Round 4 Preview

Bertus de Jong & Rod Lyall 18/05/18


BdJ: The first round of this coming Topklasse double weekend is set to kick off a tad earlier than usual at de Diepput, where HCC and Quick Haag will be getting underway an hour early to leave ample time for HCC’s 140-year Jubilee celebrations in the evening. Quick will be looking to spoil the party, but with the Hanen in a dreadful rut of form it would certainly be an upset. Quick’s batting has looked fragile all season and only their only points so far have come from a surprise win against an undercooked VRA side in the season opener. Overseas signings Jay Bista and Sean Davey have not really taken to Dutch conditions so far, and a Quick side in the midst of rebuilding will need them to come good quickly if they are to stay afloat.

Their hosts meanwhile will be full of confidence, coming off the back of their Ali Ahmed-inspired demolition of HBS last week. HCC’s own new signing, Australian Bryce Street, seems to have adjusted rather more quickly, hitting his maiden Topklasse fifty last week as well as lending some variety to the pace attack. With Ryan Ninan pairing Ahmed in the spin section HCC have the look of a balanced team, though the batting still looks rather brittle without Jonathan Vandiar to underpin it. Nonetheless Quick this season have not looked the side to take advantage.

RL: After a slow start HCC suddenly found another gear against HBS on Sunday, although they have some way to go before they can be seen as one of the stronger teams in the competition. The batting does, indeed, lack real conviction, but there is little evidence that Quick are in a position to cause them major problems. The Nieuw Hanenburg outfit were never in the game against VOC last week, and the bowling looked, if anything, even more dispirited than the batting.


BdJ: Meanwhile defending Champions Excelsior ‘20 will welcome the widely-tipped VOC Rotterdam to Thurlede looking to extend their latest unbeaten run. VOC have recovered from an upset opening defeat away at Dosti to win their next two games convincingly, but have yet to fully live up to the pre-season hype. Of their batch of eye-catching new signings only keeper-bat Scott Edwards has really delivered thus far, and they will be without skipper first-choice spinner Pieter Seelaar when they head to Schiedam due to bereavement, young Seb van Lent returning to the side in his place.

Nonetheless the Rotterdammers pose a serious threat to Excelsior’s nascent streak, with Ahsan Malik and Fred Klaassen as capable of taking advantage of Thurlede’s occasionally two-speed pitch as the host’s own disciplined young seamers. Early wickets will likely be key one way or the other, with limited batting depth the key weakness of both sides. James Hilditch’s especially will be the scalp VOC will be looking for, together with that of the evergreen Lorenzo Ingram, whilst the hosts will want to see Edwards and Corey Rutgers back in the pavilion as soon as possible.

RL: This should be the game of the round, with Excelsior’s established, twice-champion outfit taking on a VOC side which, as m’ colleague points out, has yet to deliver its full potential. But the VOC attack was in complete command against a disappointing Quick side, and even without Pieter Seelaar they have the variety to test Tom Heggelman’s team.


BdJ: Also unbeaten thus far, to the surprise of many, are the perhaps rather underrated Dosti-United, who will meet Amsterdam rivals ACC at het Loopveld on Saturday. The Dosti middle order of Mohammad Hafeez, new overseas Anees Davids and especially Taruwar Kohli have proved the backbone of their success thus far, whilst sometime national team prospect Rahil Ahmed seems to have recaptured some of his old confidence.

ACC meanwhile remain thankful that the unduly less-celebrated Rehmat Zulfiqar was blessed with three younger brothers at once, the four Zulfiqars and their semi-retired father still providing the backbone of the batting order. New overseas keeper Richardt Frenz has yet to make a significant impact for his side, having missed one of their three matches due to illness, but with his return the visitors arguably have the advantage in batting depth. That aside there’s really little to pick between the two Amsterdam sides, though on current form probably Dosti have momentum on their side.

RL: ACC and Dosti have provided some memorable encounters in recent years, and this one should be no exception. In a crowded table matches like this acquire extra significance, and with Kohli in supreme form with the bat – and capable of chipping in with the ball as well – Dosti have fully deserved their excellent start to the campaign. If they are to maintain their challenge to Excelsior, and others’, title hopes, and having lost the chance to take a two-point advantage at the top last week, they will be especially keen to maintain the momentum at Het Loopveld.


BdJ: Fellow Amsterdammers VRA have been rather underwhelming thus far, an intimidating middle order line up of Ben Cooper, Eric Szwarczynski and Peter Borren having misfired in the early rounds, but they remain odds-on to take two points back from Bermweg when they take on Sparta on Saturday.

Nonetheless Sparta have thus far performed creditably on their return to the Topklasse with two wins from three games, and with Tim de Kok in fine form and new overseas Michael Pollard looking sound pick the absence of last season’s stalwarts Riaan Jeggels and Warren Bell has not proved too costly. Dost Mohammad has grown into his role as new-ball partner to former Netherlands international Mudassar Bukhari, and at full strength the Capelle side will be no pushovers. VRA will need to shake off the early-season cobwebs if they are to avoid the stumbling start that cost them so dearly last season.

