoted to open. Had he stayed on a full season he might well have forced his way into the side.
BdJ: If Elkin and Bista miss out for want of a Dutch passport then we’ve arguably benched the league’s two most successful openers already, but there a handful of candidates for whom a strong case could be made. HCC’s Adam Wiffen was leading the run scoring tables for a decent chunk of the season before being eclipsed by his team-mate, and doing so against the new ball. With 525 runs at an average a shade over 40 and a top-score of 135*, even a comparatively quiet later half of the season is probably not enough to rule him out. VOC’s Max O’Dowd is another strong contender, though his best performances this season have come in Orange or away at the European Championships, with 575 runs at 38 he’s the only full-time opener other than Elkin and Bista to break into the top ten scorers of the season. Just one spot behind him is VRA’s young Vikram Singh, who broke 500 runs for the first (but surely not last) time this year.
RL: There aren’t too many locally-produced openers who had a really consistent season, and Singh – who has both youth and left-handedness on his side – is undoubtedly one who made real progress. He therefore makes my list, alongside Wiffen or O’Dowd or, if we feel inclined to gamble on his hit-or-miss approach, Tobias Visée of HBS. He only made 417 runs at 27.80, but with a strike rate in excess of 140 – the best in the competition by a distance – he takes a lot of the pressure off his partner and the later batsmen. For T20 it’s a no-brainer; for the longer format the call is tighter, and the safer choice would be either Wiffen or O’Dowd.
RL: For the three or four top- and middle-order batsmen there is perhaps a wider range of options, although many of them are scarcely unfamiliar names. Wesley Barresi didn’t have a stellar season, but he still made 597 runs at 49.75, and his century against HCC in the opening game was simply a joy to watch. He had the advantage of batting in a very strong top six, but others demand consideration because they held their side together week after week: VRA’s Peter Borren, for example, whose 721 runs at 48.07 included a century and six fifties in 16 innings, or Mudassar Bukhari (Sparta 1888), with 589 at 36.81. Another in this category is Quick’s Geert Maarten Mol, whose contribution was ultimately unavailing but nevertheless a model of true grit. These four are in the veteran category, and it’s a little disturbing that of the younger brigade several made less impact than might have been hoped, or flourished briefly and then fell away. My foursome would therefore be: Barresi, Borren, Mol, Bukhari.
BdJ: Another fine season for Borren with the bat, though you’d say he’d already nailed down a place in the side on the strength of his captaincy, turning VRA’s season around after taking back the armband with the Amsterdammers looking Hoofdklasse-bound. When it comes to purely batting performances, however, I’m not sure any of the above can reasonably lay claim to a place ahead of Ben Cooper, who’s 629 runs came at exactly a run-a-ball and put him 5th on the overall scoring table. Cooper could also fill the number three role, where the other contenders have all preferred to bat down the order this season. Bukhari has been coming in at five or six for Sparta, though as he’d likely be making the team on the strength of his bowling anyway I’d be tempted to drop him down the order to make room for another specialist bat, ideally Gomes at four if we deem him eligible.
BdJ: The wicketkeeper’s slot is also a little trickier than it was last time round, if Toby Visée’s preferred opening role is already taken it’s tough to make a case for him on keeping stats alone, while his nearest rival last year, VOC’s Scott Edwards, only kept in six games all season. Conversely Sparta’s Atse Buurman is a long way in front on total dismissals, 13 ahead of his nearest rival on 34 across 17 matches, though of course that has a fair bit to do with where and with whom he was playing. With ACC’s Jean Marais ruled out on nationality grounds, I’d be tempted to go with VCC’s Noah Croes, fourth on the dismissals count and the only full-time gloveman to break 500 runs for the season.
RL: I hadn’t completely ruled out picking Visée as an opener, but unless we went that route I’d agree with my distinguished colleague that it’s hard to include him for his keeping alone. Buurman’s an interesting case: 20 of his 34 victims came in nine games at the Bermweg, and while more than half his catches came off the bowling of Mudassar Bukhari and Joost Martijn Snoep, he accepted chances from all Sparta’s other bowlers as well. Purely on keeping I think you’d have to go for him, but he had a disappointing season with the bat, and if that’s a consideration then Croes might well get the nod.
RL: It wasn’t a vintage season for spin bowlers, and the most effective of them was ACC’s Saqib Zulfiqar, who took 30 wickets at 17.77, well ahead of any of his Dutch-based rivals. If we don’t pick Kuldeep Diwan as one of our overseas players then leg-spinner Zulfiqar is the obvious choice, ahead of other possible contenders like Umar Baker, who made the most of limited opportunities at Excelsior, Philippe Boissevain (Voorburg), Leon Turmaine (VRA), and national captain Pieter Seelaar (VOC).
BdJ: Yes the slow bowlers have played something of a supporting role all season, and the lack of competition only strengthens the case for picking the season’s lead wicket taker in Diwan. Saqib Zulfiqar’s 30 wickets make him the strongest candidate for a second spinner, though his ACC team-mate Devanshu Arya also had a fine season, picking up 24 wickets at a shade under 17. Lorenzo Ingram has also been particularly parsimonious for Excelsior, going at barely over 2.5 per over and his 26 wickets coming at an average of 12.69.
BdJ: With Bukhari , Borren and Street pencilled in the pace section already looks fairly solid, and Barends aside it’s not easy to pick a fourth seamer. Champions Excelsior boast four quicks that all passed 20 wickets at a sub-20 average, of whom the stand-out is probably Rens van Troost who bagged 23 scalps at 16.39. But behind Barends and Bukhari the summer’s most prolific wicket-taking quick was HBS’ Berend Westdijk, who took 31 in 16 matches to lift his total career tally past 200 and breaking into the top 50 wicket-takers.
RL: Van Troost was undoubtedly one of the most effective pace bowlers in the competition once he was fully fit and he was, along with skipper Tom Heggelman, a key factor in Excelsior’s regaining of the title. And Westdijk, too, must be regarded as a serious contender, the most productive of HBS’s under-regarded seam attack, in which Farshad Khan and Wessel Coster (as well as overseas Zak Gibson) bowled some seriously impressive spells.
RL: So: we’re agreed on Vikram Singh, Bryce Street, Peter Borren, Mudassar Bukhari, Saqib Zulfiqar, and Rens van Troost. That leaves five places: an opener (Wiffen, Visée, or possibly O’Dowd), an overseas (Diwan or Barends), a keeper (probably Croes if Visée doesn’t make it, or just possibly Buurman), at least one specialist batsman (Gomes if we treat him as local, and/or Cooper and/or Barresi), and possibly another bowler if there’s room. Personally, I’d be inclined to open with Visée, who would also keep, leaving room for both Cooper and Gomes, as well as whichever overseas we settle on and one more bowler.
