Bowlers in charge in a soggy Topklasse
After more rain during the week Thursday’s Ascension Day matches were all low-scoring affairs, with the bowlers generally in charge and no side posting more than 150. In contrast with the three centuries last Sunday, only two players managed to reach even the fifty mark.
Moreover, the rain almost washed out one match altogether, since the pitch at Klein Zwitserland, where HCC were ‘at home’ to Excelsior ’20, had been left uncovered for much of the week, and was so wet that the start was delayed until 15:30. Even then, conditions were less than ideal, but the spectators’ patience was rewarded with a tense 30-over match which the visitors won with four balls to spare.
After winning the toss and electing to bat, HCC almost managed to set the highest target of the day despite the reduction in overs, but their total of 141 was the result of a somewhat stuttering performance, with opener Tom de Grooth top-scoring with 27. The best partnership of the innings, in fact, was a stand of 40 for the eighth wicket between Maurits Jonkman and Bernard Loots, which got their side up to a decent score.
Medium-pacer Haider Khan took three for 12 for Excelsior and Daan van Bunge three for 25 with his leg breaks, while there were two wickets for young Joost Kroesen, another leg-spinner.
The defending champions soon lost Tom Heggelman when they replied, and although Ed Cowan and Martijn van Gelderen put on 53 for the second wicket it took them fifteen overs to do so, HCC’s seam quartet of Mark and Maurits Jonkman, Loots and Philip van den Brandeler all bowling hostile spells to keep the batsmen in check.
When Van den Brandeler had Cowan caught behind to make it 61 for three the home side seemed to have the edge, but Van Bunge and Usman Malik raised the tempo with some fine hitting and sensible running – mixed with a certain degree of good fortune and some indifferent fielding – and although the required rate drifted up to eight an over at one stage, by the time Johan Myburgh began the final over only five were needed.
Van Bunge took a single off the first ball, and then Malik produced a magnificently improvised reverse slog-sweep to put the second over the cover boundary and give Excelsior the points.
In Schiedam, Hermes-DVS’s match against ACC also went into the final over, as the home side made heavy weather of chasing a modest target of 143.
ACC’s top order collapsed early on, but Ryan Maron (38) and Rizwan Akram built a fourth-wicket partnership which gave some respectability to the score, and then Farukh Bukhari contributed a valuable not-out 34 towards the end as the Amsterdammers reached 142 for nine. Ruud Nijman, returning from a shoulder injury, had the best figures with three for 16.
It was Nick Statham who again held the Hermes innings together, adding an undefeated 77 to his century on Sunday, and with some support from Bart Schilperoord and Pieter Seelaar he stayed to the end, the winning runs coming from the first ball of the final over with just two wickets in hand.
Nowhere was the domination of the bowlers more complete than in Amstelveen, where VRA’s powerful batting line-up was demolished by Rood en Wit’s attack, player-coach Enoch Nkwe claiming five for 28. Only Tom Cooper stood firm, making 42 as VRA were bowled out for 148.
But this proved to be plenty, as the Haarlem side were soon reduced to 42 for five in their turn, and were eventually dismissed for 81 in just 30.2 overs, Nkwe completing a fine double with 33. Three spinners did the damage for VRA: Adeel Raja took three for 25, coach Tim Muir three for 16, and leg-spinner Vinoo Tewarie finished with the remarkable figures of three for 3.
The easiest win of the day was VOC Rotterdam’s against Quick Haag at Hazerlaarweg: despite a dogged 47 from coach Jono Boult, Quick could only manage 120 in 47 overs, skipper Henk Mol (18) the only other batsman to reach double figures. VOC’s exchange player Joe Carroll was again among the wickets with five for 22.
With Jelte Schoonheim drafted into the pinch-hitter role, he and Michael Dighton put on a brisk 53 when VOC replied, Schoonheim making 41 of them from 38 deliveries, and then Dighton and Bas Zuiderent saw their side home without further loss. Dighton finished with 55 not out as VOC won in the 22nd over; his good form, along with that of Statham and Cooper, will give encouragement to national coach Peter Drinnen as his squad sets out on their CB40 adventure.