Round 6 Preview

Rod Lyall & Bertus de Jong 18/05/22

The second round of the first phase sees the two groups in rather different situations: in Group A the six teams are arrayed in an orderly fashion, each one win ahead of their nearest rivals, but Group B is much more even, with the teams in second and third, and in fourth and fifth, separated only by net run rate. But in neither group is the final division into Championship and Relegation pools anything like settled, and there are likely to be some more tense struggles in the coming weeks.

Group A

RL: After their last-ball victory over Kampong last Saturday, Sparta 1888 are away again this week, facing HCC at De Diepput. On paper HCC are distinctly the stronger in both batting and bowling, but they had to battle hard to overcome ACC last week, and Sparta have proved if they are nothing if not a team of fighters (in the best possible sense). They have, moreover, been strengthened by the advent of Samit Gohil, whose batting looked genuinely first-rate against Kampong and who also gives skipper Mudassar Bukhari useful options with his bowling as well. The Lions’ attack was a little less incisive than usual against ACC, and will no doubt be hoping to make early inroads into the Sparta batting. Sparta missed former international Ahsan Malik at Kampong, his new-ball combination with Bukhari an important asset, and will hope to see him restored to the side as soon as possible. Specifically, they will need to find a way of neutralising the threat of Zac Worden, who is showing signs of becoming a permanent resident at the crease with five successive half-centuries for HCC.

BdJ: If there’s one thing to be said in defense of the two-pool format this season, it’s that it does lend greater consequence to this sort of mid-table clash. A win for HCC here would significantly strengthen their hold on a top three spot, giving them a two-win safety margin heading into the latter part of phase one, while a Sparta victory would put the two neck-and-neck for third place and the security that comes with it. Worden apart, HCC’s batting line-up has have looked rather inconsistent since their Tonny Staal-inspired opening win at Bermweg, but conversely one could say that most all of the top six have contributed at one point or another. The same cannot be said of Spartan bats, of whom all but Bukhari and Gohil average in the teens or worse this season. IF they are to break into the upper half of the table, they will likely need the rest of the line-up to step up come Saturday.

RL: HBS suffered a fairly traumatic defeat at Punjab last week, and will need to bounce back fast when they face ACC at Craeyenhout on Saturday. They were admittedly without the talismanic Tobias Visée and the injured Gavin Kaplan, but even so their batting collapse was dramatic enough to leave some scar tissue. ACC are, of course, a different proposition, and the Crows will be happy to be back at Craeyenhout for this encounter. Their attack is among the stronger units in the competition, but they need the batting to give them a defensible target. Or bowl first, obviously. Tayo Walburgh has had a rather mixed start to the season, and they will be hoping that he can find the sort of rich vein of form with which he began last year. ACC’s South Africans, Thomas Hobson and Robin Smith, have settled in well, while the progress made by Shreyas Potdar has also been a positive feature, as has the bowling of Mies van Vliet and of new acquisitions Joseph Reddy and Rob Ackermann, another member of the South African contingent.

BdJ:ACC have certainly had a slow start to the season, slow enough that they’ll already be more concerned about avoiding relegation than anything else. That said, they’ve assembled a side that might have set their sights higher had they settled sooner. With HBS’s glass cannon of a line-up shattering spectacularly at the Zomercomplex, the Amsterdammers may sense a chance to climb two points closer to the safety of the top three, though on paper the Crows at Craeyenhout remain favourites against most any team in the league.

RL: Defending champions Punjab Rotterdam go from strength to strength, and will be full of confidence for their expedition to Maarschalkerweerd to take on winless Kampong Utrecht. Winless but not totally off the pace, as that last-ball defeat by Sparta (and one or two other results) have shown. Whether that will be enough to halt Punjab’s relentless march is, of course, another question: the Rotterdammers were a class too good at the Zomercomplex on the season’s opening day, and although there has been the occasional stutter since, nobody has yet figured out a way of overcoming their varied and menacing attack, or of getting all the way through their powerful top seven. Kampong have a useful enough side, with Alex Roy’s bowling and the batting of Cole Briggs, Usman Malik and Ratha Alphonse impressive at times, but they are palpably short of match-winners, and a Punjab victory here appears to be one of the safer bets of the campaign.

BdJ: Kampong’s lack of star power has been a running theme this season, their long-announced but still absent overseas signings Pite van Biljon and Shubham Ranjane leaving a gap on the team-sheet that they’ve struggled to fill. Certainly individual players on the Kampong roster have shown they can make the step up to compete at Topklasse level, but the team as a whole looks to have more weak links than strong on any given day. Punjab have meanwhile continued their unbeaten streak where they left off last season, though it should be noted this will be there first test on a turf wicket since their group phase match away at VCC last year, which just happens to be the last match they lost.

Group B

RL: Voorburg, too, are riding high, and were too strong for Excelsior ’20 in their season’s opener. Both sides have been reinforced since then, Voorburg by the arrival of Janneman Malan and Logan van Beek, their opponents by the return of skipper Tom Heggelman and, after a somewhat longer absence, Brett Hampton. There is pretty general agreement that this Voorburg outfit is one of the strongest domestic sides ever to take the field in the Netherlands, and even though they had a few uncomfortable moments against VRA last week it would not come as a surprise if their first really serious challenge didn’t come until the Championship pool in the back half of the season. Excelsior may well join them there, but last week’s heavy defeat by VOC makes Group B a real contest, and even if they are on the wrong end of this one they will hope to restrict the damage to their net run rate inflicted upon them at the Hazelaarweg.

BdJ: With one foot in the championship pool already, VCC have the luxury of a four point cushion over their nearest rivals and six points over the cut-off line. That said, though they can afford a slip-up or two they’ll be keen to avoid one on Saturday, as a loss to Excelsior would more likely than not be carried forward into the final phase. In that respect they arguably have more to lose than the Schiedammers, who are unlikely to have banked on taking points home from Westvliet in their pre-season strategising. They are the last team to have done so however, rolling Voorburg for 116 last season on the way to a 7-wicket win. But this is a considerably stronger VCC side of course, and after their drubbing at the hands of VOC last week, repeating that trick would be quite the upset.

RL: VRA Amsterdam, similarly, will be aware that their position in the top half of the group is far from secure, and may view their journey to Deventer to take on Salland as a potential banana-skin. Salland skipper Victor Lubbers had a great game with both bat and ball against Dosti last Sunday, and will doubtless relish another opportunity, this time on home turf, to take on the club where, as a teenager, he first made an impression in senior cricket. Like Kampong, their fellow-promotees, Salland have plenty of useful players without many real stars, although German captain Venkat Ganesan and his international team-mate Elam Bharathi have shown themselves to be influential allrounders at this level. VRA’s youngsters, reinforced by Jack Balbirnie and Eduard Visser, have been impressive in fits and starts, although they will be hoping that Peter Borren has recovered sufficiently from last week’s indisposition to return to his steadying role at the head of the side.