RL: Sparta’s assiduously assembled team has made a good start to the campaign, even without Jeggels and Bell, and were decidedly too strong for Punjab last week. Although Pollard has had less impact with the bat than his first-day knock suggested, he is too good a player to struggle for long, and his contribution will be needed if the Bermweg side is to hold its own against a VRA team which is capable, on its day, of beating anyone in the competition. The same applies in reverse to VRA’s international batting line-up, and on current evidence I would be inclined to tip a narrow Sparta victory here.


BdJ: HBS will look to bounce back from their disastrous outing at de Diepput last week when they take on Punjab Rotterdam at Craeyenhout, thought the vulnerability to the moving ball that Ali Ahmed exposed in their top order will doubtless give their opponents hope of taking two points back to Rotterdam. The big question of course remains whether they will awarded any points regardless of what happens on the field, should they indeed persist with the selection of Belgian nationals Ali Raza and Mamoon Latif, whom the KNCB have deemed ineligible as local players.

Punjab have indicated that the two will continue to play until the dispute is resolved, and the board have made clear that every in which match they appear will be awarded to the opposition. Even with Raza and Latif the Rotterdammers head to the Hague as underdogs, but there’s every chance that with them they will be earning only penalty points on Saturday.

RL: HBS and Punjab were both surprise packets last season, but the Kraaien have been less convincing so far this time round, while the eligibility dispute which hangs over Punjab makes any prediction difficult. Punjab do have a well-balanced side, whatever its legitimacy, and the departure of Corey Rutgers to VOC has removed some solidity from the HBS top order. Barresi and Visée have the ability to take any attack apart, but they have yet to maintain the fireworks for very long. If they, and Jaron Morgan, don’t pile on the runs on Saturday Punjab may prevail, but as m’ colleague points out, any victory may prove to be Pyrrhic.


BdJ’s Round 4 tips: HCC, VOC, Dosti, VRA, HBS
RL’s Round 4 tips: HCC, Excelsior, Dosti, Sparta, HBS

VRA and HCC post first victories, but rain the only winner at Drieburg

Rod Lyall 14/05/18


The top-of-the-table clash between Dosti United and Excelsior ’20 fell victim to the weather on Sunday, but not before Dosti’s Taruwar Kohli had posted his second century in succession at Sportpark Drieburg.

Kohli’s sixth-wicket stand of 128 with fellow-overseas player Anees Davids put the home side in a strong position when the light drizzle finally turned to serious rain and put an end to proceedings, with Dosti on 213 for eight.

Kohli made exactly 100, from 135 deliveries with nine fours and two sixes, before edging Gijs Kroesen through to keeper Roel Verhagen, while Davids, the more aggressive of the pair once he had settled, contributed a 48-ball 66 which included five fours and four sixes.

Kroesen and Rens van Troost claimed a brace of wickets apiece, but after a promising start the Excelsior attack was made to toil in the inclement conditions by two of the most accomplished batsmen in the competition.

The other match rescheduled to Sunday was unaffected by the weather, and reached a speedy conclusion: HCC’s Ali Ahmed Qasim was in supreme form with the ball, achieving career-best figures of eight for 36 as hosts HBS were shot out for 112, after reaching 30 without loss, at Craeyenhout. Wesley Barresi top-scored with 40.

HCC took just 21.3 overs to knock off the runs, with opener Bryce Street making an unbeaten 53 and sharing a second-wicket stand of 60 with Tonny Staal (33).

On Saturday, VOC Rotterdam began to fire in earnest as they hammered a disappointing Quick Haag side by 10 wickets at Hazelaarweg.

Pierce Fletcher quickly reduced the visitors to 8 for three after stand-in captain Thijs van Schelven elected to bat first, and they were eventually dismissed for 63, only Geert Maarten Mol showing any real resistance with a dogged 16.

Pieter Seelaar completed the rout, taking four for 8 in 9.5 overs of left-arm spin, and then Scott Edwards and Corey Rutgers were untroubled in reaching their target in just 8.2 overs, with Edwards striking five fours in his 33-ball 38 not out.

VOC
VOC tighten the noose

In the Amsterdamse Bos, VRA Amsterdam recorded their first win of the season by beating local rivals ACC in a hard-fought game.

The foundation of VRA’s total of 235 for eight was an unbeated 113 from opener Daan ter Braak, who batted throughout the innings and shared a second-wicket partnership of 76 with Ben Cooper (43). The middle order failed again, but a handy seventh-wicket stand of 64 between Ter Braak and Quirijn Gunning (20) enabled the home side to set a challenging total.

Anis Raza was the most successful of the ACC bowlers with four for 41, which Dewald Botha and Saqib Zulfiqar picked up two wickets each.

ACC’s wicketkeeper-batsman Richardt Frenz led the chase with 63, supported by Saqib Zulfiqar and Shirase Rasool, both of whom made 39, but VRA kept things tight, spinners Adeel Raja and Leon Turmaine in particular maintaining the pressure, and the asking rate steadily rose.

When Turmaine had Frenz caught by Vikram Singh as he attempted to force the pace the total was 181 for six and there were only four overs left with 51 still needed.

This was clearly an impossible ask, and the ACC innings closed on 210 for seven, Turmaine finishing with three for 44 and Raja two for 34.

