HCC keep up the pursuit, but Excelsior edge closer

Rod Lyall 12/08/19


Excelsior 20’s continuing exercise in escapology was again in evidence at Thurlede on Sunday when, having collapsed from 105 for four to 169 all out against HBS Craeyenhout, they struck back to dismiss their opponents for 107 and move to within a single victory of claiming the Topklasse title.

The last remaining challenge comes from HCC, whose 42-run win over ACC at Het Loopveld gave them at least the mathematical possibility of overhauling the leaders, but to do so they would need not only to beat VOC and Sparta but to see Excelsior lose to Dosti and VRA.

The toss proved to be a crucial factor at Thurlede, since Tom Heggelman was able to give his batsmen first use of conditions which were most favourable in the first hour and which became steadily more perilous thereafter.

Tim Etman and Roel Verhagen, assisted by some wayward bowling from the HBS seamers, took full advantage, racing to 52 off the first ten overs despite the loss of Etman himself and Lorenzo Ingram, and then Brenton Parchment made a solid 49 before his dismissal triggered the loss of four more wickets for just 14 runs.

Farshad Khan was the pick of the HBS seam attack with three for 16, while Wesley Barresi claimed three for 24, including the crucial wicket of Parchment.

Parchment and Heggelman struck back immediately when HBS replied, removing both openers in the space of the first eight deliveries, and the Craeyenhout side never really recovered.

Sharn Gomes worked hard for his 34, but as Excelsior’s bowlers revelled in the increasingly difficult conditions for batting it soon became evident that the cause was hopeless.

Rens van Troost took three for 25 and Parchment and Ingram collected two apiece as HBS were dismissed in just 40.3 overs.

Given a great start by skipper Tonny Staal (43) and Adam Wiffen (44), who put on 85 for the first wicket, HCC posted the highest total of the day with 301 for seven.

Both were eventually dismissed by Devanshu Arya, who went on to claim two more wickets and finish with four for 38, but a fifth-wicket stand of 103 between Bryce Street and Hidde Overdijk put HCC back on top.

Overdijk’s 64 came from just 47 deliveries with seven fours and three sixes, while Street was still there at the end, finishing on 113 not out from 110 balls, with eight fours and three sixes.

ACC’s reply seemed to be foundering at 92 for five, but then Brady Barends joined Sikander Zulfiqar, and their stand of 79 kept the home side’s hopes alive.

Barends went for 43, but Zulfiqar continued in company with the tail, making 96 before he was last out, caught by Overdijk off Street’s bowling, with ACC still 42 behind; he faced 95 deliveries and struck five fours and four sixes.

Sparta 1888 improved their chances of remaining in the Topklasse with a 62-run victory over VOC Rotterdam at Sportpark Bermweg, but the match took a dramatic turn when VOC’s Dirk van Baren collapsed while bowling and was taken to hospital suffering from chest pains.

He was subsequently able to return to the ground, but the incident caused the game to be reduced to 44 overs a side, and Sparta, 82 for two at that point, reached 206 for six, setting VOC an adjusted DLS target of 213.

Sparta’s total came in large part from a stand of 86 for the third wicket between Tim de Kok (40) and Mudassar Bukhari (71), boosted by 37 not out from Manminder Singh in the closing overs.

Former international Bukhari then further proved his value by grabbing two early wickets, including that of Max O’Dowd, and although Pieter Seelaar made 58 VOC, with Van Baren unable to bat, were all out for 150.

Bukhari and Max Hoornweg shared the wickets, taking four for 36 and four for 32 respectively.

Sparta’s main rivals in the relegation battle, Quick Haag, gave VRA Amsterdam some uncomfortable moments at Nieuw Hanenburg but ultimately lost by three wickets thanks to an unbeaten 80 from Vikram Singh.

Quick were again given a flying start by Jay Bista after Daan Vierling had elected to bat first, the Indian opener smacking a 48-ball 51 before he was caught by Quirijn Gunning off Haseeb Gul Mia’s bowling.

With solid contributions from Geert Maarten Mol (32) and Jeroen Brand (37) Quick managed to reach 211 before they were dismissed in the penultimate over, Leon Turmaine the most successful of VRA’s bowlers with three for 31.

Singh then guided his side to victory with a maturity which belied his years, sharing valuable stands of 55 with Ben Cooper (who made 43 of them) and 77 with Turmaine (36).

But Eric Szwarczynski, Peter Borren and Emile van den Burg all went cheaply, and with two run-outs and Quirijn Gunning nursing a suspected broken hand, it was left to Singh to finish the job in company with Brandon Graber.

