Group A preview

Rod Lyall 12/04/22

For the first time in its 132-year history the Dutch top flight men’s competition will be played in two groups this season, and the teams’ first target will be to finish in the top three of their pool, thus giving themselves a crack at the Topklasse title in the second phase.

At first glance it looked as if Group A might be distinctly the weaker of the two, but with a returning influx of overseas players after the pandemic-induced drought of the past two years and some significant transfers it may prove a tougher challenge than first thought.

2021 champions, Punjab Rotterdam, have made the bold decision to do without any overseas imports, and will largely stay with their winning combination from last season.

With the four Zulfiqar brothers at the top of their order, along with (now former) international opener Steph Myburgh and all-rounder Teja Nidamanuru, they have plenty of power with the bat; whether Myburgh is regularly available remains to be seen, but Punjab fans will be hoping he can reproduce the scintillating form with which he bowed out of the international arena in New Zealand a couple of weeks ago.

The parsimonious seam attack of skipper Suleiman Tariq, Sohail Bhatti, Sikander Zulfiqar and Mubashar Hussain, now joined by Belgian-based, former VOC player Ashiqullah Said, is likely to further trouble opposing batting sides, and with the spin options of Nidamanuru, Saqib Zulfiqar, Irfan ul Haq and possibly the veteran Muhammad Hafeez, Punjab will again be a tough proposition, especially on their bijou ground at Rotterdam’s Zomercomplex.

After last season ended controversially with claims and counterclaims of racist behaviour, HCC will be keen to make a fresh new start, and although they have lost opener Musa Nadeem Ahmad to Voorburg they have compensated for this by acquiring two overseas players, New Zealander Tim Pringle and Australian Zac Worden.

Left-armer Pringle is the son of former New Zealand international Chris, who played for HCC and then for one season with VRA between 1996 and 2001, taking 264 wickets at an average of 11.27, and the Diepput club will be extremely happy if Tim is able to come anywhere close to that kind of effort.

Worden is coming off the back of a successful season opening the batting for his Tea Tree Gully club in the South Australian first grade and was recently selected for the state’s second team; he will slot into the space vacated by Ahmad, and should add solidity to a line-up which showed a tendency to fragility last year, despite the presence of Boris Gorlee, now a Dutch international, Tonny Staal and Damian Crowley.

On the other hand, HCC’s pace attack of Hidde Overdijk, Reinier Bijloos and Olivier Klaus is as menacing as any in the competition, and Clayton Floyd, last year’s leading wicket-taker with 37 wickets at a miserly 7.32, will have benefited from his experience with the Dutch national side over the winter.

Consistently there or thereabouts in recent seasons without ever hitting the heights, HBS Craeyenhout have, like Punjab, opted for the mixture as before.

They will welcome back South African Tayo Walbrugh, who had an outstanding start to last season and finished with 780 runs at an average of 65.00, and Dutch passport holder Ryan Klein, whose sharp pace earned him a place in Ryan Campbell’s national squad this winter; he will be joined by younger brother Kyle, who has already played for the Dutch under-19 side, and the squad will be under the guidance of another South African, Gavin Kaplan, who is part of the coaching team at Gary Kirsten’s academy.

For the rest, HBS will have the experience of skipper Ferdi Vink and mercurial opener Tobias Visée, while they will be hoping that former international star batter (and occasional deadly off-spinner) Wesley Barresi will be more regularly available than the six games he played last season.

They will also be looking for further progress from their emerging talents: allrounders Navjit Singh and Julian de Mey, seamer Benno Boddendijk, and young keeper Martijn Scholte. All told, HBS should certainly be in the mix for one of those top three places.

Among the dark horses of Group A will be promoted side Kampong Utrecht, returning to the top flight after a 24-year absence.

They have signed Auckland wicketkeeper-batter Cole Briggs, who will join South African Pite van Biljon, who enjoyed two successful seasons with the Utrecht club in 2011-12 and who has since played in ten T20Is for South Africa.

