Rod Lyall & Bertus de Jong 07/08/20
The luck of the draw gives us an absorbing set of match-ups this week, with every game of great potential significance for the final standings, and in some cases a real index of the longer-term prospects of clubs which are – or more worryingly, are not – pursuing strong youth development policies.
RL: HCC’s visit to the Bermweg to take on Sparta 1888 has been given extra zest by the hosts’ nail-biting victory over Voorburg last week. Leading sides have found in the past that the Capelle ground can be something of a banana skin, and Sparta have the attack, led by Mudassar Bukhari, to exploit the fragilities of HCC’s batting. On the other hand, the fact that Sparta had to rely on heroics from their last pair to get them past Voorburg’s less-than-imposing total points to batting weaknesses of their own, and if neither Lenert van Wyk nor Bukhari makes a substantial contribution they can soon be in serious trouble. The Leeuwen managed to survive without Boris Gorlee or Hidde Overdijk last Sunday, and if they are back to anything like full strength they might be expected to carry the day again. But at the Bermweg anything can happen.
BdJ: Van Wyk and Bukhari both have been in menacing form with the bat of late, the former especially in the T20 competition, and Manminder Singh has looked increasingly confident with the bat down the order. Nonetheless the line-up remains top-heavy, and as Hidde Overdijk and Reinier Bijloos showed against VRA a couple of weeks ago, HCC do have an attack that can make things happen. That said, they lack a spinner of the quality of Flip Boissevain and the seam attack isn’t quite the same calibre as that of VCC. Given the difficulty of prognosticating on events at Bermweg, this seems as good a game as any for a sporting disagreement.
RL: Very clearly the team to beat now, Punjab Rotterdam will travel to Westvliet full of confidence for their clash with Voorburg. The encounter between their powerful top order and the home side’s seam attack will fill any neutral cricket fan with anticipation, and with Stef Myburgh in outstanding form and a quartet of Zulfiqars to keep him company, Viv Kingma and Co. will need to be at their best if they are to prevent the visitors from getting way to another lightning start. Voorburg’s batting is a good deal less intimidating, but then so is Punjab’s attack. This asymmetry makes the outcome more difficult to predict, but barring some drama at the top of the Punjab innings it would be surprising if the Rotterdammers came away without the points.
BdJ: Given Boissevain’s showing last week and Viv Kingma’s form in the KNCB intra-squad games this last week, VCC look to be the side best placed to break Punjab’s march toward the title, but the depth that the quartet of Zulfiqars lends to Punjab’s batting lends the Rotterdammers a degree of resilience that VCC have yet had to face. No doubt the Voorburgers will pose Punjab their toughest challenge thus far, but they remain marginal favourites going in.
RL: One of the longest-standing derbies in Dutch cricket, the game between ACC and VRA Amsterdam at Het Loopveld is all the more intriguing this year because of the youthfulness of the two sides. This is not new for the hosts, whose team has for a couple of seasons past, in addition to the now-departed Zulfiqars, featured – at some cost to its results – teenagers like Shirase Rasool, Aryan Kumar, Jamieson Mulready, Ammar Zaidi and Shreyas Potdar. Now Rasool has crossed the Buitenveldertselaan to join VRA, but several of his peers are playing an increasingly significant role in a reconstructed side and have now been joined by Mees van Vliet. VRA, of course, have a rising star in Vikram Singh, stand-in captain last week in the absence of the injured Peter Borren and now developing an opening partnership with Rasool. But with seamer Ashir Abid, allrounder Debrup Dasgupta and left-arm spinner Luke Hartsink all enjoying some success, this match could be a forerunner of Amsterdam derbies for years to come.
BdJ: The injury that Borren acquired at the two team’s last meeting in the T20 comp last week will likely keep him out for the rest of the season, but given what else happened that game that’ll be of little comfort to the hosts. Their main memory will be Ben Cooper making runs for fun against a promising but still raw young attack, who will have to raise their game if they are not to repeat the experience. Having poached Rasool, VRA have the edge in terms of properly-blooded youngsters too. ACC have done better this season than many had expected, but a win over their neighbours would nonetheless be a serious upset – but doubtless one they will be reminding their rivals of for years to come should they pull it off.
RL: Having posted their first win of the season at the expense of Dosti last Saturday, Excelsior ’20 Schiedam will entertain HBS Craeyenhout at Thurlede. Neither side has had a very convincing start to the season but, while it’s hard to take the true measure of the win against hapless Dosti, the success of the opening partnership of Luuk Kroesen and Roel Verhagen, together with the return to batting form of Joost Kroesen and Lorenzo Ingram, suggests that the Schiedammers may be beginning to find some rhythm. The return of Tom Heggelman from holiday adds substance to the side, and they may be too strong for a rather stuttering HBS, distinctly second-best against HCC last week. The Crows’ batting depends so much on Tobias Visée that his early dismissal almost guarantees a modest total, and the attack has too often found itself defending indefensibly low scores. If HBS field first, however, the bowling is talented – and varied – enough to cause Excelsior some problems.
BdJ: After an underwhelming start, Excelsior’s youngsters have warmed to their task. A win against a hollowed-out Dosti side admittedly says little, but nonetheless things look to be coming belatedly together for the title-holders. With HBS’ once-vaunted batting depth looking increasingly like the Aral Sea, it’s hard to see the Crows coming out on top in the absence of another hitting exhibition from Visée. An unbeaten 139 in last week’s T20 from the Crows’ skipper rather underlined that ever-present danger, but bar some thus-far absent support from the middle order, Visée will struggle to win it on his own.
RL: Two sides still looking for their first win, VOC Rotterdam and Dosti-United meet at the Hazelaarweg. Even without Pieter Seelaar the Rotterdammers have not been a million miles away from breaking their duck in recent weeks, and the return to the attack of first Bobby Hanif and then Ahsan Malik has given it a much more menacing look. Dosti, on the other hand, have looked completely out of their depth, and even Touseef Ahmed has not been able to give them a competitive edge. Deprived not only of their core overseas players but also of Rahil Ahmed, Anees Davids and Mohammed Hafeez, they are a shadow of their former selves, and the absence of a strong group of young players to support Vinoo Tewarie and Mahesh Hans is desperately worrying for the future of the club. For VOC, by contrast, 16-year-old Siebe van Wingarden has been bowling ten economical overs every week, and with Arnav Jain and the returning Tim de Kok having slotted into the side they will be confident of claiming their first points this week.
BdJ: There’s little more to be said there. Dosti have been abject this season, and despite Tewarie and Hans occasionally hauling them toward respectability and Waheed Masood enjoying a personally solid season, VOC will have to lower their game substantially if they are to get through the season with their record unblemished by points.
Rod Lyall’s tips: HCC, Punjab, VRA, Excelsior, VOC.
Bertus de Jong’s tips: Sparta, Punjab, VRA, Excelsior, VOC.