After faltering against HBS on Thursday Sparta 1888 returned to winning ways at Het Zomercomplex, beating Punjab Rotterdam by 80 runs.

Sparta owed their total of 222 for eight to a fourth-wicket partnership of 118 between Tim de Kok (62) and Mudassar Bukhari (58), with Atse Buurman contributing a rapid 21 and Joost Martijn Snoep 29 not out in the closing stages.

Punjab’s new-ball bowlers, Suleiman Tariq and Assad Saleemi, took three for 35 and three for 29 respectively.

In dispute with the KNCB Board over the selection of foreign players – an issue which seems to have cost them the two points they earned by beating ACC on Thursday – Punjab could not mount a serious challenge to Sparta’s score, and were dismissed for 142.

Ahsan Masood made 32 and Barend Vorster 37, but with seamer Dost Muhammed taking four for 40 and Max Hoornweg, on his Topklasse debut, claiming four for 30, it was Sparta who came out on top, retaining their place in the top half of the table.

With VRA and HCC both winning for the first time at the weekend, the Topklasse competition looks remarkably open, although the double round of matches next week (thanks to the Pentecost holiday Monday) may resolve matters to some degree.

And of course, the final outcome of the simmering – but as yet unexplained – Punjab dispute seems likely to have a significant influence on the development of the competition.

Scorecard | Dosti vs Excelsior | 13.05.18

Dosti United I Vs Excelsior 20 I
1-Innings Match Played At Sportpark Drieburg, 13-May-2018, Topklasse
No result
Round 3
Toss won by Excelsior 20 I
Umpires HM Butt – P Muthucumaru
Scorers R Seetal – EM Heggelman
Home Side Dosti United I
Dosti United I 1st Innings 213/8 (Overs 47.2)
Batsman Fieldsman Bowler Runs Bls 4s 6s
VAB Tewarie* c RTF Verhagen b JR Hilditch 6 6 1 0
RI Ahmed+ c J Kroesen b RWA van Troost 0 8 0 0
TS Kohli c RTF Verhagen b GG Kroesen 100 135 9 2
M Hafeez lbw b RWA van Troost 11 36 2 0
Vimal Tewarie lbw b S Bhatti 17 47 1 0
S Ghori run out JR Hilditch 0 1 0 0
A Davids b GG Kroesen 66 48 5 4
W Masood not out 2 3 0 0
M Hans b TJ Heggelman 0 1 0 0
Asief Hoseinbaks not out 0 0 0 0
Arief Hoseinbaks dnb
extras (b0 lb1 w10 nb0) 11
TOTAL 8 wickets for 213
FOW
1-6(VAB Tewarie) 2-9(RI Ahmed) 3-33(M Hafeez) 4-75(Vimal Tewarie) 5-75(S Ghori) 6-203(TS Kohli) 7-212(A Davids) 8-213(M Hans)
Bowler Overs Maid Runs Wkts wd nb
JR Hilditch 10 2 16 1
RWA van Troost 10 0 31 2 5
TJ Heggelman 5.2 0 24 1
S Bhatti 8 1 44 1 1
GG Kroesen 7 1 48 2
LT Ingram 4 0 21 0
SG Shankar 3 0 28 0
Excelsior 20 I 1st Innings
Batsman Fieldsman Bowler Runs Bls 4s 6s
TC Etman dnb
RTF Verhagen+ dnb
SG Shankar dnb
LT Ingram dnb
JR Hilditch dnb
J Kroesen dnb
TJ Heggelman* dnb
DA Woutersen dnb
RWA van Troost dnb
GG Kroesen dnb
S Bhatti dnb
extras (b0 lb0 w0 nb0) 0
TOTAL 0 wickets for 0
FOW
Bowler Overs Maid Runs Wkts wd nb

Another split weekend, and a clear leader in prospect

Rod Lyall 11/5/18


The mildly sadistic master who was in charge of cross-country running at my secondary school used to claim that his task as a handicapper was to ensure that everyone crossed the line at the same moment.

He never achieved this, of course, but it’s beginning to look as if the self-regulating recruitment and transfer process which has operated in the Topklasse over the winter might just produce such a result, with all ten teams on 18 points at the end of August.

Two sides emerged from the second round of matches on Thursday with a brace of wins, but after an excellent start Excelsior ‘20 had to work hard to overcome the resistance of VRA Amsterdam, and it’s only Dosti United who have twice been really convincing winners. Intriguingly, these two sides will meet at Dosti’s Drieburg ground on Saturday.

Dosti, who could thank a fine double from Mohammad Hafeez – including five for 13, his best-ever figures in the top division – for their convincing victory over Quick Haag, will have every reason to relish this encounter, while Excelsior, after reducing VRA to 79 for eight on Thursday, saw their visitors recover to 176, George Dunlop contributing a career-best 57 and sharing a ninth-wicket stand of 82 with veteran former international Adeel Raja.

It was, moreover, only due to a fighting knock of 62 not out by James Hilditch that the Thurlede side squeezed home with a three-wicket margin and 11 balls to spare, and Tom Heggelman will be conscious that his side has yet to hit top gear in its attempt to win a third successive title.

