Rod Lyall 13/07/20
Time was that it was not uncommon in Dutch cricket for all four innings of a two-innings match to be completed in a single day, no side making much over 50 and all 40 wickets falling in the space of eighty or so overs.
Then a number of things happened: pitches and batting techniques improved, and eventually two-innings cricket was replaced by the one-day game. Even more significant, from the late 1970s onward clubs were permitted an overseas player, euphemistically known as the ‘coach’ but more frequently a hired gun who did little or no coaching but did the job they were employed for, winning matches with bat and/or ball.
Suddenly this season, the impact of coronavirus has driven overseas players largely – though not, as we shall see, entirely – from the scene, and we can more clearly see what the past forty years have achieved in the progress of Dutch domestic cricket.
And even when you take the lack of practice into account, you have to say it’s not an unrelievedly pretty sight.
Two matches on Sunday bore a distressing resemblance to the two halves of one of those long-ago games in what used to be called the Eerste Klas: across the two, 33 wickets fell in 81.5 overs, a total of 224 runs were scored, and the best individual effort was 22, only eight of the 38 batsmen reaching double figures.
At the Bermweg in Capelle a/d IJssel Sparta 1888 skittled ten-man VOC Rotterdam for just 46, and then knocked off the runs for the loss of three wickets in 7.2 overs.
It was a dispiriting performance by VOC, their two most experienced batsmen in skipper Pieter Seelaar and Jelte Schoonheim contributing one run between them, and once Sparta had gained the initial breakthrough they never took their foot off the pedal, Joost Martijn Snoep claiming three for 7, Nasratullah Ibrahimkil three for 5 and Manminder Singh two for 1.
Ramdas Upadhyaya and Arnav Jain showed the only real resistance, doubling the score in a dogged fifth-wicket partnership of 24, but for the most part the hallmark of the innings was tame surrender.
Sparta rubbed it in by dismissing the VOC bowling with near-contempt, although youngster Tiso Moorman picked up two wickets and Schoonheim one.
Dosti United collapsed for the second week in succession, this time against HCC at De Diepput, but this time they did so chasing, and chasing a modest target after their new South African, Touseef Ahmed, one of the handful of overseas players in the competition this year, had claimed six for 26 and confined the home side to a meagre 80.
But Dosti were soon reduced to 8 for four in reply, and only a belligerent 22 from Wahid Masood and an unbeaten 11 from Ahmed, batting at No. 10, enabled them get up to 50.
HCC needed only three bowlers, Hidde Overdijk taking three for 24 and Olivier Klaus four for 15 in an innings which lasted just 21 overs.
Elsewhere, the cricket bore a closer resemblance to what we have become used to.
VRA Amsterdam posted the highest total of the day, making 276 for eight against HBS Craeyenhout in the Amsterdamse Bos.
Highlight of the innings was opener Vikram Singh’s knock of 99, run out in the final over going for a second run which would have given him his second Topklasse century.
Singh was given good support, first by Ben Cooper with an aggressive 35-ball 48, then by Leon Turmaine, who made 36, and finally by Debrub Dasgupta, whose 39 hammered home VRA’s advantage.
HBS never seemed likely to mount a threatening challenge, especially after Quirijn Gunning had removed skipper Tobias Visée for 11, and although Navjit Singh and Adil Ahmed showed some resistance in the middle order they were eventually dismissed for 193 in the last of their 50 overs, still 83 runs short of VRA’s total.
Turmaine was the most successful of the home side’s bowlers with four for 40.
The most absorbing of the matches was at Westvliet, where ACC, recovering from 55 for five to set Voorburg a reasonable target of 197, gave the home side a scare in the middle overs before going down to a four-wicket defeat.
That they were able to put Voorburg under any pressure at all was due to a patient sixth-wicket stand of 84 between Ram Ramesh Babu (56) and 17-year-old Shreyas Potdar, who went on to post his maiden Topklasse half-century and ended unbeaten on 62.
Pick of the Voorburg attack was Stef Mulder with career-best figures of five for 33.
The Villagers appeared to be cruising to victory when Rigchardt Pieterse (31) and Bas de Leede (56) put on 95 for the first wicket in just 16 overs, but then they lost five wickets for 12 runs in eight overs, Anis Raza and Sahil Kothari claiming two apiece, and it seemed as if ACC might again haul themselves back into the game.
Philippe Boissevain had other ideas, however, and in company first with Floris de Lange and then with Viv Kingma he steered his side to victory, making a 57-ball 65 not out and getting Voorburg home with more than six overs to spare.
Excelsior ’20 Schiedam won the title last year by defending low totals, but even 186 proved insufficient t the Zomercomplex as Punjab Rotterdam took just 34.4 overs to cruise to a five-wicket win.
Lorenzo Ingram was, as so often in the past, the mainstay of the Excelsior innings, making exactly 50, but once he had gone the Schiedammers, fielding two teenage debutants, were unable to build on that foundation.
Mubashar Hussain claimed three early wickets at a cost of 25, and then Suleiman Tariq again returned to finish off the tail and end with three for 28.
Stef Myburgh got the Punjab reply off to it accustomed hectic start, belting 34 off 24 deliveries, but Rehmat Zulfiqar held things together even when Niels Etman chipped in with three wickets, removing brothers Asad and Saqib, and eventually Rehmat himself for a well-made 53.
But by that time Punjab’s Indian-born New Zealander Anil Nidamanuru had settled in, and his 41-ball 56 not out, including two fours and five sixes, ensured that his side, like VRA, HCC, Voorburg, and now Sparta, retained their 100% record.