BdJ: Given their rather modest ambitions at the start of the season, VRA will be more than pleased with their position as it stands, though with the realisation that a top-three finish is entirely with in their grasp one suspects that nerves may be creeping in ahead of their long trip out East to the largely unfamiliar Schootsveld. Salland have not had much opportunity to capitalise on home advantage as yet, playing their only home fixture thus far against a VCC side in their most hype-fulfilling form, and may sense a chance to bag some points against a road-weary VRA side, especially if Borren is absent or firing at less than 100%. Though VRA’s young side has outperformed expectations this season, they have nonetheless relied heavily on their evergreen skipper, Borren playing a key role with bat or ball in each of their three wins so far. By the same token, Salland have suffered for their own skipper’s slump in form, and will hope Lubbers’ showing against Dosti last week is a sign of things to come.

RL: By demolishing Excelsior last week VOC Rotterdam seemed to be emerging from the doldrums which had affected them for a couple of crucial weeks, and they will want to maintain that momentum when they take on Dosti Amsterdam at the Hazelaarweg. Dosti’s doldrums, by comparison, appear to be a veritable Sargasso Sea, and they will need to lift themselves considerably if they are to sail away from what seems an increasingly likely relegation. For VOC, the spectacular return to form of Tim de Kok and the continuing good form of young Belgian Burhan Niaz have taken some of the pressure off the three Dutch internationals, and they will hope for that to continue long enough to carry them securely into the top three. The contributions of Waqas Raja and Wahid Masood are enough to give Dosti hope of better days, but it will take more consistent support from more of the side if they are to reverse their now years-long barren period.

BdJ: While the season has shown that, outside of the three Dutch internationals, VOC’s batting line up-cannot be relied upon for runs, Tim de Kok delivered a timely reminder last week that the opposition can’t rely on them to fail either. With Dosti’s overseas reinforcements still held up by visa problems (though there are rumours that Amitoze Singh’s arrival in imminent) it’s difficult to see the Drieburgers getting through the VOC line-up without similar incident. Though the Dosti attack is capable of finding wickets, a full innings of sustained pressure has proved hard to produce, and likewise last week’s effort against Salland was the closest they have come to batting 50 overs. Given Dosti’s struggles, for VOC this looks a must-win fixture, securing two points that would keep their top-three hopes alive, but perhaps more importantly carry through to the second phase should they fail to make the cut and be faced with a tricky relegation fight at the back end of the season.

RL’s picks: HCC, HBS, Punjab, Voorburg, VRA, VOC.

BdJ’s picks: HCC, HBS, Punjab, Voorburg, VRA, VOC.

Dosti vs Salland at Drieburg|Round 5|15.05.2022

Group B tightens; Kampong and Sparta provide a last-ball thriller

Rod Lyall 16/05/22

The Group B table tightened considerably at the weekend, as both VOC Rotterdam and Salland recorded their second victories of the Topklasse campaign, moving to within one win of Excelsior ’20 and VRA Amsterdam and boosting their hopes of making it into the Championship group in the competition’s second phase.

VOC’s thumping 222-run demolition of Excelsior featured a remarkable return to form by Tim de Kok, whose first four innings of the season had yielded just 11 runs, but who now multiplied that by ten as he hammered a 72-ball 110 which included twelve fours and five sixes.

De Kok shared a 159-run stand for the fifth wicket with Pieter Seelaar (68) after VOC, who had made a decent start with 37 apiece from openers Scott Edwards and Max O’Dowd, had suffered a minor collapse to reach 111 for four.

With Jelte Schoonheim and Ayaz Durrani plundering 37 off the last three overs VOC finished on 317 for six, the highest total by any side this season, and then young Belgian international Burhan Niaz ran through the Excelsior line-up, taking six for 10 in ten overs to reduce the Schiedammers to 64 for eight.

Niels Etman showed some resistance with an unbeaten 21, but Schoonheim claimed the last two wickets for just one run as Excelsior were all out for 95.

Salland skipper Victor Lubbers had an enjoyable day out at Sportpark Drieburg on Sunday, leading his side to a five-wicket victory over Dosti Amsterdam by taking four for 27 and then making 56 not out as Salland chased down Dosti’s total of 187.

Dosti’s innings was built around Waqas Raja’s 55 and 33 from Mahesh Hans, but with Gul Ahmed Nasir taking three for 48 and the rest of the attack giving Lubbers and Nasir excellent support the home side never really achieved any momentum.

Lubbers then shared useful stands with Talha Khan and Elam Bharathi, both of whom made 32, and Salland reached their target with 11.1 overs to spare.

Group B leaders Voorburg did not have things all their own way in the Amsterdamse Bos, despite reducing VRA to 49 for six with 13 overs.

Jack Balbirnie (29) and Udit Nashier (42) instituted a recovery of sorts, and with 21 not out from Mitch Lees the Amsterdammers battled their way to 153 before Shariz Ahmad finished the innings off with three wickets for 21.

Voorburg reached 46 for one in reply, but when Eduard Visser grabbed three wickets in the space of twelve balls, removing Bas de Leede, Delano Potgieter and Tom de Grooth in quick succession, they suddenly needed to rebuild.

They were rescued by Logan van Beek, in the side for the first time this season, who made 57 not out and, in company first with Karl Nieuwoudt and then with Mohit Hinorani, saw them safely home; Visser finished with three for 52 for VRA.

The much-anticipated clash at the Zomercomplex between the unbeaten Group A leaders, Punjab Rotterdam and HBS Craeyenhout, turned out to be an anticlimax, with HBS collapsing dramatically to 57 all out and losing one of the shortest matches in Topklasse history by nine wickets.

Suleiman Tariq and Safiullah Salarazai did the early damage for Punjab, taking three for 26 and three for 21 respectively, while Ashiqullah Said claimed three for 3 in 18 deliveries to clean up the HBS tail; only Wesley Barresi, with 19, reached double figures.

Stephan Myburgh belted a 21-ball 38 when Punjab replied, hitting six fours and two sixes, and with Rehmat Zulfiqar making a run-a-ball 22 not out the Rotterdammers needed only 7.2 overs to reach their target, greatly improving their net run rate in the process.

What that match lacked in tension was more than made up for elsewhere, with the other two Group A matches going into the final over.

A third-wicket partnership of 128 between Shreyas Potdar (59) and Robin Smith, who went on to make 101 not out from 83 deliveries with five fours and six sixes, was the foundation of ACC’s 239 for six at Het Loopveld, as the generally-impressive HCC attack found itself a good deal less dominant than usual.