45-Hilditch-playsfrom-the-b
James Hilditch

Quick, bowled out for 71 by Dosti as they chased 209, only openers Jay Bista and Lesley Stokkers reaching double figures, came down to earth with a bump after their first-day victory over VRA, and they will visit VOC Rotterdam on Saturday determined to regain some momentum.

But it is the opposite story for the Rotterdammers: having suffered a disappointing defeat at the hands of Dosti last weekend, they bounced back with a vengeance against HCC on Thursday, dismissing the Hagenaars for 127 with an excellent all-round bowling performance.

Their own total of 206 for nine owed a huge amount to Dutch international keeper Scott Edwards, who batted throughout the innings for his 153-ball 90, including just three fours and a six, and a good deal to his partnership with Pieter Seelaar, who made a rather brisker 53 in a fourth-wicket stand of 91.

HCC now find themselves at the foot of the table, and will face difficult opponents this Sunday in the form of HBS Den Haag, whose demolition of Sparta 1888 secured them a position in the top half of a very crowded table.

Disappointing as their total of 160 may have been, Wesley Barresi and Tobias Visée again falling in single figures and Jaron Morgan top-scoring with 36, HBS made it seem like a decent score when they shot the Capelle side out for 61, seamer Berend Westdijk claiming four for 30.

This defeat put Sparta’s win over HCC into a different perspective, and they will be very keen to add Riaan Jeggels and Warren Bell to their strength at the earliest opportunity. They are clearly a workmanlike side, but it looks as if they may need every point they can muster as the season unfolds.

They, too, will face a tricky third game on Saturday, when they play Punjab Rotterdam at Het Zomercomplex. Punjab were in rampant form against ACC on Thursday, with Stef Myburgh (101 not out) and Ali Raza (73) ripping the Amsterdammers’ attack apart with an opening stand of 163 in just 22 overs.

The advent of legspinner Bernard Vorster gives the Punjab attack another dimension too, and while it may not be the most dangerous in the competition, the bowlers did well to restrict ACC to 204 for six, a total which the batsmen then passed with more than 17 overs to spare.

For ACC, who were admittedly weakened by the absence through illness of Richardt Frenz, this will have been something of a wake-up call, the innings of Rehmat (30), Saqib (45) and Sikander Zulfiqar (67 not out) again confirming just how vital the fortunes of the brothers are, not forgetting the contribution of father Ahmed (29), standing in for Frenz.

Saturday will see ACC make the short journey across Amstelveen to take on the enigmatic VRA, who share with HCC the indignity of being winless after two matches.

Their blushes rescued to a degree by the resistance of Dunlop and Raja, and by another fighting effort with the ball, the VRA top order again failed to live up to their reputation and their potential, and Emile van den Burg’s men will need to regroup quickly if they are to avoid losing contact with the leaders, one of whom will be on six points by Sunday evening.


One the first week, two on Thursday – can I make it three this weekend with the following picks?
Dosti, VOC, HBS, Punjab, VRA.

Scorecard | Excelsior vs VRA | 10.05.18

Excelsior 20 I Vs VRA I
1-Innings Match Played At Thurlede, Schiedam, 10-May-2018, Topklasse
Excelsior 20 I Win by 3 wkts
Round 2
Toss won by VRA I
Umpires Ali Mohammed – JPAW Molenaar
Scorers EM Heggelman – T Jansen Schoonhov
Home Side Excelsior 20 I
Points Awarded VRA I 0, Excelsior 20 I 2
VRA I 1st Innings 176/10 All Out (Overs 50)
Batsman Fieldsman Bowler Runs Bls 4s 6s
V Singh run out RWA van Troost 21 27 3 0
DJ ter Braak c RTF Verhagen b TJ Heggelman 8 21 1 0
BN Cooper c RTF Verhagen b TJ Heggelman 11 12 2 0
ES Szwarczynski+ lbw b S Bhatti 0 2 0 0
PW Borren c RWA van Troost b TJ Heggelman 5 8 1 0
E van den Burg* b S Bhatti 1 4 0 0
LA Turmaine run out DA Woutersen 10 38 1 0
QWM Gunning b LT Ingram 15 53 1 0
MAK Raja st RTF Verhagen b LT Ingram 28 69 1 0
MG Dunlop run out RTF Verhagen 57 67 5 2
VJ Kingma not out 2 6 0 0
extras (b0 lb4 w7 nb7) 18
TOTAL 10 wickets for 176
FOW
1-27(V Singh) 2-39(BN Cooper) 3-40(ES Szwarczynski) 4-47(PW Borren) 5-47(DJ ter Braak) 6-50(E van den Burg) 7-79(LA Turmaine) 8-79(QWM Gunning) 9-161(MAK Raja) 10-176(MG Dunlop)
Bowler Overs Maid Runs Wkts wd nb
JR Hilditch 10 1 28 0 3
RWA van Troost 5 0 25 0 2
TJ Heggelman 7 0 23 3 3
S Bhatti 10 1 31 2 1
LT Ingram 9 2 26 2
GG Kroesen 7 1 33 0 1 4
SG Shankar 2 1 6 0
Excelsior 20 I 1st Innings 177/7 (Overs 48.1)
Batsman Fieldsman Bowler Runs Bls 4s 6s
TC Etman c ES Szwarczynski b PW Borren 21 34 1 1
RTF Verhagen+ c ES Szwarczynski b VJ Kingma 0 8 0 0
SG Shankar run out MG Dunlop 6 10 1 0
LT Ingram c E van den Burg b MAK Raja 25 59 0 1
JR Hilditch not out 62 103 3 0
J Kroesen c E van den Burg b MG Dunlop 12 22 1 0
TJ Heggelman* lbw b PW Borren 13 23 0 0
DA Woutersen c&b LA Turmaine 4 13 0 0
GG Kroesen not out 9 18 0 0
RWA van Troost dnb
S Bhatti dnb
extras (b0 lb0 w24 nb1) 25
TOTAL 7 wickets for 177
FOW
1-5(RTF Verhagen) 2-19(SG Shankar) 3-38(TC Etman) 4-79(LT Ingram) 5-103(J Kroesen) 6-132(TJ Heggelman) 7-142(DA Woutersen)
Bowler Overs Maid Runs Wkts wd nb
VJ Kingma 9.1 1 29 1 4
QWM Gunning 9 2 42 0 2 1
DJ ter Braak 3 0 18 0 1
PW Borren 10 1 22 2 1
MAK Raja 10 0 31 1 2
MG Dunlop 4 0 23 1 6
LA Turmaine 3 0 12 1 1