BdJ: There’s certainly a case for opening with Visée, who racked up 417 runs across the season despite ducking out to Canada for three games, not least because his strike rate of 144.79 might go some way to balance out Singh’s comparatively conservative approach, which occasionally saw him rack up hefty scores to the detriment of VRA’s actual chance of winning. It’s likewise considerations of strike rate that put Cooper ahead of other contenders for the upper midlle order, though his improving offspin also helps, especially if one looks at qualifty of wickets over quantity. That said I’d hesitate to rely on either Cooper or Barresi as a second spinner to back up Zulfiqar, so Diwan’s a no-brainer for me. The question we’re left with is whether both Gomes and Barresi fit into the side, or whether we plump for another seamer. My inclination here would be to go with both Westdijk and van Troost, Barresi missing out unless a convincing case be made against Gomes’ local status. If forced to choose between van Troost and Westdijk, then purely on weight of wickets I’d go with the latter, though reasonable minds may differ.
RL: Let’s think about the attack: both Bukhari and Westdijk have regularly taken the new ball for their clubs, while the other seamers – Street, Van Troost and Borren – are arguably more effective later in the innings. The fact that three of these five are genuine all-rounders makes selection easier, so I’m happy to include all of them, and to take Diwan ahead of Barends on grounds of balance. With Visée keeping we have room for another specialist batsman, and that leaves us with the difficult choice between Gomes and Barresi. Would it be a criminal offence to exclude Gomes on grounds of nationality? His claims to being local are, it seems to me, doubtful at this stage, but his batting average is a tad better than Barresi’s, and his three centuries and four fifties in 18 innings constitutes an even more impressive level of consistency than Peter Borren’s. So Gomes shades it, and if that means we need to be a little flexible on our self-imposed two-foreigners policy, then so be it.
When all’s said and done, then, the TKcricket Team of the Season is: Tobias Visée (HBS), Vikram Singh (VRA), Ben Cooper (VRA), Sharn Gomes (HBS), Bryce Street (HCC), Peter Borren (VRA, captain), Mudassar Bukhari (Sparta), Saqib Zulfiqar (ACC), Kuldeep Diwan (Dosti), Rens van Troost (Excelsior), and Berend Westdijk (HBS).
It was, on the face of it, a Topklasse Sunday on which not a lot happened: the top four sides all won, the bottom four all lost, there was minimal movement in the table.
But for those hoping to peg back leaders Excelsior and for those propping up the table alike, with just four rounds of matches left, time is beginning to run out. And in the meantime, we are being treated to some absorbing cricket.
Most of the excitement this weekend seemed to involve VRA Amsterdam, who withstood a determined challenge in a rain-affected match on Saturday to hold off VOC Rotterdam, and then came close to pulling off a notable run chase of their own on Sunday before conceding defeat to Dosti United.
Rain on Saturday morning delayed the toss, and the match had been reduced to 38 overs a side before VRA began their innings.
Once again they lost early wickets, but a solid stand between Ben Cooper and Peter Borren put them into a much better position by the time the weather again intervened and a further 13 overs came off.
Cooper made 30, Borren 66, and after VRA finished on 155 for five the DLS adjustment left VOC chasing 189 to win.
Dirk van Baren gave his side a chance with a 20-ball 31, and then skipper Pieter Seelaar kept up the momentum with 62, made from just 53 deliveries, before departing hit wicket off Brandon Graber with 33 still needed.
David Mullett made 33, Pierce Fletcher hit a six in a brief stay at the crease, but with 15 needed off the last the tail could only manage seven, and VRA won by 7 runs.
Hoping to make it two out of two on Sunday, VRA ran into a Dosti United side who turned in one of their most solid performances of the season, and lost by 25 runs.
Batting first, Dosti recovered from the early loss of Vinoo Tewarie and Abhinav Bali, both falling to the returning Haseeb Gul Mia, to post 246 for six, with Taruwar Kohli (81) and Amitoze Singh (92) putting on 161 for the third wicket.
After they had both departed Rahil Ahmed (36 not out) and Anees Davids (24) kept the scoreboard moving, and VRA found themselves facing a very substantial target.
They made a disastrous start, two wickets for Kuldeep Diwan and one for Davids reducing them to 5 for three, but then Cooper and Borren again rebuilt the innings with a fourth-wicket stand of 148.
Borren was eventually caught behind off Davids for 43, but Cooper went on, for the second time this season, to make a century in a losing cause off the Dosti attack, hitting 114 at almost a run a ball.
When he was trapped in front by Mahesh Hans 68 were still needed with nine overs remaining, but the scoring now largely devolved upon Mitch Lees, and although he contributed 44 wickets continued to fall at the other end; he was eventually last out, a fifth wicket for Davids at a cost of 33 runs, with the total on 221. Diwan finished with three for 34.
Meanwhile at Thurlede, Excelsior ‘20 took another step towards their third title in four years with a 46-run victory over VOC Rotterdam.
The conventional wisdom in Schiedam is that anything approaching 200 at Thurlede is likely to be a winning score, and Excelsior’s 192 for seven, of which Tom Heggelman contributed a steady 52 and Branton Parchment a rather brisker 42, proved to be more than enough for their bowlers to defend.
Parchment removed both VOC openers, one of them the prolific Max O’Dowd, to rock the Rotterdam side back on their heels, and although Van Baren and Seelaar both made 26 and Mullett 25, by the time VOC had been reduced to 94 for seven the game was effectively up.
Another fine spell from Rens van Troost was this time rewarded with wickets, his figures three for 26, and there were three for Parchment as well at a cost of 24; the tail rallied somewhat to get VOC up to 146, but that was well short of what they needed.
HCC maintained their pursuit of the leaders by securing an even more decisive victory over Voorburg at Westvliet, the margin here being 80 runs.
With Bryce Street making 81, his seventh half-century in 12 innings, and smaller contributions from Boris Gorlee (42), Bharat Itagi (33) and Matt Hay (30 not out), HCC ran up 239 for six, and Nick Smit was again left to carry the Voorburg innings almost single-handed when the home side replied.
They had started promisingly enough, reaching 79 before the third wicket fell, but thereafter no-one apart from Smit was able to reach double figures, and the side were all out for 159, Smit left not out on 73.
Ali Ahmed Qasim took three for 37 for HCC, and there were two wickets apiece for Olivier Klaus, Hay and Itagi.
At Sportpark Bermweg ACC kept their title hopes alive by beating Sparta 1888 by 28 runs, but the Capelle side could take some consolation in having put up a rather more convincing show with the bat than they had against Dosti the week before.
ACC have had their own issues batting in recent weeks, and their total of 186 all out, made in exactly 50 overs, was due in no small measure to the contributions of Brady Barends (32) and Anis Raza (44 not out), batting at seven and eight respectively; Jean Marais was again the most impressive of the top order, making 32 before he was run out.