At Sportpark Drieburg Dosti United were much too strong for Voorburg, bowling them out for 137 and winning by a massive 146 runs.

The Amsterdam side’s total of 283 for eight was built on 89 from opener Rahil Ahmed, assisted by 46 from Abhinav Bali, and then a middle-order collapse was reversed by a remarkable innings from Kuldeep Diwan who, coming in at eight, hammered an unbeaten 76 in the closing overs.

Voorburg were soon in trouble in reply, Diwan removing Clayton Floyd and Nic Smit to reduce them to 29 for three, and although Noah Croes made a defiant 53 and Conrad Greenshields hit an unbeaten 42, the innings ended in just 35.2 overs.

Asief Hoseinbaks had his best return of the season with four for 34, Diwan finishing with two for 16 and Bali two for 31.

Gallery | Excelsior vs HBS | 11.08.19

Excelsior ’20 Schiedam vs HBS Craeyenhout at Thurlede – 11/08/19
scorecard | as it happened

Round 16 preview

Bertus de Jong & Rod Lyall 08/08/19

 

Three games to go and the Topklasse remains undecided at both ends of the table, though one of Sparta 1888 and Quick Haag is practically certain to finish bottom of the pile whilst Excelsior ‘20 have pulled away at the top, and may have a chance to claim the title this week with a win over HBS, should HCC lose to ACC.

 

BdJ: As it stands third-placed HBS Craeyenhout could theoretically still catch Excelsior, just three points ahead albeit from fewer completed matches. They will need to take the full two points back from Thurlede though, where Excelsior will be looking to claim a third title in four years in front of a home crowd. They will have to do so without skipper Toby Visée, who remains in Canada on duty with the Vancouver Knights at the GT20 (assuming the organisers manage to head off an incipient player strike.) Even without him they still have the best-performing top order in the league however, with Sharn Gomes, Zac Elkin and Wesley Barresi occupying the top three spots in the run tables, and have the hitting power to take a disciplined Excelsior fielding unit out of the equation. Conditions at Thurlede are unlikely to really suit HBS even without the factor of a fired-up home crowd, but nonetheless the Crows are probably the toughest assignment still on Excelsior’s agenda. The Schiedammers likely only need one more win to grab this year’s title, but HBS will at least be looking to make them wait another week.

RL: Both these sides are at their best batting first, though for different reasons: HBS because the strength of their top order consistently sets big targets, Excelsior because they specialise in defending modest ones. So this will be an unusually important toss, and whoever wins it will strike a significant blow for his side. Excelsior will have been boosted by Brenton Parchment’s first Topklasse half-century last Sunday, and the bowling managed to dismiss HCC’s challenge without a contribution from Rens van Troost. On the other hand, attention for the powerful HBS batting line-up has tended to distract from the achievements of their bowling unit, which has been very effective much of the time. This should be a really interesting game, hopefully better than the damp squib we saw at De Diepput last week.


BdJ: Equally capable of frustrating Excelsior’s celebrations are second-placed HCC, who travel to het Loopveld to take on ACC,  now out of contention. The Amsterdammers have faltered somewhat after a strong start to the season, and the departure of Jean Marais has left their top-order looking short of stability, as evidenced by their remarkable collapse against VOC last week. The league’s lead wicket-taker Brady Barends has taken over Marais’ role at the top of the order, batting through ACC’s innings last Sunday for an unbeaten 65, but received little support from the rest of the line-up. With little left to play for the pressure will be off the Amsterdammers come Sunday at least, and HCC themselves had a less than stellar performance with the bat in the previous round. Yet HCC remain Excelsior’s nearest rivals for good reason, and with VOC and Sparta to look forward to have an easier run at the back end than the current table-toppers. With a first title in over a decade still in sight, fair to say HCC will be the side with the most to gain.

RL: Perhaps ACC should indeed push Barends up the order (he actually batted at eight last week, and eventually ran out of partners), since the departure of Marais leaves a considerable gap. 11 for five was exceptional, but the Amsterdammers have had only three really good starts so far and the fragility of their top order was disguised for a time by their overall performances and their early position at the head of the table. HCC are a better side than they showed against Excelsior, and in Hidde Overdijk, Ali Ahmed Qasim, Olivier Klaus and Bryce Street they have a seam attack which is at least as capable as VOC’s of creating havoc against a rocky batting side. Form says that the Lions will start as favourites, but Het Loopveld is never a comfortable place to visit, and ACC will doubtless be keen to convince their own crowd that last Sunday’s debacle was an unhappy one-off.