Ascension Day programme gives Topklasse an early lift

Rod Lyall 09/05/18


The traditional Ascension Day fixtures on Thursday feature a clash between two of last weekend’s surprise winners, Quick Haag and Dosti United Amsterdam, at the former’s Nieuw Hanenburg ground.

It also brings into direct confrontation two of the overseas players, both Indian, who made the greatest impression in the opening round: Dosti’s Taruwar Kohli (Punjab), whose chanceless 115 not out was the first century of the new Topklasse season, and Quick’s Jay Bista (Mumbai), who took three for 23 on debut in his side’s three-wicket victory over VRA Amsterdam.

Bista’s arrival at Nieuw Hanenburg, along with New Zealander Sean Davey, looks to have compensated Quick to some degree for their loss of international opener Wesley Barresi and the long-serving Henk-Jan Mol, while Dosti, thanks to the batting of Kohli, Rahil Ahmed and Mohammad Hafeez, were never really stretched in their 81-run win against VOC Rotterdam.

Thursday’s contest will give us a clearer perspective on the relative strengths of both these sides, one of whom will be guaranteed at least a share of the early running in the Topklasse’s packed May programme.


Sparta 1888 also made a promising start to their campaign, and what was particularly encouraging about their six-wicket victory over HCC was the way in which, even without Riaan Jeggels and Warren Bell, they fought back after their visitors had established a firm initial platform.

The Capelle side have a well-balanced attack, led by Mudassar Bukhari and Dost Muhammed, backed up by the seam of Usman Saleem and skipper Joost Martijn Snoep as well as Faisal Iqbal’s spin, and in Michael Pollard they have an overseas player who seems well equipped to score plenty of runs in the middle order.

They will again have home advantage on Thursday, when they take on HBS Den Haag at Sportpark Bermweg.

HBS’s powerful batting lineup failed to fire against ACC on Saturday, only Sharn Gomes coming good as his side chased a target of 234, and they will need two or more of Wesley Barresi, Tobias Visée, Navjit Singh and Jaron Morgan to give him greater support if they are to recover from that setback.

The clash between Barresi and Visée on the one hand and Bukhari and Dost Muhammed on the other could well be one of the highlights of what looks like an intriguing encounter.


HCC’s decline on Saturday from a potentially winning position will have given Mark Jonkman’s side cause for serious reflection, and it is already clear that the Diepput outfit will be missing the resilience of leading run-scorer Jonathan Vandiar.

He dug them out of some difficult situations in recent seasons, stiffening a middle order which looked all too vulnerable against Sparta, and that absence will throw even greater weight upon the top three, Bryce Street, Tonny Staal and Boris Gorlee, while Ryan Ninan and Hidde Overdijk will also have a crucial role if HCC are to set – or chase – decent totals.

They will have their first chance to rectify matters at De Diepput on Thursday, when they entertain VOC Rotterdam, who were also disappointing in going down to Dosti United last Sunday.

One of the strongest sides in the competition on paper, a VOC attack which includes internationals Fred Klaassen, Ahsan Malik Jamil and Pieter Seelaar, as well as seamers Pierce Fletcher and Bobby Hanif and spinner Umar Baker, was able to make little impression on the Dosti top order, while the batsmen struggled against a disciplined opposing attack.

It can only be a matter of time before VOC realise their very considerable potential, but Dosti did enough on Sunday to show they cannot be taken lightly.

Another of the sides which underperformed on the opening day, VRA Amsterdam, travel to Schiedam to take on Excelsior ‘20, who once again took up the battle where they had left off last season.

The defending champions looked as strong as ever as they cruised to an eight-wicket victory over Punjab Rotterdam, with Lorenzo Ingram and James Hilditch again leading from the front, and VRA will need to raise their game considerably if they are to trouble their hosts.