Playing a more restrained innings than usual, Ali Raza led the way for Sparta with 43 before hitting a return catch to his namesake, but it was left to Mudassar Bukhari to keep his side’s hopes alive with a fighting 46.
Wickets kept falling at the other end, however, and when Bukhari was last man out the Sparta total was just 158.
In Tobias Visée’s last match before leaving for the Canadian T20 tournament the HBS Craeyenhout batting line-up flicked back to dominant mode against neighbours Quick Haag: with Visée himself hitting a 60-ball 88 which included 12 fours and four sixes, he and Zac Elkin started with 120 for the first wicket, and then Elkin, who finished with 85, and Wesley Barresi added 154 for the fourth.
Barresi went on to make 110 from just 92 deliveries, again with 12 fours and four sixes, before becoming the first of a consolation hat-trick for Prathamesh Dake which left HBS on 323 for seven at the close.
Berend Westdijk then effectively Quick’s hopes by taking three wickets, including the vital one of Jay Bista, within the first five overs, and although Jeroen Brand (37), Lesley Stokkers (48) and Sumeet Diwan (23) fought a rearguard action, Quick were dismissed for 142.
Westdijk finished with three for 27, while Zak Gibson ran through the middle order, taking four for 16.
Excelsior ’20 extended their lead at the top of the table to three points, and their average-points lead to 0.13, with a hard-fought 28-run victory over ACC at Het Loopveld on Sunday.
It took an extremely disciplined effort by Excelsior in the field, with accurate bowling backed up by excellent fielding, to defend their fairly meagre total of 158 for seven, but so well did they maintain the pressure that ACC could only manage three fours – all from the bat of Jean Marais – and a single six by Anis Raza in the closing stages in their entire total of 130.
Excelsior had seemed to be well placed to post a much larger total when they were on 110 for two in the 31st over with Lorenzo Ingram and Brenton Parchment well set, but then spinner Saqib Zulfiqar and his seamer triplet Sikander applied the squeeze, and after the Schiedammers had lost three wickets in the space of five deliveries it was left to Tom Heggelman and Niels Etman to battle their way to a total they had some prospect of defending.
And they defended it with a will, Rens van Troost conceding only 20 runs in a wicketless but always probing 10-over spell, and Parchment and Ingram taking three wickets apiece, at a cost of 20 and 22 runs respectively.
Only Marais, top scorer in the match with a dogged 41, looked at all comfortable; and once he had gone the Zulfiqar brothers kept the scoreboard going for a time.
Sikander was eventually bowled by Sohail Bhatti, giving him his 250th wicket in the top flight, and when Saqib was run out four overs later the outcome was effectively settled.
Parchment and Ingram set their seal further on the match, the former pulling off a spectacular one-handed diving catch to dismiss Jamie Mulready, and the latter ending the game with a splendidly improvised handball-style run out.
At De Diepput HCC moved into second place, just ahead of ACC, with a comprehensive 8-wicket win over Quick Haag.
A 109-run partnership for the fourth wicket between Geert Marten Mol (72) and Jeroen Brand (56) enabled Quick to reach 203 for seven, with Hidde Overdijk again HCC’s spearhead with four for 36.
But HCC were untroubled in reaching their target with seven overs to spare: captain Tonny Staal made 50 out of an opening stand of 66 with Adam Wiffen, and after both openers had gone Bryce Street and Boris Gorlee put on 127 in an unbroken third-wicket partnership to finish the match.
Street ended on 71 while Gorlee, after hitting his maiden Topklasse half-century last week, repeated the trick to end on 55.
On HCC’s neighbouring second ground HBS Craeyenhout, whose own artificial outfield is being refurbished, lost by the same margin to VRA Amsterdam, who now seem to have rediscovered the winning habit with a vengeance.
After being put in HBS found themselves on 2 for three after just nine deliveries, Quirijn Gunning having removed Tobias Visée with the first ball of the match and Brandon Graber having dismissed Sharn Gomes and Navjit Singh with his first three balls.
That they were able to recover to 135 all out was due in large measure to an eighth-wicket stand of 58 between Wessel Coster (28) and Zak Gibson (44), while for VRA there were two wickets apiece for Gunning, Graber, Peter Borren and Adeel Raja, who claimed his 300th top-flight wicket in his 250th game.
It was a total which never seemed likely to trouble the Amsterdam side, and they took only 21.3 overs to complete the job: Eric Szwarczynski made 31 in an opening stand of 58 with Vikram Singh, who went on to make a 64-ball 73 not out, including eight fours and five sixes.
If HBS’s top-order collapse had been sensational, it was more than matched by Sparta 1888’s at Sportpark Drieburg where, chasing Dosti United’s 258 for seven, they were reduced to 2 for four and then to 10 for seven, before being dismissed in 10.4 overs for just 22.
There were nine ducks in the innings, certainly a record in the limited-overs era, with Garnett Tarr, on 10 not out, the only man to reach double figures.
Anees Davids was the main destroyer with seven for 6, including a hat-trick, while Kuleep Diwan claimed the remaining three wickets at a cost of 11 runs.
The match had begun normally enough, apart from a couple of stoppages for rain, with Vinoo Tewarie (39) and Abhinav Bali (58) putting on 107 for the first wicket and then Amitoze Singh contributing a run-a-ball 64.
Diwan chipped in with 43 in the closing overs, while for Sparta Sawan Sardha was the most successful bowler with three for 41.
The remaining match, between VOC Rotterdam and Voorburg, was abandoned well before the scheduled start because the Hazelaarweg ground was waterlogged after heavy rain.
The Topklasse produced one of those days on Sunday on which all the glorious – some might say perilous – uncertainty of cricket was displayed to the full.
It was a day when the side leading the table was skittled for 75; when the bottom side pulled off a win against one of the top four; when the highest-scoring match yielded more than three times as many runs as the lowest; and when teams from opposite ends of the table managed to tie.
On a day of surprises the biggest shock came at Westvliet where Voorburg, having collapsed to 122 all out, dismissed leaders ACC for 75 and won by 47 runs.
It had all begun conventionally enough after Saqib Zulfiqar invited the home side to bat first: Tom de Grooth and Matt Smit put on 34 for the first wicket, and even at 73 for two with Noah Croes and Nic Smit at the crease everything seemed normal.
But then the middle order crumbled, four wickets fell for five runs, and it took some notable resistance from Viv Kingma and Brandon Glover to get the total up past the hundred.
Saqib Zulfiqar engineered the collapse with three for 31, while Anis Raza and Devanshu Arya picked up two each.
What should have been a routine chase soon turned into a rout: Rehmat Zulfiqar kicked off with 22 and brother Saqib made 16, but no-one else managed double figures as the Amsterdammers slumped from 62 for three to 75 all out, Viv Kingma running through the middle order to finish with three for 17 and Phillipe Boissevain cleaning up for three for 7.