But the ACC bowlers did not find the conditions any more helpful: Zac Worden (53) made his fifth consecutive half-century, sharing an opening stand of 92 with Tony Staal (40), and then Boris Gorlee kept his side in the hunt with 79 from 80 deliveries.

Even so, the Amsterdammers held their nerve, and although HCC had wickets in hand it took them until the fourth ball of the final over to hit the winning run.

That tension, however, was as nothing compared to events at Maarschalkerweerd, where Kampong Utrecht and Sparta 1888 reached the final delivery of the game with the scores level and all results still possible.

Kampong had battled their way to 211 all out, Cole Briggs making 53 and Mudassar Bukhari, Samit Gohil, Nasrat Ibrahimkhil and Tom Hoornweg all picking up two wickets for Sparta, and at 111 for four Sparta seemed to be comfortably placed for the win.

But the Kampong bowlers continued to take wickets, and it was left to Bukhari to steer his side home as partners came and went at the other end.

Nine runs were still required when the ninth Sparta wicket fell off the final delivery of the penultimate over, and although Bukhari lifted some of the pressure by hitting a six off the third ball of Shivdutt Singh Jhala’s last, he could only manage a single from the next to level the scores.

Last man Hoornweg defended the last but one, but then knocked the final ball into the covers to complete the most exciting of victories.

Round 5 Preview

Rod Lyall & Bertus de Jong 12/05/22

Suddenly we’re at the halfway mark of the first phase in this very unusual season (unusual not least because so far not an over has been lost to the weather), and it seems almost as if the draw had been worked out with the results known in advance. Let us explain.

Group A

RL: The unquestioned match of the day is between the two unbeaten sides in the group, with HBS Craeyenhout travelling to the Zomercomplex to take on Punjab Rotterdam. Neither had things entirely their own way last week, with the defending champions dismissed for a comparatively modest total by Sparta, and HBS having to draw on all their resources to see off the challenge from HCC. Punjab’s top order has been a lot less consistent this season than it was last year, although they bat deep enough for rescue operations to be mounted, as they were last Saturday by Saqib and Sikander Zulfiqar, and as they have been in other games by the Netherlands’ latest international prospect Teja Nidamanuru. The attack, moreover, is incisive enough to dig them out of most situations. HBS, by contrast, have shown that they can survive the early dismissals of Tobias Visée and Tayo Walbrugh, although the injury to Gavin Kaplan last week will be a source of concern. These sides are unbeaten for a reason, and we can hope to be treated to a Battle of the Titans at the Zomercomplex on Saturday.

BdJ: Punjab have certainly had to work a little harder for their early wins this season than last time round, but though the top order has been a little hit-and-miss so far they do indeed have enviable batting depth, and the bowling has generally been more reliable. Nobody has yet managed to put 200 runs on them, and one suspects HBS will need at least that if they’re to keep their own unbeaten record intact. In Kaplan’s absence they will likely need runs from either Visée or Walbrugh, with the middle order having looked rather fragile otherwise. Though having Ryan Klein and Wesley Barresi lurking down the order has proved a more than handy insurance policy, the rest of line-up have been little more than passengers thus far and the Crows will likely need to flock together on Saturday if they’re to take any points back to the Hague.

RL: Having secured their first win of the season at home to Kampong last Saturday, ACC face what is likely to be a much stiffer task in the form of HCC, again at Het Loopveld, this week. HCC spearhead Hidde Overdijk bowled superbly against HBS on Sunday and has also been in useful form with the bat, while Zac Worden has been an immovable force at the crease in all four games so far. With Damian Crowley now back in the line-up as well the Lions might reasonably expect to be kings of the Topklasse jungle, but those points dropped to Punjab and HBS may well come back to haunt them later in the season. Their hosts, by contrast, are still settling into a unit, and although tall paceman Mees van Vliet is making encouraging progress and thoroughly deserved his five-for against Kampong, it will be a real test of his character and skill when he faces the HCC top order. ACC’s big problem remains making enough runs quickly enough, and while it was good to see Anis Raza and Shreyas Potdar combine in a solid stand last week, Thomas Hobson, Robin Smith and Co. will need to be on their mettle against HCC’s varied and menacing attack.

BdJ: If ACC’s unfancied 2021 squad turned out to be somewhat more than the sum of its parts, the story this season has been rather the opposite. Despite a number of acquisitions over the winter looking to have strengthened the Amsterdam outfit considerably, the newcomers have, broadly speaking, yet to effectively adjust to the conditions. Rather it was the familiar faces that delivered their first points last week. That said, the fact that ACC have plainly under-performed so far suggests ample room for improvement and their opponents, despite looking the more impressive outfit, have taken their only wins against teams in the lower half of the table and twice come up short in the face of stronger opposition. The persistence with the experimental promotion of Clayton Floyd to replace Musa Nadeem at the top of the order suggests a lack of confidence in other options, and Worden aside none of HCC’s top order have delivered consistently. That is not to say that HCC will be heading to Amsterdam as anything other than clear favourites of course, but the ingredients for an upset are there. So on that basis, in the absence of any other disagreement between us, this will be the match where I make my sporting prediction distinction.

RL: Yet to get off the mark after losing to ACC last week, Kampong Utrecht will get a repechage when they welcome Sparta 1888 to Maarschalkerweerd on Saturday. Both these sides seem almost certainly to be heading for the relegation pool, so the points on offer here are of even greater significance. The Capelle outfit have now been boosted by the arrival of overseas player Samit Gohil, and if he made a greater impact with the ball than with the bat against in his first outing against Punjab, in the longer term he provides a much-needed strengthening of a palpably struggling Sparta top order. With Ahsan Malik and Mudassar Bukhari having proved that they can take the top off opposition line-ups, Kampong will need to weather that initial storm if they are to break their duck here. Several of their batters have contributed usefully on occasion, but they have yet to put together a really convincing collective effort with the bat, and apart from the admirable Alex Roy the attack has lacked penetration. No doubt Kampong have the potential to gain crucial points from this game, but Sparta will start as favourites.

BdJ: If there remain serious questions about the top-flight credentials of the Sparta batting card, they seem unlikely to be asked on Saturday by a Kampong attack that has either conceded 200+ runs or taken no more than three wickets in each of their four matches to date. Should the thus-far absent Pite van Biljon belatedly arrive to bolster the Kampong batting by Saturday it would certainly increase the chances of an upset in a game that, on current form, they will likely have to win with the bat. Current form for both sides is, however, extrapolated almost entirely from matches played on mats, so it’s questionable how much predictive power that may have. Kampong could not capitalise on home advantage in their one outing at Maarschalkerweerd against HCC, but it’s not impossible to envisage Sparta’s batting struggling to adjust.