Early-season rustiness can scarcely explain a VRA side which includes Ben Cooper, Eric Szwarczynski and Peter Borren, as well as openers Vikram Singh and Daan ter Braak, being bowled out for 124, and although the bowlers did well to keep their team in the game, a much more disciplined effort will be needed against Excelsior.

The Schiedammers are, of course, a much more experienced outfit than they were in their first championship season two years ago, and they seem virtually certain to be at the heart of the title race. That said, VRA are perfectly capable of bouncing back fast, and their potentially explosive batting and very considerable bowling resources are both strong enough to give Excelsior a serious run for their money.


At Het Loopveld West ACC, the fifth of last weekend’s winners, will be at home to Punjab, and looking to build on that opening victory over HBS.

The Rotterdammers remain something of an unknown quantity, and all the more so because they had to begin their campaign against as formidable opponents as Excelsior. But they did enough, especially with the bat, to indicate that last year’s mid-table position wasn’t a flash in the pan, and they will travel to Amstelveen hopeful of causing problems for an ACC side which remains far too dependent upon the Zulfiqar brothers and their overseas players.

But the Zulfiqars looked to be in great early-season form last weekend, and unless Punjab can find a way of neutralizing that threat a home win looks to be on the cards.


Rod Lyall’s I’m-not-sure-why-I-do-this predictions:
Quick, Sparta, VOC, Excelsior, ACC.

Surprises galore as the Topklasse gets under way

Rod Lyall 07/05/18


The glorious unpredictability of cricket was fully in evidence on a sun-drenched opening weekend of the Topklasse season, as sides which had often been remoulded over the winter battled for early advantage.

The one constant was a first-day win for defending champions Excelsior ’20, who cruised to an eight-wicket victory over Punjab Rotterdam at Het Zomercomplex. The home side did well to reach 231, recovering from 147 for seven after Stef Myburgh had got them off to a quickfire start with a 30-ball 35 which included four fours and two sixes.

Thereafter Excelsior’s bowlers worked their way through Punjab’s batting, until Assad Saleemi and Mohammad Latif turned things round with an eighth-wicket stand of 80, 58 of them coming from Latif, who hit four sixes in an aggressive 54-ball innings.

But the champions were untroubled in chasing down this target, Tim Etman and Roel Verhagen getting them off to a strong start with an opening stand of 82, and Etman going on to make 62 before he was the second to depart with the score on 115.

James Hilditch now joined Lorenzo Ingram at the crease, and the two overseas players added 117 in an unbroken third-wicket partnership, Ingram just missing out on his century with an undefeated, 108-ball 95, including seven fours and five sixes, while Hilditch contributed a steady 39.

Early speculation about who Excelsior’s main rivals might be was thrown into confusion elsewhere, not least in the Amsterdamse Bos, where VRA were bundled out for 124 by Quick Haag in just 39.2 overs.

Only Ben Cooper (51) was able to make a significant contribution, with skipper Emile van den Burg and last man Viv Kingma the only others to reach double figures. Newly-arrived overseas player Jay Bista and left-arm spinner Thijs van Schelven picked up three wickets apiece, for 23 and 12 runs respectively.

Quick made heavy weather of their reply, as VRA’s international new-ball pairing of Quirijn Gunning (two for 30) and Viv Kingma (three for 28) claimed five wickets between them, Sean Davey leading the way for the Hanen with 39. When Davey departed the total was 86 for five, and VRA fought hard all the way. But Stefan Ekelmans and Mart Spruit were able to see their side home to a tense two-wicket win.

Sportpark Bermweg
Topklasse cricket comes to Bermweg

Sparta 1888, on their return to the top flight, may have been without two key players in Riaan Jeggels and Warren Bell, but they nevertheless proved too strong for HCC at Sportpark Bermweg, fighting back convincingly after the visitors, after electing to bat, had reached 111 for one at 30 overs.

The base for this platform was built in an opening stand of 75 between Bryce Street and Tonny Staal, and after the latter departed, bowled by Joost Martijn Snoep for 39, Street and Boris Gorlee continued to bat with concentration and discipline. Two moments of poor judgement undid the good work, however: first Street, on 45, ran himself our looking for an impossible single, and then Gorlee, who had made 35, tried to hit Usman Saleem over the top and was caught at mid-on.

That swung the game Sparta’s way, and HCC could only reach 176 for nine in their remaining overs. Seamers Mudassar Bukhari, Dost Muhammed and Usman Saleem all bowled well at the back end, ensuring that the target was a more modest one than had seemed likely earlier in the day.

HCC fought hard when Sparta replied, and with Ali Ahmed Qasim the pick of the bowlers they did their best to contain the home side’s batsmen. But it was wickets they needed, and an uncharacteristically quiet innings of 23 from Bukhari and a solid 45 from Tim de Kok ensured that Sparta stayed in touch with their target.

It was New Zealander Michael Pollard, however, who took the game away from the Hagenaars, unleashing some splendid cover drives in an undefeated knock of 55 and sharing in a valuable fourth-wicket partnership of 52 with Faisal Iqbal, and Sparta secured their six-wicket victory with almost four overs to spare.