Excelsior ‘20 were unable to take full advantage of events at Westvliet, but the one point they took from their tied match against Sparta 1888 at Sportpark Bermweg was enough to lift them clear at the top of the table.
Batting first, Sparta battled their way to 181 for eight, thanks to a dogged 72 not out from Andrew Fletcher – his most significant Topklasse innings to date – and an eighth-wicket stand of 59 between him and Sawan Sardha after Excelsior’s bowlers had reduced the hosts to 113 for seven at one stage.
Tom Heggelman removed both openers in a six-over spell, but it was Rens van Troost who dismissed both Mudassar Bukhari and Atse Buurman to put his side in the driving seat.
But Fletcher stood firm, seeing it through to the end, and at bowler-friendly Bermweg 181 seemed like a defensible total.
Tim Etman and Roel Verhagen started the chase promisingly with an opening stand of 50 and Verhagen went on to make 51, but Sparta’s attack whittled away at the batting, and when Heggelman was eighth out with the total on 139 it looked as if Excelsior, too, were destined to lose.
Van Troost and Umar Baker added 26 precious runs for the ninth wicket, however, and after Baker was out LBW to Fletcher Sohail Bhatti joined Van Troost in a last-wicket stand which brought their side to the brink of victory.
Eight runs were needed off the final two overs, six off the next meant that only two were required; a wide from Fletcher levelled the scores, but a succession of dots meant that one was still required off the final delivery – the batsmen ran, Fletcher gathered and threw, and Van Troost was run out.
If the bowlers were generally in charge in these two games, elsewhere it was the batsmen who prospered.
Nowhere was this more true than at Nieuw Hanenburg, where VOC ran up a massive 338 for six – the highest total of the season – against Quick Haag, and where Jay Bista then produced a superb century in a losing cause.
Bista’s effort was more than matched by Max O’Dowd, who continued his Bradmanesque run of form with a 124-ball 127 for VOC, hitting nine fours and six sixes and sharing in a fourth-wicket stand of 162 with Scott Edwards, who made 79.
Once O’Dowd and Edwards had departed, both victims of Prathamesh Dake who took three for 62, Jelte Schoonheim, Ashiqullah Said and Pierce Fletcher piled on the misery for Quick, Fletcher rubbing it in by hitting four consecutive sixes off Geert Maarten Mol’s final over of the innings.
Undaunted by the size of the task they faced, Bista and Bob van Gigch put on 111 in less than 16 overs as Quick replied, Van Gigch making 43 before he was bowled by Pieter Seelaar.
With wickets now falling steadily at the other end Bista continued in devastating style, his half-century coming from 42 deliveries and his hundred from 72; in all he hit nine fours and four sixes before falling to a catch on the long on boundary off Schoonheim when he had made 109.
The result was no longer in doubt, but Daan Vierling (36) and Thijs van Schelven (18) kept the fight going, and the total had reached 276 by the time Dake became Ashiqullah’s third scalp at a cost of 46 and VOC won by 62 runs.
In the Amsterdamse Bos VRA’s resurgence continued at the expense of HCC, who thus failed to take advantage of the two leaders’ lapses.
VRA’s win, though, meant that they rose from the foot of the table, overtaking Quick Haag and moving within sight of the other stragglers.
The architects of their 35-run victory were once again Eric Szwarczynski (71) and Peter Borren (66), whose 135-run partnership for the fourth wicket enabled them to reach a solid 230 for six after having been 60 for three at one stage.
With Adam Wiffen leading the charge HCC started strongly in response, but with wickets falling at the other end it took a stand between Wiffen and Boris Gorlee to give them a realistic chance of achieving their target.
The turning point came when Quirijn Gunning returned to the attack and removed Wiffen for 83; although Gorlee stood firm, wickets continued to fall and the required rate crept upwards, with Debrup Dasgupta taking three for 36 and Leon Turmaine three for 39 as HCC were eventually dismissed for 195, Gorlee the last to go for 66 – his highest Topklase score.
The biggest partnership of the day came at Sportpark Drieburg, where Zac Elkin and Sharn Gomes added 211 for the second wicket for HBS Craeyenhout against Dosti United.
Tobias Visée had gone early, falling to Dosti’s tactic of opening with spinner Kuldeep Diwan, but then Elkin and Gomes took over, batting together for 42 overs and pushing the total well past 200.
Gomes was the first to reach his century, with his partner following soon afterwards, and after Elkin was caught by Waheed Masood off Taruwar Kohli’s bowling for a 141-ball 104 which included seven fours and two sixes, Gomes pressed home the advantage with Wesley Barresi, whose first run took him past 7000 in the top flight.
Gomes finished on 123, made from 137 deliveries with ten fours, and Barresi on 25, which took him just ten balls, as the innings closed on 273 for two.
That proved too much for Dosti, despite another heroic effort from Kohli – he made 84 as wickets fell around him, and apart from an 80-run stand with Anees Davids for the fifth wicket he was unable to find partners who stayed with him for any length of time.
Gradually the required rate climbed out of reach, and eventually he was caught on the boundary by Julian de Mey off Berend Westdijk with 61 still needed and just one wicket remaining.
The innings ended soon afterwards on 213 and HBS won by 60 runs, the wickets shared among Westdijk, Wessel Coster, Zak Gibson and De Mey.
Like a ship struck amidships the Topklasse table broke into two on Saturday, as the gap between the top four and the rest extended to six points with only seven rounds still to play.
There is still plenty to play for at both ends of the table, however, with the leading four sides all winning to stay in contention for the championship and VRA’s defeat of VOC lifting them to within one win of potential relegation candidates Sparta 1888 and Quick Haag.
There were dominating performances by the co-leaders, ACC and Excelsior ’20 and by their closest rivals HCC, all of whom posted comfortable home victories.
ACC restricted Quick Haag to 164 for nine at Het Loopveld, a total which they had little difficulty in passing for the loss of five wickets.
Brady Barends was again the spearhead for ACC, trapping Jay Bista in front when he had made just four and cleaning up the tail to finish with five for 27, while Saqib Zulfiqar took three for 28, including the scalp of Bobby van Gigch, who had made 45 and shared a 50-run partnership for the third wicket with Geert Maarten Mol.
That left Mol to try to hold the rest of the innings together: his unbeaten 70 enabled Quick to get as far as they did but, Jeroen Brand apart, he received little support from the rest of the side.
Rehmat Zulfiqar then hit a splendid 84 not out to steer his side to victory, dominating a 97-run stand for the second wicket to which his partner, Shirase Rasool, contributed just 28.
Once Rasool was dismissed by Van Gigch the ACC chase faltered slightly, but Rehmat and his brother Sikander took them to within five runs of their target, and it was all over with more than 13 overs left.