Led by the evergreen Usman Malik, the Kampong squad is not short of youthful talent, with under-19 international off-spinner Pierre Jacod, seamer Kertan Nana, the leading wicket-taker in the Hoofklasse last year with 19 at 9.26, and opener Alex Roy all likely to relish the opportunity to move up a level.

There is plenty of experience, too, with seamer Sean Trouw, Shivdutt Singh Jhala, Vikram Chaturvedi, Sandeep Abhyankar, Ratha Alphonse, Saurabh Zalpuri and Robert van der Harten all likely to play a part; with Briggs and Van Biljon to spearhead the side, it would be rash opponents who took Kampong for granted.

By contrast with the stability elsewhere there has been something of a revolving door at the Bermweg, where Sparta 1888 have seen several departures, the most notable of them the transfer of young quick Max Hoornweg to VOC; he has, however, metaphorically passed former international Ahsan Malik somewhere on the A20 as the latter will be appearing in Sparta colours this year.

Another absentee will be last season’s overseas player, Garnett Tarr, who will be with Scottish club Kelburne. He will be replaced by 31-year-old Tripura and former Gujarat batter Samit Gohil, who once made 359 not out for Gujarat in a quarter-final of the Ranji Trophy.

Other acquisitions at the Bermweg include the returning Sandeep Sardha and Belgium pace man Khalid Ahmadi, while Mudassar Bukhari is likely to again be the mainstay of the side with both bat and ball.

Prithviraj Balwantsingh played some useful knocks last year in a team which was generally short of runs, and the Capelle club will be hoping for a better season for the always-dangerous Ali Raza; on the bowling side, Bukhari, Malik and Ahmadi will have the support of fellow-seamers Joost Martijn Snoep and Nasratullah Ibrahimkhil.

If Sparta is to make a serious challenge for a top three spot it will, one suspects, be the bowlers who get them there.

Change is also the order of the day at ACC, another side who found runs hard to come by in 2021.

They will be strengthened by the advent of three South Africans: 27-year-old Limpopo opener Thomas Hobson and two players from Durban’s Amanzimtoti club, Robin Smith, who has experience with Llandudno in Wales and Langley in Cheshire and who was recently selected for the KwaZulu-Natal Coastal side, and Rob Ackerman.

The Amsterdammers will be delighted at the return of Charles McInerney from injury, and will be hoping that their South African trio will create greater space for the development of their crop of promising youngsters, such as seamers Aryan Kumar and Mees van Vliet, batter Shreyas Potdar, and 16-year-old spinner Zinesh Master, who had a sensational debut last season, taking five for 30 against Dosti on his first Topklasse outing.

With Anis Raza, Devanshu Arya and Chris Knoll all lending solidity to the side ACC will be hoping to hold their own in what promises to be a very tight competition, but they will do extremely well to make the cut at the beginning of June.