At Craeyenhout, ACC were once again greatly indebted to the Zulfiqar family for their 18-run win against HBS. Skipper Saqib and triplet brother Sikander each made 51 and elder brother Rehmet contributed 37, Ali Raza chipping in with 31 not out as the Amsterdammers reached 233 for eight.

It might have been more but for three run-outs, while of the HBS bowlers Wesley Barresi was the most successful with two for 34.

233 is not a massive total on the artificial outfield at Craeyenhout, but ACC’s defence of it was led by young Aryan Kumar, who removed both the dangerous HBS openers, Barresi and skipper Tobias Visée by the time 32 runs were on the board.

Sharn Gomes again proved his value to his side by making 64 at almost a run a ball, but with Sikander Zulfiqar taking three for 20 and Kumar claiming another to finish with three for 47, it was ACC who ultimately prevailed. Rehmet Zulfiqar’s dismissal of Gomes with 38 still needed, only three wickets remaining at that point, was the decisive moment, and HBS finished 19 short of their target.

A remodelled VOC Rotterdam are another of the fancied sides in this season’s Topklasse, but they encountered Dosti United’s Taruwar Kohli in supreme form when they made the trip to Sportpark Drieburg on Sunday.

The Indian batsman made a chanceless unbeaten 115 in his side’s total of 246 for three, coming from 133 balls with ten fours and a six, and he was ably assisted by Rahil Ahmed, whose 70 contributed to a second-wicket stand of 142 after VOC skipper Pieter Seelaar had won the toss and put the home side in.

It was always going to be a formidable task, and although Corey Rutgers got his new side off to a decent start with 41, VOC were never really on top. Seelaar (36) and Ahsan Malik Jamil (27) kept them in the hunt with a dogged fifth-wicket stand of 70 against a disciplined Dosti, but the asking rate continued to grow, and when Seelaar holed out on the midwicket boundary trying to create some much-needed momentum it started an avalanche of wickets.

Five wickets fell in the space of ten deliveries without the addition of a run, and despite some late resistance from Bobby Hanif and Pierce Fletcher, the innings closed on 165, giving Dosti aa 81-run victory. Mohammad Hafeez finished with four for 29, while Kohli capped a memorable day with three for 11.

The campaign will resume on Thursday, with a full round of matches on the Ascension Day holiday.

Scorecard | Punjab vs Excelsior | 05.05.18

Punjab I Vs Excelsior 20 I
1-Innings Match Played At Zomercomplex, Rotterdam, 05-May-2018, Topklasse
Excelsior 20 I Win by 8 wkts
Round 1
Toss won by Excelsior 20 I
Umpires AND van den Dries – DJ Kalloe
Scorers EM Heggelman – N Mohammed
Home Side Punjab I
Points Awarded Punjab I 0, Excelsior 20 I 2
Punjab I 1st Innings 231/10 All Out (Overs 49.1)
Batsman Fieldsman Bowler Runs Bls 4s 6s
SJ Myburgh c GG Kroesen b TJ Heggelman 35 30 4 2
A Raza c RTF Verhagen b JR Hilditch 10 9 1 0
A Khan c LT Ingram b S Bhatti 33 41 4 1
A Masood c RWA van Troost b LT Ingram 9 30 1 0
BI Vorster c SG Shankar b GG Kroesen 20 39 2 0
AK Bamunusinghe c TJ Heggelman b LT Ingram 2 8 0 0
MA Saleemi run out DA Woutersen 37 73 3 0
Y Usman lbw b SG Shankar 10 6 2 0
M Latif run out J Kroesen 58 54 4 4
S Tariq* run out GG Kroesen 2 6 0 0
M Bajwa+ not out 0 0 0 0
extras (b5 lb1 w8 nb1) 15
TOTAL 10 wickets for 231
FOW
1-15(A Raza) 2-59(SJ Myburgh) 3-91(A Khan) 4-92(A Masood) 5-96(AK Bamunusinghe) 6-125(BI Vorster) 7-147(Y Usman) 8-227(MA Saleemi) 9-228(M Latif) 10-231(S Tariq)
Bowler Overs Maid Runs Wkts wd nb
JR Hilditch 10 0 41 1 1
RWA van Troost 4 0 34 0
TJ Heggelman 5 1 25 1
S Bhatti 9 1 49 1 3
LT Ingram 10 1 24 2
GG Kroesen 3.1 0 19 1
SG Shankar 8 0 33 1 5
Excelsior 20 I 1st Innings 232/2 (Overs 46.2)
Batsman Fieldsman Bowler Runs Bls 4s 6s
TC Etman c sub b AK Bamunusinghe 62 70 6 3
RTF Verhagen+ c A Raza b BI Vorster 29 34 4 1
LT Ingram not out 95 106 7 5
JR Hilditch not out 39 68 4 0
SG Shankar dnb
J Kroesen dnb
TJ Heggelman* dnb
DA Woutersen dnb
RWA van Troost dnb
GG Kroesen dnb
S Bhatti dnb
extras (b0 lb4 w3 nb0) 7
TOTAL 2 wickets for 232
FOW
1-82(RTF Verhagen) 2-115(TC Etman)
Bowler Overs Maid Runs Wkts wd nb
S Tariq 9.2 0 57 0
A Khan 2 1 7 0 1
MA Saleemi 6 0 38 0 1
A Masood 10 1 34 0
BI Vorster 10 0 45 1
AK Bamunusinghe 8 1 31 1
M Latif 1 0 16 0 1

Round 1 Preview

Rod Lyall 04/05/18


A year ago, Rotterdam’s Zomercomplex became the Topklasse’s newest venue when Punjab made their debut in the top flight with a notable win over Quick Haag. This time last season’s newcomers again start at home, but against defending champions Excelsior ‘20, who will be setting out on their quest to become the first side since VRA in 2005-07 to win three national titles in a row, a feat which the Schiedammers themselves achieved a decade earlier.