Group B

RL: Unbeaten at the top of their group, Voorburg head to the Amsterdamse Bos to take on VRA Amsterdam. With Janneman Malan running into form at Salland last week and Delano Potgieter demonstrating his hitting power as well as his skill with the ball, Voorburg are starting to live up to live up to their billing as prospective champions. Logan van Beek is yet to join the party, but once he does this will be a team with almost no visible weaknesses, and it will be a huge challenge for Peter Borren’s young side to end their visitors’ winning run. Eduard Visser is a valuable acquisition for the Amsterdammers, as much as an opening pinch hitter as a new-ball bowler, and with Borren himself chipping in with the ball last week as well as continuing to make significant runs in the middle order, VRA deserve their position in the top half of the table. Again, the points here are likely to carry their weight all the way to August, and if Voorburg will inevitably start as favourites, it would be extremely rash to rule out VRA springing a surprise.

BdJ: If VRA have perhaps surprised even their most ardent fans with the degree of success their “be alright on the night” approach to the season has brought them so far, derailing the VCC championship train on Saturday would likely leave them pinching themselves. While Malan seemed to have gotten the hang of typical Dutch conditions last week one suspects the wicket at the Bos will be one that suits him far better, and VRA has also been a happy hunting ground for the prodigal Viv Kingma, who took five-fer against his former club the last time the two side met there in the first of VCC’s three wins over VRA last season. VRA’s rag-tag bunch have come together remarkably well thus far, with Visser, Shah and Dutt looking likely to prove valuable acquisitions and the Amsterdammer’s youngsters (most notably Vikram Singh and Udit Nashier) beginning to deliver on their promise. Yet they remain underdogs against a full-strength VCC, especially in the expected absence of Luke Scully, who has made runs against the Voorburgers in the past. On the other hand, the hosts will feel they have little to lose come Saturday in a fixture they won’t be expecting to yield any points. While Voorburg will start the day as favourites, in a talented VRA side playing close to their best with little fear of losing, they are walking toward likely the slipperiest banana skin that they’ll encounter all season.

RL: VOC Rotterdam have had a disappointing start to the season, and a win against Excelsior ’20 Schiedam at the Hazelaarweg this week will be absolutely crucial to their chances of battling their way back into the top three in the back half of the first phase. Excelsior have duly excelled in their first four games, and their thumping victories over VRA, Salland and Dosti have given them the healthiest NRR of any team in either group. We do tend to harp on about VOC’s dependence on their three internationals, but that’s mostly because they keep reminding us that it’s true. Scott Edwards’ two centuries have been a bright spot in an otherwise dismal few weeks for the Rotterdammers, and even with the all-round efforts of Max O’Dowd and Pieter Seelaar it’s hard to see things improving significantly for them unless players like Tim de Kok and Arnav Jain make a greater contribution with the bat. Excelsior’s recent success might prove to be a bit of a problem, in the sense that with victories by nine, seven and eight wickets their middle order is short of time in the middle, but Lord knows that’s not a bad problem to have. And the attack has the cutting edge to reinforce VOC’s own problems.

BdJ: It has to be said that if it’s fair to make any kind of story out of just four rounds of Topklasse games, the biggest would be the exposure of VOC’s remarkable lack of bench strength. The Bloodhounds have admittedly been hit by the retirement of Dirk van Baren, injury to Bobby Hanif, and the loss of Ahsan Malik to Sparta together with Corey Rutgers’ recusal from first team cricket, yet their inability to fill the gaps must be seen as something of an indictment of their youth production line. In Seelaar, O’Dowd and Edwards they will unquestionably have three of the best players on the park come Saturday, and any of the three could potentially turn the game, but they will start as underdogs in their own back yard against an Excelsior side that, while admittedly bolstered by overseas talent, more importantly shows fewer weak links among their home-grown contingent. Excelsior themselves have only been properly tested once this season and in that instance found wanting against VCC, but then so has everyone else that’s come up against the Voorburgers. The key question on Saturday, one suspects, will be whether Excelsior’s new ball attack can deliver the requisite decapitation strike to prevent Edwards or O’Dowd or from taking the game in hand.

RL: If Dosti are playing at home it must be Sunday, and it’s Salland who make the trip to Sportpark Drieburg this week. Once again, the fact that both sides are pretty certain to be playing in the relegation group come the second phase makes this match a real four-pointer, and Mahesh Hans’s team will perhaps feel that they will have few better chances of posting their second win in nearly three years. But Salland showed with their win over VOC that they are capable of battling their way to a win on occasion, and these are points which could stand them in very good stead when the Relegation Stakes reach the final furlong in August. It’s true that they’ve only managed two half-century partnerships so far, both against VOC, and only half-a-dozen more which reached 20, but Dosti have only passed 50 once, also against the VOC attack. Salland’s bowlers, moreover, have found the going even tougher than Dosti’s, Elam Bharathi and Venkat Ganesan leading the way with four wickets apiece. It’s likely to be a dour battle, but I’m inclined to think home advantage may tip the balance Dosti’s way. ‘If not now, when?’

BdJ: Four rounds in is a little early to be making such firm predictions of course, and both teams are in principle still expecting overseas reinforcement at some point this season which could change such calculations significantly, but as things stand this week’s straggling fixture at Drieburg does already rather look like the first leg of a relegation clash. While Dosti’s batting looks a little deeper on their own matting compared to grass, Salland’s spin-heavy attack won’t play to the pinch-hitting strengths of Masood or Raja at the top, and despite Salland’s disappointing start the hosts will likely need one or both of Rahil Ahmed, Vinoo Tewarie or Hans himself to play a substantial innings on Sunday.

RL’s picks: Punjab, HCC, Sparta, Voorburg, Excelsior, Dosti.

BdJ’s picks: Punjab, ACC, Sparta, Voorburg, Excelsior, Dosti.

Voorburg, Punjab, HBS all win again

Rod Lyall 09/05/22

Victory came in very different ways, but by the end of the fourth round of Topklasse matches there were still three unbeaten teams who are seemingly forging an irresistible path to the Championship group.

The easiest win of the weekend came at Het Schootsveld in Deventer, where Group B leaders Voorburg were untroubled in seeing off their hosts, Salland.

Put in to bat, Voorburg ran up the round’s highest total, 281 for four,  with Janneman Malan making 92 and sharing a second-wicket stand of 142 with Bas de Leede (57).

After they had gone Delano Potgieter piled on the agony for Salland, belting an unbeaten, 43-ball 82 which included two fours and seven sixes.

Salland had no answer to this, and although skipper Victor Lubbers made a dogged 28 they were all out for 73, their misery compounded by three run-outs.

Elsewhere in Group B, Excelsior ’20 Schiedam had an almost equally comfortable win against Dosti Amsterdam at Thurlede, dismissing their opponents for 105 and then knocking off the runs in 17.3 overs for the loss of only two wickets.