BdJ: At the other end of the table Quick Haag will be looking to get their fourth win on the board when they take on the now-safe VRA at Nieuw Hanenburg, looking to steal a march on relegation rivals Sparta ahead of their crucial clash next week. Once again Quick have looked reliant on Jay Bista and Geert Mol to keep their top-flight survival hopes alive, and the former’s relatively modest form (at least compared to last season) has left them staring down the barrel. VRA meanwhile have improved markedly since their horror start to the season, and will start the day as firm favourites. Questions about Haseeb Gul’s fitness are a worry however, especially in light of patchy performances from the rest of the attack through the summer. The batting likewise has been over-reliant on Peter Borren and Ben Cooper, though with both enjoying a fine run of form leading into the game a VRA win still looks the most likely outcome.

RL: There have been some classic matches between these sides in the past, but Quick’s miserable form this season suggests that – a sudden reversal excepted – this seems unlikely to be another. VRA’s own reversal has carried them towards the middle of the table, and having disposed of Sparta last week they will be keen to do the same against Quick. As always, much will depend on whether they can dismiss Jay Bista early on; if they don’t, he is capable to taking full advantage of a fairly limited VRA attack. He does, of course, need people to stay with him, and so far that’s mostly been either Geert Maarten Mol or Bobby van Gigch. The fact that Quick’s younger generation has so far failed to fire is one of the bleakest aspects of their situation; VRA may not have a squadron of youngsters, but they do have Vikram Singh, whose contribution to their recovery shouldn’t be underestimated.


BdJ: With just a single point advantage over Quick, Sparta 1888 remain in serious jeopardy too, though a win over VOC this Sunday would be a significant step toward securing safety. They will at least be back to something approaching full strength when they welcome the European Champions to Bermweg after fielding a rather ad-hoc side against VRA last week, but the departure of Garnett Tarr still leaves a serious hole in the batting order. Though VOC’s attitude in the Topklasse has been somewhat cavalier since their chances of mounting a serious title defence receded mid-season, the Rotterdammers’ trio of Dutch internationals continue to prove a match-winning combination. With Bobby Hanif back and leading the attack in the absence of Pierce Fletcher, taking two points off VOC remains a tough proposition.

RL: VOC’s ruthless demolition of ACC sets them up for their visit to the Bermweg, while Sparta know that two points here would give them a valuable cushion for their clash with Quick on 18 August. Sparta’s Mudassar Bukhari and Atse Buurman are two more veterans who have played a key role for their side this year, but it’s asking a lot for them to neutralise the effect of O’Dowd, Seelaar and Edwards, and although Andrew Fletcher has seemed a little more at ease of late, he has yet to turn in a match-winning performance. This wouldn’t be a bad time to do it, but the odds surely favour a VOC side who look stronger in both batting and bowling than their relegation-threatened hosts.


BdJ: The round’s final match sees Voorburg welcome Dosti-United to Westvliet, both sides looking destined for a mid-table finish after disappointing seasons. Fifth-placed Dosti are merely jostling for position at this point, long out of contention and danger, but Voorburg remain at least arithmetically at risk of a return to the Hoofdklasse if every remaining result goes against them. With Dosti’s Taru Kohli and Kuldeep Diwan done for the summer, VCC will sense an opportunity to put those fears to bed on Sunday. Widely tipped as title contenders ahead of the season, VCC have unquestionably underperformed, most markedly with the bat. Without a single batsman among the top 20 run-scorers this season, VCC have relied on occasional individual contributions from their inconsistent top-order to get scores on the board. Should nobody step up on Sunday they may go at least another week uncertain of their survival, or hope one of VRA or VOC do the job for them.

RL: The two sides whose performances on the field contrast most starkly with their strength on paper, Voorburg and Dosti have both lost players to the immigration rules in recent weeks. Yet both still have plenty of proven match-winners: Dosti’s Anees Davids and, on his day, Waheed Masood can unsettle any batting order, while the same obviously applies to Brandon Glover and Viv Kingma, although the latter has been below his best lately. That might suggest a low-scoring encounter, but if Abhinav Bali or Nic Smit gets going, there might be some lacquered leather to be chased as well. And if Westvliet plays anything like as well as it did for Tuesday’s T20 International, it will offer both batsmen and bowlers plenty of opportunities. A difficult one to pick, this, but with Vinoo Tewarie also among the runs I’m going with Dosti to shade it.