Excelsior’s 90-run victory over Voorburg at Thurlede was almost equally convincing, although Voorburg did well initially to dismiss the Schiedam side for 192.
It would, indeed, have been a good deal less had Voorburg held their catches or even been less prodigal with their wides, but nevertheless there were excellent bowling performances from the new-ball pairing of Viv Kingma, who took three for 27, and Brandon Glover, and from Stef Mulder, who turned in a splendid eight-over spell without being rewarded with a wicket.
The Excelsior innings was disrupted early by the retirement of Tim Etman with back problems, although he returned later to be last man out for 37.
All the top order got a start, but the top score of 38 came from Joost Kroesen and no-one else looked likely to get on top of the bowling.
Voorburg found conditions even more difficult when they replied, and once Tom Heggelman and Brenton Parchment had reduced them to 27 for four the outcome was virtually settled.
Nic Smit stayed almost to the end, recording the only half-century of the match with a dogged 52, but otherwise only Philippe Boissevain managed to reach double figures as Heggelman and Rens van Troost cut a swathe through the batting, and the side were eventually dismissed for 102.
It was a similar story at De Diepput, where HCC, defending a total of 201, dismissed Dosti United for 157 to win by 44 runs.
Bryce Street was once more the mainstay of the HCC top order, making a 76-ball 64 to take his side to 155 for four, with skipper Tonny Staal contributing 35.
Thereafter Kuldeep Diwan cut through the middle order to finish with four for 22, and with two wickets each for Anees Davids and Taruwar Kohli Dosti seemed to be fairly well placed at the innings break.
Abhinav Bali led the way with 48 when Dosti replied, but with Kohli and Amitoze Singh again going for relatively modest scores the game was swinging the home side’s way, with Rahil Ahmed the only significant contributor thereafter.
Bharat Itagi ran through the lower order and when he dismissed Ahmed as well, bowled after making a defiant 42, the result was settled. Itagi ended with five for 22, his best figures for HCC.
HBS Craeyenhout had to endure some nervous moments before overcoming Sparta 1888, despite having once again posted the highest total of the day with 298 for seven.
The HBS top four again set a cracking pace, led by Tobias Visée’s 18-ball 37 and consolidated by Zac Elkin (70), Sharn Gomes (42) and Wesley Barresi (68).
But then Mudassar Bukhari put the brakes on somewhat in the closing stages, taking four for 50, and HBS closed just short of the 300 they had at one point seemed certain to pass.
Berend Westdijk set Sparta back on their heels by removing both openers in the first over of the reply, but first Garnett Tarr and Andrew Fletcher, with a third-wicket stand of 72, and then Tarr and Bukhari, who added 113 for the fourth, responded powerfully to the challenge.
Westdijk eventually removed Tarr for 83 with the total on 187, but Bukhari continued in tandem with Atse Buurman to bring the score to within 70 of the target.
Bukhari’s dismissal by Wessel Coster, the last of four catches behind the stumps for Visée, when the former international allrounder had made a 75-ball 87, marked the effective end of the chase, and although Buurman remained not out on 32 the innings closed 35 runs short.
Westdijk was the most successful of the HBS bowlers with four for 54.
There was another spirited chase in a high-scoring match at Hazelaarweg, where VOC Rotterdam failed by just 11 runs to match VRA Amsterdam’s 290 for five.
The foundation of VRA’s largest total of the summer was a fine 121 from Emile van den Burg, his second top-flight century, who after partnerships of 77 with Vikram Singh (31) and 46 with Ben Cooper, shared a stand of 140 for the third wicket with Peter Borren, who made a 67-ball 82.
For the second week in a row the VOC attack wilted in the heat, Pieter Seelaar trying ten bowlers, he himself the most successful with two for 40.
VOC were in trouble at 63 for three with Max O’Dowd one of those back in the pavilion, but then Seelaar and Scott Edwards mounted a fightback, their fourth-wicket stand of 180 equalling the best of the season and taking their side to within at least a distant sight of victory.
Ben Cooper, who had taken a total of only 11 wickets in four seasons before this year, now seized his moment, removing Seelaar for 93 with 48 needed and then, even more crucially, Edwards for 91 with VOC still 27 short.
The tail got them to within 16 as Cooper’s final over started, but he allowed only four runs and claimed another wicket to leave VOC on 279 for nine and finish with four for 57.
HBS Craeyenhout retained their unbeaten record on Thursday with a 39-run victory over neighbours Quick Haag, but ACC and HCC maintained their pursuit with wins over Sparta 1888 and Voorburg and remain just one game behind.
For the third round in a row HBS posted the highest total of the day – admittedly this time only by a couple of runs – as they ran up 264 for seven against Quick Haag.
It was Sharn Gomes who formed the spine of the innings with a 109-ball 81, coming in after the early departure of Zac Elkin and remaining until he was sixth out with the total on 205.
He shared half-century partnerships with Navjit Singh (32) and Wesley Barresi (23), while in the closing stages Zak Gibson and Wessel Coster piled on the runs in an unbroken eighth-wicket stand of 56.
The Quick bowlers stuck to their task well, Jay Bista, Geert Maarten Mol and Jeroen Brand collecting two wickets apiece, but long-awaited debutant Prathamesh Dake was wicketless, his ten overs costing 60 runs.
After a promising 40-run start by Bista and Bob van Gigch, Coster and Berend Westdijk began to cut through the Quick top order, and the visitors’ cause was not helped when Mol was forced to retire hurt.
He soon returned and went on to top-score with 45, but the battery of HBS seamers, supported by Barresi’s spin, continued to work their way through the batting, and at 131 for seven Quick seemed doomed to a hefty defeat.
The tail wagged, however, and after Mol’s departure the last-wicket pair of Sumeet Diwan and Hayden Brain added 48 runs before the latter was run out for 38, the Quick innings closing on 225 to give HBS a 39-run victory.
ACC held on to second place with a 41-run victory over Sparta 1888 in a match reduced to 46 overs after overnight rain and an uncovered pitch Loopveld led to a delayed start.
The game was dominated by the bowlers, with 38 by ACC’s Jean Marais the top score on either side. He was eventually one of six victims for Mudassar Bukhari, whose figures of six for 26 were his best ever in the top flight, surpassing his six for 29 for ACC themselves against Hermes-DVS in 2013.
Rehmat Zulfiqar (22) and Shirase Rasool (29) also contributed to ACC’s total of 171, which proved to be sufficient to make sure of the points.
Although Andrew Fletcher (26) and Garnett Tarr (24) gave Sparta a decent start, Aryan Kumar removed both of them and Atse Buurman into the bargain, and then Saqib Zulfiqar ran through the tail to finish with five for 34 as Sparta were all out for 130.
