Hoofdklasse leaders dominate again
Quick Haag and HCC strengthened their grip at the top of the Hoofdklasse table on Sunday, recording 7-wicket wins over VOC Rotterdam and Voorburg, but Excelsior ’20 lost a little ground by going down to VRA Amsterdam.
Rivals Hermes-DVS moved into clear third after taking a hard-fought battle against struggling VVV Amsterdam, while HBS Den Haag stayed just outside the top four by beating Sparta 1888 in another seven-wicket victory.
VOC were boosted by the return of Bas Zuiderent, but the most significant response to last week’s disaster against Excelsior turned out to be the promotion of former international Chris Smith into an opening spot.
Smith made the most of the extra responsibility, hitting 104 off 118 balls with six fours and five sixes and laying the foundations of a challenging total.
He and Daan van Everdingen, who was recalled to the side, put on 115 for the second wicket after the early loss of Maarten van Ierschot, Van Everdingen contributing a useful 33, and by the time Smith departed, sixth out, the score had reached 177.
Reinout van Ierschot hit a rapid not-out 40 in the closing stages and the innings ended on 243 for eight.
Henk-Jan Mol and Lesley Stokkers each took three wickets for Quick, at a cost of 41 and 35 respectively.
Quick once again demonstrated the power of their top order and its ability to chase substantial targets, however, with openers Darron Reekers and Geert Maarten Mol putting on 96 before Reekers, having made 50 off 51 balls, fell to left-armer Ernst van Giezen.
Mol was dismissed by the same bowler for 45 with the total on 130 and brother Henk-Jan soon followed, but Wes Thomas (46) and Jeroen Brand (67) saw Quick home without further loss and with four overs to spare, adding 105 in an unbroken fourth-wicket partnership.
Brand’s 67 took just 41 balls and included four fours and five sixes; it was his second not-out 60 in successive matches.
The Myburgh brothers again dominated with the bat for HCC, but the early damage at De Diepput was done by Andrew Murphy and the Jonkman twins, who took eight wickets between them as Voorburg were dismissed for 124.
Murphy finished with four for 10 in nine overs, while Maurits (two for 20) and Mark (two for 18) Jonkman did the rest.
Only Tim de Leede among the Voorburg batsmen was able to take on the HCC seamers, making an aggressive 32, although Gijs Bins and Sarfaraz Gondel showed some defiance in the lower order to get the total past the hundred.
It never seemed likely to be enough, but when HCC were 23 for three there was perhaps just a glimmer of hope.
But then Johann Myburgh joined brother Stephan at the wicket, and they knocked off the runs in double-quick time, the whole innings lasting just 14 overs. Stephan finished on 65 not out, while Johann made exactly 50.
VVV made a solid start against Hermes-DVS after winning the toss at Het Loopveld East, reaching 59 for one after 15 overs. Opener Shahrukh Akhtar top-scored with 31, but with Antonio Mullins taking four for 36 and Pieter Seelaar three for 21 for Hermes-DVS the home side were unable to capitalise, and they were all out for 163 in 45.5 overs.
Hermes began well in response, but a mid-innings collapse, led by Zishan Akram with three for 35, saw them slump to 103 for seven, and it was left to Jasper Beijer, with a not-out 38, and Pieter Seelaar (24 not out) to see them home with three wickets and four overs in hand.
It was another disappointing outcome for VVV, who for the second week in succession seemed to be in a strong position only to see their first win of the season snatched from their grasp.
A greatly-improved performance in the field by VRA enabled them to restrict Excelsior ’20 to 207 for six, and then an unbeaten stand of 189 between coach Ryan Maron and 17-year-old Kirk Wernars saw the Amsterdam side seal an emphatic eight-wicket victory.
Wernars and his compatriot, 16-year-old Michael Rippon, are two protégés of Maron’s in South Africa, and both hold Dutch passports.
But it was Adeel Raja who set Excelsior on the back foot with a fine 10-over spell of two for 19, in which he removed openers Rifaiz Bakas and Mark Cleary, and although Luuk van Troost made a solid 33 and Malik Hussain played a valuable knock of 55, the home side never found scoring easy.
Hussain and Alex Holbrook added 61 for the fifth wicket, but then Peter Borren removed them both in the same over, and it took an enterprising stand between Marcel Schewe and Adam Woutersen to get Excelsior past the 200.
Cleary and Hussain grabbed a wicket each when VRA replied, but then Maron and Werners took over and steadily worked their way towards the target, with the Excelsior attack hampered by the departure of Cleary with a back strain after bowling only six overs.
Maron’s 107 came off 125 balls, with 10 fours and two sixes, while Wernars’s 68, exhibiting great temperament on his Hoofdklasse debut, took 119 balls and included four fours and three sixes.
In Capelle-aan-der-IJssel, a fine all-round display by Mudassar Bukhari ensured that HBS did not repeat their opening-day defeat at the hands of Sparta.
Bukhari took five for 23 in just six overs, by far his best return of the season, as Sparta were dismissed for 121, with coach Shane Deitz collecting three for 26.
Only Mohammad Wasim made a significant contribution for Sparta with 48, only two other batsmen reaching double figures.
And Bukhari then hit a not-out 44 as HBS made the runs in 28 overs to complete a comfortable seven-wicket victory.
One feature of the day was the return to the Sparta side of former international Phil Keukelaar, but even his advent was insufficient to produce an improvement in the Capelle club’s fortunes.
After a promising start to the season they are now anchored near the bottom of the table, and it is only the inability of VVV to record a win which maintains their hopes of survival in the top flight.