BdJ’s tips: HBS, HCC, VRA, VOC, VCC.

RL’s tips: Excelsior, HCC, VRA, VOC, Dosti.

Excelsior close in on the title

Rod Lyall 05/08/19


Excelsior’s third Topklasse title in four years began to look like a formality at De Diepput on Sunday, as Tom Heggelman’s side again defended a fairly modest total and beat HCC, their nearest challengers, by a comfortable 49-run margin.

That said, the match was a harder-fought affair than those bare facts suggest, and when the visitors, having elected to bat first, were reduced to 66 for four by a disciplined HCC attack it seemed possible that the home crowd might be rewarded with a crucial victory.

But then Joost Kroesen joined Brenton Parchment at the crease, and their 108-run stand for the fifth wicket laid the foundations for a substantial total.

Parchment’s 77 was his most significant contribution of the season with the bat, his first Topklasse half-century, but when Ali Ahmed Qasim, who had earlier dismissed both Excelsior openers, returned to remove both Kroesen for 42 and then Parchment in the space of five deliveries, the innings subsided disappointingly.

The last four wickets added only 25 runs and Excelsior were dismissed for 201 in exactly 48 overs, Qasim finishing with four for 39.

It should have been a gettable target, but the Schiedammers have developed a speciality in protecting lower totals than this, and they again combined accurate bowling with determined fielding as they restricted HCC to 152.

It would have been a good deal less had they not been so profligate with the chances offered by Hidde Overdijk, whose 46 was a defiant effort which saw him dropped three or four times along the way; coming in at 53 for four, he took his side to 151 for eight before his luck evaporated and he was somewhat unfortunately run out.

That spelled the end, and with Umar Baker, Lorenzo Ingram, Heggelman and Sohail Bhatti collecting a brace of wickets apiece, HCC were left to reflect on what might have been. They could still steal the title, but only if they win all three of their remaining matches and Excelsior lose twice.

ACC, another potential challenger for the championship, saw their hopes destroyed in the space of the first ten overs at Hazelaarweg, where VOC Rotterdam reduced them to 11 for five.

That they recovered to 174 for nine was due to a spirited fightback by Bas van der Heyde (36), Anis Raza (41) and Brady Barends, whose unbeaten 64 came at almost a run a ball and included eight fours and a six.

The initial onslaught came from Ashiqullah Said and Bobby Hanif, the latter finishing with three for 24 as he proved an outstanding replacement for Pierce Fletcher with the new ball.

VOC lost Sebastiaan van Lent and Max O’Dowd early in their reply, but once Pieter Seelaar and Scott Edwards came together the result was never really in doubt: Edwards was stumped by young Jamie Mulready off Devanshu Arya after making a 42-ball 55 which included six fours and three sixes, but Seelaar remained to the end, making a run-a-ball 64 as his side won by five wickets with more than eighteen overs to spare.

ACC’s defeat allowed HBS Craeyenhout to move into third place, thanks to their 30-run victory over Voorburg at De Diepput’s second ground.

An unbeaten 112 by Sharn Gomes, his third century of the season, and a stand of 97 with Wesley Barresi enabled HBS to recover from 17 for three and reach 232 for seven, although Voorburg were doubtless impeded by the requirement by the national team management that Brandon Glover and Viv Kingma bowl no more than five overs each.

Noah Croes then responded with his maiden Topklasse hundred, but he received too little support from the rest of the side, and despite his 107 and 34 from David Humphrey Voorburg were dismissed for 202, Wessel Coster taking four for 30.

Sparta 1888 and Quick Haag both lost, and it now seems virtually certain that one of the pair will be relegated.

Peter Borren’s eighth top-flight century was the basis of VRA Amsterdam’s total of 248 against Sparta in the Amsterdamse Bos; after opener Vikram Singh made 36, Borren and Ben Cooper (58) shared a fourth-wicket partnership of 76, and Borren was eventually last out for 108.

Joost Maarten Snoep was the most successful of Sparta’s bowlers, claiming two early wickets and coming back to pick up two more and finish with four for 70.

Andrew Fletcher and Saqlain Tasawar Iqbal gave Sparta’s reply a decent start with an opening stand of 68, but progress was slow, and after Fletcher departed for 58 only Mudassar Bukhari, who made 52, was able to make a substantial contribution.

VRA were unable to bowl their opponents out, but with Quirijn Gunning taking three for 40 the total of 198 for nine left the Capelle side exactly 50 short of VRA’s total.