This match will have added piquancy because Excelsior will feature seamer Haider Khan, who returns to his old club after a spell with Punjab, while the home side will include Dutch international opener Stef Myburgh, who had two seasons at Thurlede before moving to Schiedam neighbours Hermes-DVS, whence he has now landed at the Zomercomplex.

Punjab will be hoping that Belgian international allrounder Ali Raza and 20-year-old South African Bernard Vorster are able to fill the gaps left by Shoaib Minhaas and Khurram Shazad, and that the amateur members of what proved a workmanlike and resilient side last season are able to rise to the occasion against a stable, increasingly experienced Excelsior outfit.

With Lorenzo Ingram and James Hilditch once again at the heart of Tom Heggelman’s side, and Gijs Kroesen back from a successful grade season in Perth, Excelsior will start as clear favourites, but the opening of a Topklasse campaign always throws up a surprise or two, and the Schiedammers would be happy and relieved to head home with their first points tomorrow evening.


This year’s new venue is Het Schollebos in Capelle aan den IJssel (a.k.a. Sportpark Bermweg), where promoted Sparta 1888 will host HCC at the ground they have developed in the years since their last, brief sojourn in the top flight.

Successful as they were in the Hoofdklasse, Sparta’s overseas players Riaan Jeggels, Warren Bell and Craig Ambrose will need to adjust quickly to the tougher demands of the Topklasse, and a HCC lineup which includes new player-coach Bryce Street and the returning Ryan Ninan alongside a healthy mix of experienced and developing home-produced players will constitute a stiff test.

Mudassar Bukhari will doubtless relish his return to the highest division, and he can be expected to use all his experience against the Hagenaars. HCC’s ability to deal with him, and that of the Sparta batting to cope with a varied HCC attack, spearheaded by Mark Jonkman and Reinier Bijloos, may well be the keys to what promises to be an intriguing encounter.


On paper at least, VRA Amsterdam look to be one of the main challengers to Excelsior’s hegemony, and they will have an early test of their mettle when they take on traditional rivals Quick Haag in the Amsterdamse Bos. It will be interesting to see how quickly and effectively international Viv Kingma takes over the new-ball role from the departed Fred Klaassen, and how well Daan ter Braak fits into an already-strong batting lineup.

For Quick, overseas players Jay Bista and Sean Davey will need to settle in as rapidly as possible to get the season away to a solid start, especially with Wesley Barresi and Henk-Jan Mol no longer in the side. But man for man, new VRA skipper Emile van den Burg looks to have a more accomplished side, with deep batting – the top six have 20 centuries in the top division to their credit – and a well-balanced attack, and a home win looks to be on the cards.


HBS Den Haag had a significant impact last year on their return to the Topklasse, and they will be aiming to build on that platform when they entertain ACC at Craeyenhout.

With Australian player-coach Jaron Morgan – one of three batsmen to pass 1000 runs last season – joined by left-arm spinner Sharn Gomes, and the top order reinforced by the arrival of Wesley Barresi, the Kraaien are another side capable of putting in a convincing title challenge, and will hope to exploit the advantage of their artificial outfield against an ACC side which often struggled last year.

In the constant battle to find new ways of saying that the Amsterdammers are worrying dependent on the brothers Zulfiqar, perhaps it is sufficient to remark that much may hinge on the contribution of their new overseas players Richardt Frenz and Devon Botha. But in the longer term it is the emergence of one or more of the crop of ACC youngsters which will determine whether the Loopveld club is able to emulate Excelsior’s achievement in building a young side into a winning combination.


Another of last year’s struggling sides, Dosti United will start at Sportpark Drieburg against another of the potential title challengers, VOC Rotterdam, although because of field availability issues this match will be played on Sunday.

With five current or recent Dutch internationals in their squad and national skipper Pieter Seelaar at the helm, VOC have plenty of firepower with both bat and ball, and they will be very disappointed if they do not give a much better account of themselves than in 2017. Dosti, too, have a lot to prove, but they will need a much greater team effort if they are to avoid putting excessive weight on the shoulders of their overseas players, Taruwar Kohli and Anees Davids.

Overall, though, VOC look like a much stronger outfit, and they will be favourites to take the points back to Rotterdam, avenging in the process their last opening visit to Drieburg, when they were dismissed for 17 in the first round of the 2016 season.


Rod Lyall’s first-round tips: Excelsior, HCC, VRA, HBS, VOC.