Half-centuries by Bharat Itagi and Boris Gorlee were the basis of HCC’s total of 199 all out against struggling Voorburg at De Diepput, with Clayton Floyd the most successful of the visitors’ bowlers with three for 30.
That, too, turned out to be a winning total, as Voorburg, having reached 151 for three thanks to 58 by Matt Smit and 41 by his debutant younger brother Nic, again collapsed to 174 all out.
Hidde Overdijk took four for 42 for HCC, with two run outs helping to ensure the home side’s 25-run victory.
At Sportpark Drieburg, Dosti United maintained their challenge by beating bottom-placed VRA Amsterdam, but for the second game in succession VRA gave a spirited response when chasing a big total.
Put in to bat in damp conditions, Dosti made 262 for nine, with Taruwar Kohli’s 99-ball 89 the core of the innings. He shared stands of 72 with opener Rahil Ahmed (38), and then of 107 with Amitoze Singh, whose 54 came from 69 deliveries.
A flurry of wickets in the last ten overs, with pace man Brandon Graber claiming four for 55 and off-spinner Leon Turmaine four for 56, limited the carnage to some degree, but 262 was still an imposing total.
It looked more imposing still when VRA had been reduced to 46 for four, with Matt Lake, Vikram Singh, Peter Borren and Emile van den Burg already gone, but Ben Cooper, after a run of low scores, was determined to keep his side in the game.
Supported first by Tom Long and then by Quirijn Gunning he mounted an almost single-handed pursuit of the target, striking fifteen fours and five sixes on his way to a 126-ball 144 before he was last out, VRA’s total still 31 runs short of the Dosti score.
The decisive factor in Dosti’s victory was Amitoze Singh, held back by skipper Vinoo Tewarie until the 40th over but then producing a superb display of swing bowling which yielded three wickets at the cost of just 16 runs.
In the battle of the former champions at Hazelaarweg Excelsior’s indifferent form and VOC’s recovery both continued, enabling the Rotterdam side to claim a five-wicket victory.
After Ashiqullah Said and Paul Fletcher reduced Excelsior to 12 for three, including the vital wicket of Lorenzo Ingram, Pieter Seelaar and Dirk van Baren continued the demolition, and at one stage Excelsior were 69 for seven.
That they were able to reach 154 was due to a maiden Topklase half-century by David Woutersen, who shared useful partnerships with Rens van Troost and Umar Baker, while Seelaar had the best return of the VOC bowlers with three for 16.
It looked as if VOC would coast to victory when Corey Rutgers (56) and Max O’Dowd (37) put on 84 for the first wicket, but another middle-order collapse had them faltering at 121 for five, and it was left to Jelte Schoonheim, who hit an 11-ball 27 not out, to see them home in tandem with Scott Edwards, and they won with nearly sixteen overs to spare.
With four rounds of matches in the space of twelve days, starting with Thursday’s Ascension Day holiday, the Topklasse moves into its traditional burst of intensity which could have a key role in determining the ultimate shape of the table.
RL: With four wins out of four, HBS Craeyenhout will go into their derby with their neighbours in the Bosjes van Pex, Quick Haag, brimming with a confidence all the greater because of Quick’s indifferent form so far. If their attack made less impact than they might have hoped against a rather tottery VRA batting line-up, their four-man seam attack and pair of spinners have generally been an effective force, and they are likely to cause plenty of problems against a Quick side which, even with the addition of Jean Bredenkamp, has looked to be well short of Topklasse form. But they did manage to ambush VOC, and that may suggest that they have a better chance chasing than they do trying to set a target. That said, the HBS top six are a menacing prospect for any bowlers, and the odds favour the Craeyenhout outfit whoever gets first use of the wicket.
BdJ: The momentum’s certainly with the Crows as they welcome their local rivals to Craeyenhout, boasting a perfect record so far with Quick still looking for their second win. Bredenkamp’s cameo last week is understood to be a one-off, but Quick nonetheless head across the way appreciably strengthened by the arrival of last season’s MVP Jay Bista and fellow Mumbaiker Prathamesh Dake. Bista’s presence as batting linchpin will be a worry for the HBS bowling attack, which has generally been solid but uninspiring thus far, but whether Dake will have any more luck containing or removing the Crow’s explosive top-order than anyone else has so far is probably the crucial question hanging over the game.
RL: Having seen off the ACC challenge on Saturday, Excelsior ‘20 will travel to Hazelaarweg in good spirits for their meeting with VOC. The champions, though, will be greatly heartened by having their first points under their belt, and this game may prove to be as tough a battle as this match-up produced last season. The Schiedammers’ batting was again heavily dependent on their two overseas players against ACC, and Brenton Parchment’s efforts with the new ball were equally crucial in enabling them to seize the initiative in the field. VOC’s batting is, if anything, in somewhat rockier shape, and while the attack has benefited from the acquisition of Noman Kamawa Pieter Seelaar’s side is still some way short of the title-winning form they mustered last season.
BdJ: A tough one to call, this, with both sides looking much diminished since their title-winning days. The loss of Umar baker to their opponents coupled with Max O’Dowd’s as yet unrewarding switch to leg-spin has left VOC looking far more vulnerable at home, where last season their spin attack ensured they didn’t lose a game. Excelsior do indeed look rather dependent on their two Jamaican overseas, but then both Ingram and Parchment have looked entirely dependable so far. The defection of Baker means Excelsior have arguably the stronger slow-bowling attack this season, and though the youth graduates that helped win them two titles in a row seem to be in a collective slump at the moment they will fancy their chances against a VOC side in the midst of a rebuild.
RL:ACC, on the other hand, return to Het Loopveld for a match against Sparta 1888 which should give them an early opportunity to make amends for last Saturday’s defeat. Their surprise win over Excelsior apart, Sparta have been far from impressive so far, and it has been the efforts of Max Hoornweg, with 14 wickets at 12.36, which have been their most significant plus point. Andrew Fletcher’s battle to adapt to Dutch conditions (which has yielded him just 50 runs in four innings) must be a genuine source of concern at the Bermweg, but he is too good a player for this to continue for long. Even while losing to Excelsior the Amsterdammers did enough to confirm that their position at the top was no flash in the pan: they have a varied attack, and although their top order was hustled out in short order, the Zulfiqar brothers and Shirase Rasool (a modified re-formation of last season’s popular folk group) are unlikely to succumb so easily a second time.
BdJ: As some predicted, ACC’s run of wins came to an end at first sight of a turf wicket, and doubtless the Amsterdammers will be happy to feel the familiar mat under their feet again on Thursday. Their new acquisitions in Jean Marais and especially Brady Barends have proven shrewd ones, though it is the marked improvement of youngsters Rasoole and Kumar that has done the most to lift ACC stocks this season. That said, one has the feeling that Sparta’s best cricket is yet to come, and they have looked competitive across most of their games even as their overseas failed to really fire. It is reasonable to assume that at some stage the performance of Fletcher especially is bound to revert to the mean, and there’s no reason Thursday shouldn’t be the day. And given that I’ve called every single ACC match wrong so far, they’ll doubtless be delighted to hear that I’m picking Sparta to spring an upset at het Loopveld.