Opener Waqas Raja top-scored for Dosti with 28 and Kuldeep Diwan chimed in with 22 not out at the end, but with Tom Heggelman taking three for 14 in ten overs the Amsterdammers’ travails with the bat were otherwise fully evident.

Excelsior’s star of the show, however, was Tim Etman, who hammered 79 not out in their total of 106 for two, facing 65 deliveries and hitting 11 fours and two sixes.

There was a somewhat more even contest at the Hazelaarweg, where VRA Amsterdam had a 60-run victory over VOC Rotterdam.

VRA were given a rapid start by Eduard Visser, whose 21-ball 35 included four sixes, and his opening partner Vikram Singh went on to make 68, with smaller contributions from the rest of the side enabling the Amsterdammers to reach a solid 262 for nine; spinners Pieter Seelaar and Max O’Dowd did most of the damage for VOC, each taking three for 29.

VOC’s reply was dominated by Scott Edwards, who posted his second century of the season with 120, made from 129 deliveries with seven fours and two sixes, but he received too little support from the rest of the side, and with Peter Borren taking four for 45 the Bloodhounds came no further than 202 for nine, 60 runs short.

In Group A, Sparta 1888 rocked leaders and defending champions Punjab Rotterdam at the Bermweg by reducing them to 29 for four inside twelve overs, with Steph Myburgh, Rehmat and Asad Zulfiqar and Sharafat Khogyani all removed by Ahsan Malik and Mudassar Bukhari.

Punjab recovered to 169 thanks to 63 from Saqib Zulfiqar, who shared valuable partnerships with Teja Nidamanuru and Sikander Zulfiqar, while Malik finished with four for 21 for the home side.

The champions then struck back hard when Sparta replied, and the combination of Saqib’s leg spin, which earned him figures of four for 28, and the seam bowling of Sikander (three for 8 from 24 deliveries) was sufficient to dismiss the Capelle side for just 109.

At Craeyenhout on Sunday HBS, the other unbeaten team, had to work very hard to maintain their record against determined challengers HCC.

The Lions’ attack was spearheaded by Hidde Overdijk, who removed Tobias Visée in the second over of the game and went on to claim five for 50, and although Gavin Kaplan helped to rebuild their fortunes with a steady 53 it needed a last-ditch 58 not out from Ryan Klein, including four sixes, to get HBS to 224 for eight.

Klein and Ferdi Vink opened with hostile spells when HCC replied, but Zac Worden again anchored the innings with his fourth consecutive half-century, again supported by Overdijk with 41.

HBS built the pressure effectively, Julian de Mey taking three for 48, and when Worden fell for 66, trying to increase the momentum, the asking rate had risen to nine an over.

Tim Pringle fought to keep his side in the game with an unbeaten 40, but the task was too great and HCC finished on 207 for nine, 18 runs short of their target.

ACC recorded their first win of the season on Saturday, beating Kampong Utrecht by 59 runs at Het Loopveld.

Patient half-centuries by Anis Raza (55) and Shreyas Potdar (51) enabled the Amsterdammers to reach 225 for eight, and although Cole Briggs made 63 for Kampong, Mees van Vliet’s five for 36 was instrumental in the Utrecht side being all out for 166.


Punjab, HBS and Voorburg march on

Rod Lyall 02/05/22

Three sides – Punjab and HBS in Group A and Voorburg in Group B – maintained their unbeaten records on Sunday, and have now taken a significant stride towards the Championship group, while after suffering a third consecutive defeat Dosti, ACC and Kampong seem likely to be facing a battle against relegation.

Of the three leaders HBS Craeyenhout had the greatest difficulty in making sure of the points against Sparta 1888 in a game of fluctuating fortunes at Sportpark Bermweg.

After winning the toss and electing to bat the Crows found themselves 1 for two after seven legal deliveries, Julian de Mey having been bowled by Ahsan Malik off the second ball and the previous day’s centurion, Tobias Visée, removed by Mudassar Bukhari off the first ball of the second over.

Tayo Walbrugh (56) and Gavin Kaplan (40) fought back with a third-wicket stand of 103, but when both were dismissed by Joost Martijn Snoep a collapse followed, as HBS went from 104 for two to 108 for seven.

With Ryan Klein (21 not out) managing the tail the visitors reached 139, Khalid Ahmadi again cleaning up to finish with four for 17, and Klein then grabbed three quick wickets, reducing Sparta to 31 for three.

That soon became 42 for five, and although Manminder Singh, Nasratullah Ibrahimkhil and Ahmadi were able to achieve a partial recovery, Klein returned to end the innings on 103 and finish with figures of five for 27, Ahmadi left not out on 23.

Group A rivals Punjab Rotterdam had fewer problems in accounting for ACC at Het Zomercomplex, bowling their opponents out for 87, of which skipper Anis Raza made a dogged 32 before he was eighth out.

The total at that point was only 57, but Rob Ackermann and Mees van Vliet added another 30 for the final two wickets; Safiullah Salarazai was the pick of the Punjab bowlers with four for 17.

Defending another disappointing total, ACC fought back hard, Van Vliet picking up three for 15 as Punjab crumpled to a precarious 24 for five, but Saqib Zulfiqar and Teja Nidamanuru ensured that there was no further damage, knocking off the remaining runs and ending on 23 not out and 43 not out respectively.

HCC consolidated their claim on the third Championship spot from Group A with a seven-wicket victory over Kampong Utrecht at Maarschalkerweerd.

Put in to bat, Kampong struggled to create momentum against an effective HCC attack in which the seam of Hidde Overdijk (four for 21) combined well with the left-arm spin of Tim Pringle, who took two for 17 in his ten overs.

Usman Malik batted for 85 deliveries for his 26, and it was only the late interventions of Sherry Butt and debutant Tushar Sharma which enabled the home side to reach 158.

HCC found scoring almost as difficult at first, but once Overdijk joined Zac Worden with the total on 70 for three the complexion of the innings changed; Worden reached his third half-century in as many innings, finishing with an unbeaten 65, made from 91 balls with five fours and a six, while Overdijk was the more aggressive of the pair, his 40 not out coming from 53 deliveries and including four fours and a six.

If the bowlers were generally in command in Group A, batters flourished to a greater degree in Group B.

In the Amsterdamse Bos VRA Amsterdam posted the highest total of the day with 253 for seven against Dosti Amsterdam, pinch hitter Eduard Visser kicking off with a 25-ball 40 and opening partner Vikram Singh contributing 49 before skipper Peter Borren took over in the middle overs with a 65-ball 58.

With Luke Scully, Jack Balbirnie and Aryan Dutt all chipping in VRA succeeded in setting Dosti a fairly formidable total, and it soon proved well beyond them: with Visser, debutant Anish Shah and Dutt picking up two wickets apiece and Leon Turmaine cleaning up the tail to finish with three for 11, they were bowled out for 70, giving VRA victory by 183 runs.