It took a fighting 65 from skipper Vinoo Tewarie to enable Dosti United to reach 172 all out against Quick Haag at Sportpark Drieburg; he and Rahil Ahmed shared a half-century opening stand, but after Tewarie was dismissed only Kuldeep Diwan’s 29 saw Dosti to a defendable total.

Sumeet Diwan took three for 26, with Prathamesh Dake, Thijs van Schelven and Jay Bista claiming two wickets each.

But 172 turned out to be more than enough, as Quick were bowled out for 117, Stefan Ekelmans their top scorer with 24.

Kuldeep Diwan struck a vital blow when he had Jay Bista caught behind for just 9, and finished with three for 19, making him the Topklasse’s leading wicket-taker along with ACC’s Brady Barends with three matches to go.

Gallery | HCC vs Excelsior | 04.08.19

HCC vs Excelsior ’20 Schiedam at de Diepput – 04/08/19
scorecard | as it happened

An absorbing August awaits

Rod Lyall 25/07/19


Whatever you think about the current competition structure – and I have reservations about several aspects of it – you have to admit that this season’s Topklasse is providing the most enthralling battle at both ends of the table that we have seen for some time.

At least three sides are still in with a real chance of winning the championship, while in the lower reaches, although there are two main candidates for relegation, there are a further three who still need at least one more win to ensure that they will be playing Topklasse cricket next year.

The equations are, of course, complicated by the fact that teams have played differing numbers of games, and that the table is therefore determined by average rather than absolute points.

So Excelsior ’20 may currently be three points ahead of their nearest rivals, but since they have played one match more than HCC it’s the difference in the average points (0.12) which is the true margin.

This makes it correspondingly more difficult to calculate how much the leaders will need to do in order to be sure of taking the title, especially since in a summer like this one there’s no guarantee that more matches won’t be lost to the weather.

What we can say, however, is that if Excelsior win all four of their remaining games, they will finish with a points average of 1.71, while the best HCC can do is 1.63.

If Excelsior were to lose just one match, though, they would finish on 1.59 – and that makes the clash between the Schiedammers and HCC at De Diepput on 4 August one of the many four-pointers which are scattered through the coming weeks’ programme.

By the same token, HCC’s away match against ACC the following week is likely to be crucial as well: by winning all four of their remaining games ACC could finish on 1.53, just ahead of HCC even if they won their other three matches, but then they would need Excelsior to have lost two games if they were to become champions.

HBS Craeyenhout, despite their recent defeats, are not mathematically out of the race, but the odds are decidedly not in their favour: not only would they need to win all their remaining matches, including victories over Excelsior (11 August) and ACC (18 August), but they would need Excelsior to lose two further games, and HCC also to lose twice.

At the other end of the table, VRA Amsterdam’s four wins on the trot before their defeat by Dosti United on Sunday have thrown the relegation battle wide open, with just two wins separating current wooden-spooners Quick Haag from Voorburg, in sixth place.

The average points gap is greater than that would suggest, at 0.40, but there are so many matches between the lower sides scheduled for the run in that one is very quickly overwhelmed by possible scenarios.

To take Quick first: of their four games still to play, two are against the sides immediately above them in the table, VRA (11 August) and Sparta 1888 (18 August).

Both are therefore of huge significance if Quick are to escape the drop to the Hoofdklasse.

Sparta 1888 will also meet two of their closest rivals: VRA (4 August) and Quick (18 August), with the latter game perhaps being the one which finally decides which team is relegated.

For those immediately above Quick and Sparta, there is the comfort of knowing that it would now take a marked reversal of form by both of those teams to bring their own status into question.

Just one more win by Voorburg, VOC or VRA would mean that Sparta would have to win three out of four to have any chance of overtaking them, and since both VOC and VRA are due to play the Capelle side they do to a great extent have the outcome in their own hands.

For Quick Haag it’s an ever bigger ask: as well as Sparta, they still have to play Dosti, VRA and VOC, and even three wins would probably only bring them level on points with their rivals, and with a worse points average.

The truth is that it would take an extraordinary combination of events for anyone other than either Sparta or Quick to be relegated, and that their encounter on 18 August will likely be the four-pointer to end all four-pointers.

One thing is certain: we’re in for a more interesting (and for some nerve-wracking) August than many recent seasons have provided.

Gallery | Sparta vs ACC | 21.07.19

Sparta 1888 vs ACC at Bermweg | 21.07.17
scorecard | as it happened