RL: The third of the teams jockeying for position a game behind the leaders, HCC are at home to Voorburg, a contest which brings Tom de Grooth and Philippe Boissevain back to De Diepput in the unfamiliar role of visitors. With Tonny Staal running into excellent form against Quick on Saturday HCC did not need to turn to Adam Wiffen, and Voorburg might look envyingly at the relatively prolific batting line-up of the home side. One cannot escape the feeling, however, that Voorburg’s travails with the bat are a temporary phenomenon, and that before long an opposing attack will be on the receiving end of their return to form. Their attack, certainly, is strong enough to defend any half-decent total, and they almost succeeded in defending a decidedly indecent one against VOC at the weekend. HCC’s bowlers, though, have disposed of VRA and Quick on their last two outings, and they will start as favourites to repeat the trick on Thursday.
BdJ: There’s no word as yet on whether the finger injury Wiffen sustained last week will keep him out on Thursday, but it will be a major blow to HCC’s hopes if it does. Though Staal, Street and Itagi all have runs under their belt this season, the HCC middle order has looked brittle when it has been tested, and with Kingma and Glover sharing the new ball for VCC early wickets are a safe bet. The question remains whether they will have much to bowl at, as the Voorburg batting line-up has looked equally suspect when the top order has failed. Indeed despite the overseas reinforcements they have called in, VCC have missed Bas de Leede in the middle order more than many had anticipated.
RL: The holiday schedule means that Dosti United, free of competition from Saturday football fixtures, are able to entertain VRA at Sportpark Drieburg. It’s a vital match for both sides: Dosti are two games behind the leaders and need to avoid falling back further, while their visitors have yet to post a win and are much in need of their first points. Vikram Singh’s maiden Topklasse century will have given them a boost, but they need runs from Ben Cooper (9 runs in three innings so far) as well as from Peter Borren and Eric Szwarczynski if they are to set challenging totals. Dosti are still in second gear, but if their four overseas players – who played a decisive role in the win over Sparta on Saturday – all fire at once we can look forward to some spectacular cricket from a side which has the potential to be serious title contenders.
BdJ: Though slow starts are something of a VRA tradition, it’s beginning to look as if the Bos-dwellers have stalled in the blocks this season, if you will pardon the mixed metaphor. One would expect what is on paper a strong batting unit to come good eventually, Szwarczynski, Borren and now Singh all have decent scores this season, as does Cooper if one looks beyond the Topklasse, but the bowling is perhaps more of a worry. VRA’s attack has not come close to bowling a side out, having managed just 8 wickets in total across three matches so far. With newcomers Graber and Long still waiting for their first Topklasse wickets and Gunning and Turmaine both at less than their best, one suspects Thursday will see Taruwar Kohli add to his growing tally of Topklasse centuries. VRA remain too good a side to go winless for long, but they may well manage another few days.
Rod Lyall’s tips: HBS, Excelsior, ACC, HCC, Dosti. Bertus de Jong’s tips: HBS, Excelsior, Sparta, VCC, Dosti.
ACC suffered their first defeat of the season at Thurlede on Saturday, going down to Excelsior ’20 by 47 runs, while HBS hung on against a late challenge by VRA in the Amsterdamse Bos to win by 18 runs and move clear at the top of the table.
Winning the toss and electing to bat, Excelsior ‘20 reached 221 for seven, thanks to a third-wicket partnership of 97 between Lorenzo Ingram and Brenton Parchment.
ACC pace man Brady Barends removed Roel Verhagen, restored to an opening slot after returning from injury, in his first over, and then came back to break the Ingram-Parchment stand by trapping Parchment in front after he had compiled an invaluable 45.
Helped by an aggressive cameo by Joost Kroesen, who made a rapid 22, Ingram went on to post his sixth Topklasse century. He faced 136 deliveries for his 102, including eight fours and three sixes, and when he departed just before the close he had seen his side safely past the 200 mark.
Skipper Saqib Zulfiqar cashed in in the final overs and took four for 46, but it was Barends who bowled with hostility throughout for figures of two for 47 and the spinners Devanchu Arya and Anis Raza, who conceded 29 and 30 respectively in their 10-over spells, who were the most impressive of the ACC attack.
ACC were soon in trouble when they replied, slumping to 47 for four, and when Sikander Zulfiqar, having made 27, was run out with the total on 88 their cause was effectively lost.
Raza held the innings together as best he could and reached his first Topklasse half-century to finish with an unbeaten 67, but he eventually ran out of partners, the innings closing on 174 in the 48th over. Parchment and Tom Heggelman claimed three wickets apiece for the Schiedammers.
HBS Craeyenhout again posted the highest total of the day, their 273 for two dominated by a stand of 160 for the second wicket by Zac Elkin and Sharn Gomes.
Gomes contributed 68, while Elkin batted throughout the innings for an unbeaten 116, made from 157 deliveries with six fours and three sixes.
Elkin’s knock was matched by that of VRA’s Vikram Singh, who at the age of 16 years 136 days became the youngest-ever centurion in the Dutch top flight, eclipsing the two-week old record set by ACC’s Shirase Rasool, who had been 22 days older when he performed the feat.
Unlike Elkin, however, Singh was unable to find someone to share a really decisive partnership: Peter Borren made 32 and skipper Emile van den Burg 21, but when Singh was eventually bowled by Wesley Barresi for 102, made from 147 balls with ten fours, VRA were still well adrift at 183 for six.
But keeper Mitch Lees was still there, and with some support from the tail he made a hard-hitting 51, hitting four sixes and bringing his team frustratingly close to what had been an extremely imposing target.
Barresi was the most successful of the HBS bowlers with three for 56, and the new-ball pairing of Berend Westdijk and Zak Gibson collected two wickets each.
HCC kept pace with the leading group by cruising to an eight-wicket victory over Quick Haag at Nieuw Hanenburg, with skipper Tonny Staal hitting an unbeaten 86 to enable his side to chase down a modest Quick total of 169.
Quick were strengthened by the advent of Namibian international Jean Bredenkamp, who played for them in 2017 and who anchored their innings with 55.
He did not receive much support, however, Quick’s top scorers otherwise being once again Geert Maarten Mol with 29 and Thijs van Schelven with 26, while for HCC Bryce Street took three for 44 and Ali Ahmed Qasim, Hidde Overdijk and Bharat Itagi claimed two wickets each.
Itagi and Staal then got HCC off to a lightning start, putting on 82 in just over twelve overs, and Street helped Staal maintain the momentum with a 37-ball 40 which took the visitors to the brink of victory.