A solid effort by Voorburg’s top order saw them to 233 for five against VOC Rotterdam at Westvliet: Musa Nadeem Ahmad (52) made his first half-century for his new club, skipper Bas de Leede scored 62 and Delano Potgieter 49.

VOC made a decent start in reply, Max O’Dowd posting 59 before falling to young Shariz Ahmad, but apart from Arnav Jain (31) and Pieter Seelaar (39 not out) the rest of the batting again failed, and with Bobby Hanif, who had bowled just one delivery in Voorburg’s innings before retiring with a knee injury, unable to bat, the Rotterdammers were all out for 190.

Promoted side Salland were unable to repeat their heroics of the previous day and lost to Excelsior ‘20 by seven wickets at Thurlede: Elam Bharathi top-scored with 38 out of their total of 123, Joost Kroesen taking three for 26 for Excelsior.

Younger brother Luuk then made 38 when the Schiedammers replied, and with Lorenzo Ingram unbeaten on 31 they reached their target with more than 26 overs to spare.

Visée hundred and Salland win light up Round 2

Rod Lyall 02/05/22

An exhilarating century by Tobias Visée and a first Topklasse victory for promoted side Salland were the highlights of Saturday’s matches in a busy double weekend.

Salland threw Group B wide open at the Hazelaarweg, half-centuries by German international Venkat Ganesan and Sahir Naqash enabling them to reach 203 for nine against VOC Rotterdam, Bobby Hanif taking four for 42 for the home side.

Then Ganesan removed both VOC’s openers, Dutch internationals Max O’Dowd and Scott Edwards, and although the 18-year-old Belgian-born Burhan Niaz put up a spirited fight with 46 on his Topklasse debut the Rotterdammers were dismissed for 174, Ganesan finishing with three for 31 and Elam Bharathi with three for 25.

The match was also notable for the return of 69-year-old former international captain Steven Lubbers, veteran of 362 top-flight matches, whose last appearance had been for VRA in August 2003.

Elsewhere in Group B, Excelsior ’20 Schiedam made short work of VRA Amsterdam, Brett Hampton making a successful return to his old club with four for 10 in six overs as the home side were shot out for just 57 in the Amsterdamse Bos.

Lorenzo Ingram also contributed with the ball with figures of 4 – 2 – 3 – 3, and VRA, having reached 34 without loss, saw all ten wickets fall for the addition of just 23 runs.

Tim Etman’s unbeaten 40 then helped Excelsior reach their target in a mere 11.1 overs, giving their net run rate a significant boost in what now seems likely to be a tough battle for second and third place in the group.

Voorburg, meanwhile, reinforced their early position as favourites to top the group table with a six-wicket victory over Dosti Amsterdam at Westvliet.

Viv Kingma, Delano Potgieter, Philippe Boissevain and Shariz Ahmad each claimed two wickets as Dosti were dismissed for 83, Waqas Raja, batting at eight, top-scoring with 22 after his side had been reduced to 37 for six.

The Voorburg reply was again not entirely convincing, but Nehaan Gigani made 25 and then Potgieter saw them home in 22.2 overs.

In Group A, HBS Craeyenhout opener Visée, standing in as captain after Ferdi Vink tested positive for Covid, produced a magnificent response to Kampong Utrecht’s 232 for nine, racing to his fifty off just 22 deliveries and completing his century from 45, hitting 18 fours and three sixes, including five off one Alex Roy over.

After the early loss of Tayo Walbrugh, Gavin Kaplan (47) supported Visée in a second-wicket stand of 119, but Kampong refused to give up the fight, and with Roy returning to claim five for70, including the wickets of both Visée and Kaplan, it was left to Kyle Klein and Benno Boddendijk to squeeze out a two-wicket victory.

Earlier, Kampong had been given a fine start by Cole Briggs (54) and Ratha Alphonse, who put on 103 for the second wicket, Alphonse going on to make 91.

But a middle-order collapse followed, and it took battling contributions from Roy and from Robert van der Harten to get the Kampong total well past 200; Stephan Vink was the most successful of the HBS bowlers with three for 35.

Zac Worden’s 67 gave HCC a great start against Punjab Rotterdam at Het Zomercomplex, but then Sharafat Khogyani worked his way through the middle and lower order, taking six for 29 as HCC declined from 136 for two to 198 all out.

Steph Myburgh again began in top gear, his 58 coming from just 31 deliveries with six fours and three sixes, but once he had gone the innings faltered somewhat, despite a solid 50 from Rehmat Zulfiqar.

But then Teja Nidamanuru was joined by Saqib Zulfiqar, and with the former making an unbeaten 43 they saw their side to a six-wicket win to stay top of the group.

On a miserable day for the three Amsterdam clubs, ACC were all out for 101 against Sparta 1888 at Het Loopveld, Khalid Ahmadi doing much of the damage with four for 17 after Ahsan Malik had removed both openers, including Anis Raza for a golden duck; newcomer Fergus Wegener top-scored with 24.

ACC fought back hard in the field, however, and although Ali Raza contributed a hard-hitting 38-ball 40, Mees van Vliet struck back with three wickets and with Sparta, on the brink of victory, slumping from 99 for five to 100 for eight, the Capelle side just managed to creep across the line for a hugely important two-wicket victory.

The sun shines on a new-look Topklasse

Rod Lyall 24/04/22

What is perhaps the earliest opening day in the history of the Dutch competition was greeted with splendid Spring weather on Saturday, bright sunshine tempered by a chilly breeze, and although there may have been some creaking joints and aching muscles, there were also some outstanding performances.

The tightest match of the day was at Het Loopveld, where fortunes fluctuated all day before HBS Craeyenhout won the Group A encounter with ACC by 46 runs.

Put in to bat, HBS were given a great start by Tobias Visée, who cracked a 21-ball 42 in typically Dartagnan-like fashion, dominating an opening stand of 60 at almost ten an over before he was dismissed by Robert Ackermann.

Tayo Walbrugh continued at the other end, but some fine bowling from Thomas Hobson and Joseph Reddy brought ACC back into the game, and with five wickets falling for 23 runs HBS were in trouble at 106 for six; Hobson finished with three for 23 and Reddy two for 20.

This brought Ryan Klein in to join Walbrugh, however, and they proceeded to turn the innings around with a stand of 113, Walbrugh reaching his century before, with three overs remaining, he fell to Mees van Vliet.

Klein continued to attack, bringing his own score to 76 before he became Van Vliet’s third victim of 23 runs, and HBS closed on 247 for nine.

ACC’s hopes of overhauling this target were largely dependent on South African overseas player Robin Smith, who shared a third-wicket stand of 59 with Hobson (48) and who thereafter played a fairly lone hand with some support from Navin Saran and Ammar Zaidi.