Scorecard | HBS vs Sparta | 01.05.21

HBS I Vs Sparta I
1-Innings Match Played At Craeyenhout, Den Haag, 01-May-2021, Topklasse
HBS I Win by 9 wkts
Round 1
Toss won by HBS I
Umpires FLA van Lent – E Ruchtie
Scorers MAP Wiegers – AO Smelt
Home Side HBS I
Points Awarded Sparta I 0, HBS I 4
Sparta I 1st Innings 102/10 All Out (Overs 29.5)
Batsman Fieldsman Bowler Runs Bls 4s 6s
D Umar lbw b SP Geenevasen 23 47 2 0
CP Ambrose c A Ahmed b FJ Vink 0 1 0 0
A Raza+ c A Ahmed b R Klein 7 12 0 0
M Bukhari c YSK Visée b R Klein 2 11 0 0
PB Balwantsingh b Navjit Singh 16 22 2 0
SY Butt b JI de Mey 12 20 1 0
M Latif c R Klein b SP Geenevasen 2 3 0 0
Manminder Singh c A Ahmed b JI de Mey 9 18 1 0
JM Snoep* b FJ Vink 8 26 0 0
U Saleem c YSK Visée b R Klein 16 18 1 1
MB Hoornweg not out 1 2 0 0
extras (b0 lb0 w5 nb1) 6
TOTAL 10 wickets for 102
1-2(CP Ambrose) 2-16(A Raza) 3-21(M Bukhari) 4-50(PB Balwantsingh) 5-57(D Umar) 6-59(M Latif) 7-69(SY Butt) 8-83(Manminder Singh) 9-101(U Saleem) 10-102(JM Snoep)
Bowler Overs Maid Runs Wkts wd nb
R Klein 7 0 17 3 2
FJ Vink 5.5 0 19 2 1
SP Geenevasen 6 0 27 2
Navjit Singh 2 0 7 1 1
JI de Mey 6 1 18 2 1
YSK Visée 3 0 14 0 1
HBS I 1st Innings 103/1 (Overs 19.4)
Batsman Fieldsman Bowler Runs Bls 4s 6s
RP Mason not out 41 60 3 0
TP Visée+ c D Umar b M Bukhari 29 18 3 2
Navjit Singh not out 26 40 1 1
A Ahmed dnb
R Klein dnb
JI de Mey dnb
FJ Vink* dnb
BFL Boddendijk dnb
SP Vink dnb
SP Geenevasen dnb
YSK Visée dnb
extras (b0 lb2 w4 nb1) 7
TOTAL 1 wickets for 103
1-50(TP Visée)
Bowler Overs Maid Runs Wkts wd nb
M Bukhari 5 0 27 1 1
Manminder Singh 4 0 39 0 1
MB Hoornweg 4 0 13 0 2
JM Snoep 2 0 4 0
U Saleem 2 0 4 0 1
PB Balwantsingh 2 0 10 0
M Latif .4 0 4 0

Scorecard | Sparta vs VOC | 12.05.20

Sparta I Vs VOC I
1-Innings Match Played At Sportpark Bermweg, Capelle a/d IJssel, 12-Jul-2020, Topklasse
Sparta I Win by 7 wkts
Round 2
Toss won by VOC I
Umpires Z Hussain – P Muthucumaru
Home Side Sparta I
Points Awarded VOC I 0, Sparta I 2
VOC I 1st Innings 46/9 All Out (Overs 24)
Batsman Fieldsman Bowler Runs Bls 4s 6s
MA Durrani b M Bukhari 1 20 0 0
R Malik c A Raza b JM Snoep 6 32 0 0
TIM de Kok+ c A Raza b JM Snoep 4 9 1 0
PM Seelaar* c A Raza b JM Snoep 1 3 0 0
RR Upadhyaya c JM Snoep b M Singh 9 27 0 0
A Jain b N Ibrahimkhil 14 33 1 0
JD Schoonheim b N Ibrahimkhil 0 3 0 0
SB van Wingerden c MB Hoornweg b N Ibrahimkhil 0 6 0 0
T Moorman c MB Hoornweg b M Singh 0 4 0 0
H Shah not out 2 7 0 0
CL Rutgers Absent
extras (b0 lb0 w9 nb0) 9
TOTAL 9 wickets for 46
1-8(MA Durrani) 2-18(TIM de Kok) 3-20(PM Seelaar) 4-20(R Malik) 5-44(A Jain) 6-44(JD Schoonheim) 7-44(RR Upadhyaya) 8-44(SB van Wingerden) 9-46(T Moorman)
Bowler Overs Maid Runs Wkts wd nb
M Bukhari 4 1 7 1 3
MB Hoornweg 4 1 8 0 3
JM Snoep 5 1 7 3 2
K Bhatti 6 0 19 0
N Ibrahimkhil 3 1 5 3
M Singh 2 1 1 2
Sparta I 1st Innings 48/3 (Overs 7.2)
Batsman Fieldsman Bowler Runs Bls 4s 6s
A Raza+ c JD Schoonheim b T Moorman 16 9 2 1
S Sardha b T Moorman 0 1 0 0
F Iqbal c TIM de Kok b JD Schoonheim 16 19 1 0
M Latif not out 9 10 1 0
MB Hoornweg not out 5 5 1 0
M Bukhari* dnb
N Ibrahimkhil dnb
M Singh dnb
JM Snoep dnb
PB Balwantsingh dnb
K Bhatti dnb
extras (b1 lb0 w1 nb0) 2
TOTAL 3 wickets for 48
1-10(S Sardha) 2-21(A Raza) 3-35(F Iqbal)
Bowler Overs Maid Runs Wkts wd nb
T Moorman 3 0 18 2 1
RR Upadhyaya 2 0 14 0
JD Schoonheim 1.2 0 7 1
A Jain 1 0 8 0