Finishing the job in just 26.2 overs HCC did their net run rate a power of good in a season when that might just be important in sorting out the table at the end of August.
While still playing some way below what they are almost certainly capable of, Dosti United were decidedly too strong forSparta 1888 at Sportpark Bermweg.
Taruwar Kohli (36) and Amitoze Singh (54) contributed over half of the visitors’ total of 174, with Max Hoornweg again the principal wicket-taker for Sparta with four for 41. Andrew Fletcher backed him up well with three for 35.
Then Kuldeep Diwan (three for 19), Kohli (two for 12) and Anees Davids (two for 18) claimed seven Sparta wickets as Dosti ran through the home side’s batting, dismissing them for 113.
Atse Buurman again provided much of the resistance, top-scoring with 29, and it took a late rally by Joost Martijn Snoep and Manminder Singh to get Sparta’s total into three figures.
Defending champions VOC Rotterdam recorded their first win of the season at Westvliet, where Voorburg again performed poorly with the bat and collapsed to 135 all out.
It would have been even worse without a spirited knock of 44 from Viv Kingma, who came in with his team on 75 for six and almost immediately lost Noah Croes, who had made 31.
Kingma got Voorburg to 135 almost single-handedly, dominating a last-wicket stand of 47 with Stef Mulder.
VOC’s attack was reinforced by the inclusion of Belgian international Noman Kamawi, who took three for 12.
The Rotterdammers made heavy weather of their chase, with Kingma grabbing three quick wickets to reduce them to 48 for four, and it took some dogged batting from Pieter Seelaar (26) and Dirk van Baren (22) to get them over the line.
After an impressive opening-day victory promoted side Voorburg have now lost three on the trot, and unless their batsmen can reverse their current slump the Voorburgers could find themselves in a battle to avoid a speedy return to the Hoofdklasse.
The bowlers were back in control in Saturday’s third-round matches with only one side managing to get past 200, and Sparta 1888 and Quick Haag, previously winless, sprung surprises by beating Excelsior ’20 and defending champions VOC Rotterdam respectively.
The biggest upset came at Thurlede, where Sparta successfully defended a meagre total of 189, bowling the previously unbeaten home side out for 146.
Star of the show for Sparta was young Max Hoornweg – incidentally the grandson of former international pace man Ruud Onstein – who finished with career-best figures of seven for 36.
Hoornweg reduced Excelsior to 43 for three, including the key wickets of Lorenzo Ingram and Brenton Parchment, and then returned to clean up the tail.
Tim Etman again top-scored for Excelsior with a patient 45, but of the later batsmen only skipper Tom Heggelman with 31 showed any real sign of resistance.
Earlier, opener Garnett Tarr had led the way for Sparta with an 81-ball 61, the highest score of the match, while Andrew Fletcher showed the first signs of what he is capable of in making 32. Sohail Bhatti was the most successful of the Excelsior bowlers with three for 22, and there were two apiece for Heggelman and Ingram.
If VOC might have counted themselves a little unlucky to have been narrowly beaten by Dosti on the season’s opening day, there could be no doubts about their defeat by Quick Haag at Hazelaarweg on Saturday.
Their batting was unable to get going against a Quick attack still awaiting the arrival of its Indian reinforcements, and collapsed to 168 all out in just 38.3 overs.
Namibian Pieter Groenewald took three for 41, debutant Daniel Mason two for 34 and Thijs van Schelven two for 16 as VOC’s batsmen, despite mostly getting a start, were unable to build a competitive score.
Lesley Stokkers began the chase aggressively, making a 52-ball 45, and although they lost four wickets along the way Quick, judging the tempo perfectly, completed the win with more than five overs to spare, Rupert Young following up his century last week with a measured 34.
The old adage that there’s a big difference between an outstanding team on paper and an outstanding side on the field was vindicated twice this week.
At Het Loopveld Voorburg demonstrated, to their own chagrin, that last Saturday’s collapse against Excelsior was not an isolated event by falling apart even more comprehensively against a rampant ACC.
Put in to bat, the visitors lost skipper Tom de Grooth – one of four victims for ACC keeper Jean Marais – in the opening over before they had a run on the board, and Brady Barends went on to claim four more wickets to finish with five for 19 as Voorburg subsided to 84 all out.
Only Noah Croes (18) and Philippe Boissevain (20) reached double figures, while for ACC Devanshu Arya was also among the wickets with three for 15.
The Voorburg attack did their best to stage a spirited fightback, picking up six wickets as ACC chased down their modest target, but with Shirase Rasool compiling a mature 30 the home side made it within 25 overs, further improving their net run rate in the process.
In what was in many ways the most absorbing match of the day, HBS defeated Dosti United in a game of fluctuating fortunes, but it was the failure of Dosti’s threatening batting line-up to master the home side’s attack which produced a 66-run HBS victory.
Dosti’s bowlers, especially the spinners, had done well to hold the Crows to a total of 220 after they had been well placed on 119 for two after 27 overs, with Asief Hoseinbaks, Mahesh Hans and Kuldeep Diwan picking up seven wickets between them.
Although Diwan collected three wickets it was Hoseinbaks’ eight-over spell for figures of two for 25 which prevented the powerful HBS batting line-up from getting into top gear after Tobias Visée had given his side its usual rollicking start with a 21-ball 33.
Zac Elkin top-scored with 45 before hitting a return catch to Hoseinbaks, while Sharn Gomes contributed 39.
Backed up by outstanding fielding the HBS spinners, Wesley Barresi and Julian de Mey, also built the pressure when Dosti replied, and with five wickets down for 57 and Taruwar Kohli and Amitoze Singh among those who had come and gone, the Dosti cause was effectively lost.
Diwan played a defiant hand for his 37, but as he began to run out of partners he became one of several Dosti batsmen to hole out at deep midwicket, and the innings eventually closed on 154.
De Mey took three for 34, and there were two wickets apiece for Zak Gibson, Farshad Khan and debutant Benno Boddendijk.
VRA’s unhappy start to the season continued at De Diepput, where they lost to HCC by seven wickets after having been dismissed for 189.
The match was a personal triumph for HCC’s Bharat Itagi, who took three for 30 in the VRA innings and then guided his side to the brink of victory with 90.
Itagi shared a 103-run partnership for the third wicket with Bryce Street, who went on to complete the task and finish with an unbeaten 59.
The VRA total owed much to the contribution of former international Eric Szwarczynski, who made 61 before being run out, while Peter Borren, who had earlier become VRA’s all-time leading run-scorer, claimed two of the three HCC wickets to fall.
After an initial defeat by HBS HCC are beginning to look like a well-balanced outfit, and with Hidde Overdijk and Olivier Klaus also picking up key wickets on Saturday they can look forward with some confidence.