Excelsior go through, Hermes fall as the bowlers rule
Bowlers dominated the Topklasse semi-finals on Saturday, as Excelsior ’20 recovered from a poor batting performance to beat VRA Amsterdam by 19 runs and HCC pipped Hermes-DVS at the post to win by one run off the penultimate ball and move into Sunday’s preliminary final.
At Thurlede, leaders and defending champions Excelsior were given a scare by VRA, collapsing from 60 for two to 112 for nine before an unbroken last-wicket partnership of 25 between Adam Woutersen and Haider Khan enabled them to reach 137 for nine.
The innings had started steadily enough, Tom Heggelman and the veteran Carl Schewe – the latter called up to replace player-coach Ed Cowan as an opening batsman – putting on 34 before Peter Borren secured the breakthrough by removing Heggelman.
Schewe continued solidly despite the departure of Rif Bakas, Daan van Bunge and Usman Malik at the other end for just six runs between them, and despite a tight eight-over spell from Borren in which he conceded just six runs and took two wickets, he and Luuk van Troost took the total up to 92 before Schewe was trapped in front by Adeel Raja for a 74-ball 46.
That was the cue for an Excelsior collapse against the leg-spin of Vinoo Tewarie, who claimed four wickets in eleven balls as the home side slipped to the brink of complete disaster. It took that stand between Woutersen and Khan to give their total some hint of respectability, but even so 138 must have seemed a modest target to the Amsterdammers.
Tewarie finished with four for 17, Borren two for 8, and Anthony Lynch two for 20.
Malik, Heggelman and Seb Gokke hit back hard, however, and in the space of 17 overs VRA found themselves on a desperate 36 for six, Malik doing most of the damage with an unbroken ten-over spell for figures of three for 17.
He removed Tewarie, Eric Szwarczynski and Tim Muir, while Gokke accounted for Tjade Groot (playing his first match of the season) and Emile van den Burg and Heggelman took the invaluable wicket of Borren.
Only Wesley Barresi stood firm, and in partnership first with Atse Buurman and then with Adeel Raja he battled hard to steer his side out of trouble. But in the end he, too, fell, caught and bowled by Adam Woutersen for 31, and when Anthony Lynch became the off-spinner’s second victim VRA were just one wicket away from defeat with only 84 on the board.
Another last-wicket stand, this time between Raja and Sohail Bhatti kept their hopes alive as 34 runs were added, Bhatti defying the bowlers with 19, but when Heggelman returned and trapped him in front the total was just 118 and Excelsior were into next week’s championship final by a margin of 19 runs.
Along the road at Sportpark Harga, Hermes-DVS failed by the narrowest of margins to claim a place in Sunday’s preliminary final, losing by just one run in a match which they seemed for much of the day to have firmly in their grasp.
Both sides threw away promising starts: HCC were on 112 for three at one stage, but the departure of Johann Myburgh, who had made a solid 57 when he was smartly caught at backward square by Nick Statham off the bowling of Ruud Nijman, triggered a batting collapse which saw seven wickets fall for 31 runs as HCC were dismissed for 143.
Nijman, back from injury, led the way with four for 25, and Erik Hartong, who has been Hermes’ most consistent wicket-taker throughout the season, claimed three for 27. The bowlers were backed up by a generally good performance in the field, the highlight a spectacular diving catch at mid-on by Harro Seelaar of his brother’s bowling to remove Maurits Jonkman.
When Hermes were 52 without loss in reply it seemed as if the season was coming to an end for a visibly rattled HCC side, but then Bernard Loots removed Bart Schilperoord, and five runs later Philip van den Brandeler bowled Harro Seelaar. Statham, so often the mainstay of the Hermes batting, soon followed, and suddenly the home side were on 59 for three.
Coach Greg Todd and Jasper Beijer steadied the ship with a 36-run stand, but the turning point came when Todd lashed out at a short ball from spinner Imran Nackerdien and was caught by Tom de Grooth. It was the first of three wickets for Nackerdien at a cost of 18 runs, and with Loots switching his bowlers effectively the Hermes chase began to falter.
With five overs left 18 runs were still needed and Hermes had only two wickets in hand; the next two overs produced ten runs, but then Loots returned to bowl Sebastiaan Braat, and it was left to Nils Lenstra and Ernst van Giezen to post the eight runs still required.
Two wides in the penultimate over, from Maurits Jonkman, helped the Hermes cause, and Olivier Klaus began the last with three needed. They got one of them, but then Klaus trapped Van Giezen leg-before and the stunned Hermes supporters watched as HCC celebrated a remarkable victory.
So HCC travel to Amstelveen on Sunday to battle for the right to play Excelsior next Saturday. It should be a very interesting encounter.