Season preview 2019 – Part 1

Rod Lyall 30-04-19

VCCMuch of the initial interest in this year’s Topklasse competition will focus on promoted side Voorburg, returning to the top flight after a nine-year absence.

They lost just one match on their march to the Hoofdklasse title last season, and despite the absence of young international allrounder Bas de Leede, now in England with the MCC Young Cricketers, all the indications are that they will be stronger this year, and that they could even challenge for the Topklasse championship itself.

At the heart of their selection are four South Africans, two of them bearers of a Dutch passport and already members of Ryan Campbell’s national squad.

They are seamer Brandon Glover, who took 17 wickets at an average of 6.06 last year, and slow left-armer Clayton Floyd, whose 28 wickets at 13.61 contributed a good deal of the attack’s cutting edge.

He will share the new ball with Viv Kingma, who returns from injury and from VRA showing every sign of wanting to shake up opposing batsmen. Steffen Mulder, the only surviving member of the 2009 Voorburg side unless Tim de Leede decides to take his bat out of the cupboard one more time, will no doubt bowl his share of seamers as well.

With leg-spinner Philippe Boissevain, another member of the Dutch squad, to match Floyd’s left-arm spin Voorburg look to have a balanced and menacing attack.

And that’s without taking into account the contribution of South African brothers Matt and Nicholas Smith, whose main contribution is likely to be with the bat. Left-hander Matt hit 467 Hoofdklasse runs at an average of 116.75 in just seven matches last season before being forced out with a knee injury, and this year he will be joined by Nicholas; both have plenty of experience of club cricket in England, and can be expected to cause problems for opposing bowlers.

The side will again be captained by former Dutch international Tom de Grooth, and with keeper Mohit Hingorani and Australians Noah Croes and Steve Nottle also on their players’ list, Voorburg will be one of the teams to watch as the competition gets under way.

LogoACCThe South African influence will again also be strong at ACC, who will be hoping to improve on a very disappointing 2018 campaign.

Their new recruits are 26 year-old Boland batsman-wicketkeeper Jean Marais and 30 year-old North-West allrounder Brady Barends, who will bring some maturity to what is still a very young and inexperienced outfit.

The Zulfiqar presence will still be of great importance to the side, although Asad has moved to Punjab Rotterdam; elder brother Rehmat, one of the most improved players in the Topklasse last year, will still have skipper Saqib and the other remaining triplet, Sikander, alongside him in the team, even if it is unclear how regular an appearance will be made by their evergreen father Ahmed.

Above all, it’s consistency that the Amsterdammers will be looking for from their three remaining Zulfiqars: all have proved the ability to make big scores and to take crucial wickets from time to time, but their importance to the side is all the greater because of the club‘s commitment to a youth policy, and means that they need to come off more regularly than they were able to do last year.

There will be hope, too, that the younger brigade of Aryan Kumar – arguably the most successful of the group to date – Areeb Shoaib, Jamieson Mulready, Shirace Rasool, Ammar Zaidi and Shreyas Potdar will make significant progress this season, and that some at least of them will hold their own on the demanding Topklasse stage.

It’s not as if ACC don’t have more experienced players on their books: Bas van der Heyde topped the Second side’s batting averages last year, and with the likes of Rehan Younis and Steven de Bruin also potentially available, the opportunity is there to field a more balanced side.