Once the latter had gone and his side were reduced to 183 for seven Smith began to hit out in earnest, but after smacking Stephan Vink for a huge six he tried to repeat the shot and was caught by Walbrugh, lurking in the deep, departing for a fine 92.

Vink finished with three for 23 as ACC were all out for 201, Kyle Klein and Ferdi Vink picking up two apiece.

Walbrugh was beaten in the century stakes, however, by HCC opener Tonny Staal, who made 121 as his side ran up 263 for three against Sparta 1888 at Sportpark Bermweg.

He and Clayton Floyd put on 70 for the first wicket, and then Staal and Zac Worden added 122 for the second, Worden ending the innings on 79 not out.

Sandeep Sardha hit a defiant 46 at almost a run a ball when Sparta replied, but the HCC attack was too strong for the Capelle club’s batting, only Nasratullah Ibrahimkhil holding out with an unbeaten 40 as they were dismissed for 168; Henrico Venter was the most successful of the HCC’s bowlers with three for 15 from five overs, with Clayton Floyd, Tim Pringle and Olivier Klaus each picking up two wickets.

In the remaining Group A match first-time champions Punjab Rotterdam began their defence of their title with a comfortable win over promoted side Kampong Utrecht, Mubashar Hussain taking four for 38 and Saqib Zulfiqar three for 42 as Kampong were all out for 172, to which skipper Usman Malik contributed 58.

The Kampong bowling was then unfortunate enough to run into Stephan Myburgh in full cry, who despatched them to all parts with a superb, 88-ball knock of 108 not out, including 11 fours and six sixes, as Punjab cruised to victory in 28.4 overs.

It was Myburgh’s 15th top-flight hundred, the most by anyone this century.

The promoted side in Group B, Salland Deventer, were similarly overpowered by VRA Amsterdam in the Amsterdamse Bos.

Batting first, VRA posted 249 for four, thanks in large measure to an unbroken fifth-wicket stand of 135 between Jack Balbirnie (57 not out) and skipper Peter Borren (75 not out from 66 deliveries), the latter passing fifty for the 67th time in his 301 matches for the club.

Salland had no answer to this, and although opener Pasan Ottachchige made a patient 42 before he was seventh out, Aryan Dutt marked his arrival in the Bos with figures of five for 11, and the Deventer side were all out for a disappointing 110.

Many observers’ pre-season title favourites Voorburg achieved a six-wicket victory over Excelsior ’20 Schiedam at Thurlede, but it took them almost the full complement of overs to do it.

With both sides still awaiting overseas reinforcements the early exchanges were dominated by Voorburg’s Delano Potgieter, who took three for 16 in 8.1 overs, and by Excelsior’s long-serving Lorenzo Ingram, who top-scored with 41 out of the Schiedammers’ total of 164.

Voorburg were soon in trouble at 19 for three when they replied, but Bas de Leede and Tom de Grooth steadied the ship with a fourth-wicket partnership of 95, and after Rens van Troost removed De Grooth for a steady 38 Karl Nieuwoudt provided a much-needed acceleration which saw the visitors home with two overs to spare.

Nieuwoudt’s 33 not out came from 25 deliveries, while De Leede finished on 73, made from 122 balls with just four boundaries.

On Sunday, VOC Rotterdam completed a comfortable win over Dosti Amsterdam at Sportpark Drieburg, chasing down the home side’s 187 all out to win by seven wickets with almost 15 overs to spare.

The highlight was international wicketkeeper Scott Edwards’s innings of 112 not out, made from 118 deliveries and including 14 fours and two sixes which ensured the Rotterdammers’ success after they had started shakily and found themselves on 30 for two.

Edwards was given excellent support by Arnav Jain, who made 36 out of a stand of 157 for the third wicket before, with the scores level, he holed out to Kuldeep Diwan, giving a third wicket to Wahid Masood, who finished with three for 24.

Earlier, opener Masood had given Dosti an excellent start with a knock of 64 before he was stumped by Edwards off Jelte Schoonheim, but thereafter only Mahesh Hans, with 33, was able to put up much resistance.

On his first outing for VOC Max Hoornweg claimed three for 33, while Jain and Schoonheim had two for 29 and two for 20 respectively.

Round 1 Preview

Bertus de Jong 22/04/22

With a new format, two new teams and an influx of new players, the 2022 Topklasse seems almost an entirely different competition to the 2021 edition, and certainly doesn’t make the job of the prognosticator any easier. Nevertheless

Group A

Defending Champions Punjab Rotterdam start their season against newcomers Kampong CC, and as number one seed facing off against the notionally lowest-ranked team in the competition ought to provide us with out easiest prediction. The two teams have seen a fair bit of each other in pre-season, twice facing off in the group phase of the recent ECN T10 competition at Berweg before meeting in the final, and while Punjab claimed two wins from three and took home the title Kampong gave a fine account of themselves, with Sherry Butt and Usman Malik especially impressing. Kampong will also be strengthened by the addition of overseas Cole Briggs and Pite van Biljon, while word is Punjab’s Teja Nidamanuru has picked up a preseason injury and may be sidelined for Saturday. Conversely Stephan Myburgh, who was lamentably absent for the T10 slogathon, is expected to return for the title-holders. While Punjab have not added any significant signings for the coming season, their dominance in 2021 suggests they’ve little need for them even in a strengthened field. Kampong’s appreciably bolstered outfit may yet spring a surprise, but coming up against the champions away first up is certainly something of a baptism of fire.

Likewise something of an unknown quantity for 2022, ACC will be fielding a number of new faces when they take on HBS at het Loopveld. Most notably of course are the trio of South Africans brought in to bolster the side – Batting all-rounder Thomas Hobson along with keeper-bat Robin Smith and his Amanzimtoti clubmate Robert Ackerman – but ACC have also attracted a number of drift-ins for the season, such as young Afghan bat Elias Meakhel and Englishmen Zachary Mitchell and Chris Gregory. How quickly the newcomers at het Loopveld adjust to local conditions will be key to ACC’s fortunes, and they face a stern test first-up. HBS have brought in Gavin Kaplan as player-coach to further strengthen a batting card that already boasts the dangerous Toby Visée, Tayo Walbrugh and (for at least one more season) former national team keeper Wesley Barresi. Former Netherlands under-19s all-rounder Kyle Klein joins his elder brother Ryan in HBS black for 2022. The latter has looked in particularly fine form in pre-season. ACC’s newcomers will have to find their feet quickly if they are to are to avoid being picked apart by the Crows in their season opener.

After a disappointing 2021 season, Sparta 1888 have looked to fill in some gaps in the off-season, though their acquisitions are less eye-catching than some in the League they look a somewhat more balanced side than last year as they prepare to face HCC in their opening match. Former international Ahsan Malik comes over from VOC in a swap with seamer Max Hoornweg, while Sandeep Sardha also returns to Berweg. While the Spartans’ pre-season has not promised much, failing to make finals day in their home ECN-series, they were largely understrength and notably without overseas signings Rikus Allen and Samit Gohil. Their opponents have been strengthened by the arrival of overseas Tim Pringle, Zac Worden, and fomer Zimbabwe youth international Patient Charumbira though the new arrivals didn’t made much of an impression in pre-season Chicking T20 cup at VCC this week, HCC nonetheless start as favourites, with the core of the side that topped the 2020 table intact.

Group B

Across the other side of the draw last year’s runners-up Voorburg CC head to Schiedam to take on Excelsior ‘20 at Thurlede. The hosts have the good fortune of catching VCC early in the season, with headline-grabbing signing Janneman Malan yet to arrive and Dutch international Logan van Beek also delayed by wedding plans abroad. Yet VCC have plenty of depth this season, with skipper Bas de Leede looking in fine touch both at the ECN tourney at Cappelle and at the aforementioned ChicKing Cup, while new opening bat Musa Nadeem (over from HCC) also has runs under his belt. Nonetheless Excelsior may sense an opportunity to steal a march on the pre-season favourites, with both firm fixture Lorenzo Ingram and the prodigal Brett Hampton both ready to take the field. Excelsior’s home-grown array of Etmans, van Troosts and Kroesens have also put up a decent showing in the lead-in to the season with the Schiedammers winning two of their three prep matches without the aid of their overseas.

Arguably the biggest game of the round will be contested by two of the least-fancied teams at Amsterdamse Bos, where a threadbare VRA will welcome the newly-promoted Salland CC. With expectations for both sides carefully moderated for the season, both will be expecting to carry any points from Saturday’s encounter through to lower division in the second phase. For Salland their first top-flight game in over a quarter century is one they have been targetting, assured of a full complement of German internationals and with a fair bit of match practice behind them they will be disappointed to take less than two points back East. They find their hosts in a rather dubious state, not only deprived of three key players in Ben Cooper, Eric Szwarczynski and Quirijn Gunning, but also electing to do without any warm-up matches whatsoever. While in seasons past VRA have generally started poorly despite intensive preparation, it is questionable whether taking the opposite approach will necessarily produce better results. Youngsters Vikram Singh and Aryan Dutt do have the benefit of a preparatory ODI Super League tour to New Zealand of course, which may stand them in good stead when the serious business of the season begins Saturday.

A similar approach to preparation has seemingly been taken by Dosti United and VOC Rotterdam, who will belatedly contest the final match of the round on Sunday, owing to traditional field-availability issues at Drieburg. VOC’s trio of Netherlands internationals Max O’Dowd, Scot Edwards and Oranje skipper Pieter Seelaar have also had the benefit of a tour to New Zealand to hone their skills of course, but will find a sterner test awaiting them at Drieburg than last time round, when the appalling weather was their chief nemesis. Dosti have again secured the services of Kuldeep Diwan and Amitoze Singh for the coming season, and by no means look like the pushovers they’ve been for the past two seasons.

BdJ’s tips: Punjab, HBS, HCC, Excelsior, Salland, VOC.

Voorburg turn heads with Malan, Potgieter signings

Bertus de Jong 07/04/22

2021 Topklasse runners-up Voorburg CC caused something of a stir when they announced a slew of signings ahead of the 2022 season, most prominent among them South African international batsman, Janneman Malan. Also joining VCC during the season is Malan’s elder brother, South West Districts all-rounder Andre Malan, as well as Delano Potgieter, another right arm seam all-rounder who plays for North West Dragons and also impressed for SA Emerging XI on their recent tour to Namibia, while Netherlands international Logan van Beek will be back for the 2022 season.

Janneman Malan

Janneman Malan, who was recently awarded a central contract with Cricket South Africa and won the ICC men’s emerging player of the year last year, is the most high-profile signing by a Topklasse club in some time, but he will not be staying for the entire season, arriving too late for the first round owing to his upcoming wedding and departing mid-June to join up with the South African team.

In fact all three of the South African trio as well as Van Beek will miss some part of the season, explained VCC Chair Kobus Nel, with van Beek’s wedding plans in New Zealand similarly seeing him arrive late and Potgieter staying only until mid-July, while Andre Malan will play only the back end of the season after his brother’s departure.

Though delighted with the prospect, Nel provided context to their signings, stressing that the Malan brothers’ staggered stints at VCC will in effect be covering for Sybrand Engelbrecht, who is recovering from shoulder surgery. “Sybrand’s not likely to play much this season. We’re hopeful that perhaps towards the end of the season he may be able to play some games, but it’s far from certain.” Nel added that it is also through Engelbrecht that the Malans come to VCC. “They are good friends of Sybrand’s, so it’s very much a personal connection.”

Potgieter too, comes to the club via via as the Dutch say. Emiel Bam, new to the VCC coaching team, knows Potgieter after coaching him earlier in his cricket development journey, and made the connection with the club. “Delano thought a spell in the Netherlands during the South African winter would be both good for his game and an exciting new life experience.” The seam all-rounder will also provide a measure of cover for Van Beek, who was unavailable for parts of last season and like a number of our players will likely be regularly called upon by the national team during what looks set to be a packed international summer. “Logan has been great for us of course, both on the field and for the club community, but he missed a number of games last year playing in England. The Dutch have a full schedule that will put substantial physical demands on our national players, so it’s good to have Delano for the first part of the season both for the team and also assisting club wide on the coaching side of things.”

Sybrand Engelbrecht

Nel emphasised the value of the signings from a development perspective above all. “We’ve tried to take a holistic approach to move things forward, always putting our members first. What we’re striving to do is gradually raise the standard from the bottom up, from the juniors, through amateurs and up to the professional level. Having players like Janneman, Andre, Delano and Logan over for a spell is great for the whole club, and especially to support the development of our local international players. But it’s part of a broader aim where we’re attempting to create a cricket centre of excellence in which all involved can have the opportunity to develop their full potential. We have been doing this with our facilities, more recently our indoor facility and hybrid grass wickets, and strive to keep on improving all facets of our cricket club environment. Obviously signing especially Janneman has drawn a fair bit of attention, but that can only be a good thing for the league and Dutch cricket as a whole.”

In addition to the South African trio and the returning Van Beek, VCC also added brothers Musa and Shariz Ahmed to their roster for the coming season. Musa Ahmed, a Dutch-capped left handed opening bat, comes over from HCC while the younger Shariz, a leg spinner, who is also in the national set-up, joins from Groen en Wit. Conversely Netherlands international Aryan Dutt has departed the club for VRA.

Nel finished off by saying, “we’re excited about the season, but more importantly about the strong building blocks we’re putting in place to confidently move VCC into the future.”