Half-filling a side with teenagers is a laudable commitment to the future, but it only has real value if they are able to rise to the challenge.

LogoQuickJay Bista, the leading run-scorer in the Topklasse last season with 854 at an average of 47.44, is back at Quick Haag, where he will be joined by his countryman Prathamesh Dake, a seam-bowling allrounder who is something of a T20 specialist in his native Mumbai.

Sean Davey has reportedly moved to Ajax Leiden, and with seamer Imran Khan out through injury the club’s rebuilding phase looks set to continue. But the abandonment of the KNCB’s restriction on overseas players means that Namibian Pieter Groenewald could move up from the Seconds to strengthen the Topklasse side.

Otherwise, it looks as if Quick might need to rely on the mixture as before, with Jeroen Brand, Lesley Stokkers, Thijs van Schelven and Geert Maarten Mol, all of whom have played for the national side at some point, among the more familiar names and faces; it remains to be seen whether last season’s successful coup of persuading Edgar Schiferli to return to the colours will be repeated this year.

Keeper Daan Vierling made good progress last season, posting a maiden Topklasse half-century, and Bob van Gigch is another veteran who is always ready to demonstrate that he is still capable of making a contribution in the top flight.

Rogier Rooda and Stefan Ekelmans have yet to establish themselves as fully-fledged members of the side, and they may well find youngsters like Teun Landheer and Tycho de Mooij breathing down their necks.

Visitors to Nieuw Hanenburg will find one major difference this season: the outfield, the butt of more than its fair share of jokes over the years, has gone, as Quick have followed the example of neighbours HBS and laid a brand-new astroturf surface. Whatever one may think about artificial outfields, it seems likely to offer better value for one’s strokeplay than its predecessor sometimes did.

SpartaSparta 1888 made a promising start on their return to the top flight last season, but then fell away and had to be content with seventh position.

There’s been something of a reshuffle at the Bermweg, with Michael Pollard, Warren Bell, Craig Ambrose and Faisal Iqbal all moving on, to be replaced by 25-year-old Wellington batsman Andrew Fletcher and 18-year-old South African wicketkeeper-batsmen Garnett Tarr, as well as by spinner Manminder Singh, batsman Chandan Kumar, and the hard-hitting Ali Raza moving from Hermes-DVS, Excelsior ‘20 and Punjab respectively.

Fletcher will fill the spot vacated by Pollard, and much will depend on his ability to made consistent runs, the core around which Sparta can build significant totals.

That said, with former internationals Mudassar Bukhari and Atse Buurman still on the strength, and Belgium’s Raja Saqlain added to the squad, Sparta will doubtless be a force to contend with, especially at home.

Spearheaded by Bukhari but also featuring solid performances from skipper Joost-Martijn Snoep, Dost Muhammad, young Max Hoornweg, Usman Ishfaq and Usman Saleem, it was the attack which largely kept the Capelle side clear of the relegation zone last season, and apart from the departure of Bell that will be unchanged.

DostiThe least altered of all the squads appears to be Dosti’s. They will sorely miss Mohammad Hafeez, the leading wicket-taker and top of the bowling averages in 2018, who has moved on to Punjab.

But as against that, they have Taruwar Kohli, Anees Davids and Amitoze Singh all on their books again, and this year there is nothing in the rules to prevent all three playing at once; last season Singh proved an invaluable replacement when Kohli returned to India.

Vinoo Tewarie’s side will need more consistency from its local players, not least Tewarie himself. He and Rahil Ahmed have struggled to build major innings, and although they made 378 and 336 runs respectively last year, Kohli needs more support from both of them.

Kohli and Davids are also central to the attack, and will be even more so without Hafeez. Here, however, the pace of Wahid Masood proved useful last season, and the advent of Asief Hoseinbaks to share the spin burden with Mahesh Hans also gave a better-balanced look to the attack.

One of Dosti’s greatest problems, though, is the relative thinness of their squad: they rely heavily on their overseas players and a small number of locals, and they have not been able to find new players to help lift them back to their title-winning form of four years ago.


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.