ACC and Quick Haag: different strategies, but the same goal
Quick Haag may have had a prolonged battle on and off the field in order to retain their place in the Topklasse for 2011, but they will be determined to show that last season’s bottom placing was a brief blip in the club’s fortunes rather than an indication of permanent decline.
And ACC, who finished just above them in their second season back in the top flight, will be equally keen to improve on last year’s effort and to maintain a more sustained challenge for a place in the top four when the competition splits towards the end of July.
Like several of their rivals, both sides will be fielding new player-coaches and exchange players.
At ACC, Ryan Maron is succeeded by Titans wicketkeeper-batsman Heino Kuhn, while the club’s new exchange player will be his 20-year-old clubmate in South Africa, left-arm spinner Graeme van Buuren.
And the South African influence will be reinforced by the acquisition of international hockey star Lloyd Madsen, who is in the Netherlands playing for Amstelveen Hoofdklasse club Pinoké. A former Under-19 cricketer for KwaZulu-Natal, Madsen is the brother of Derbyshire batsman Wayne, who played against the Dutch national side a couple of weeks ago and who is likely to play again in the return fixture in Deventer on 17 May.
The batting will also be strengthened by the return of Bas van der Heijde, who spent most of last season voluntarily playing in the Second XI. A talented if sometimes inconsistent batsman, Van der Heijde could be a key factor in a middle order which frequently struggled for runs last year.
The attack will again be spearheaded by Mudassar Bukhari, and ACC will be looking to him to reproduce more of his international form with both bat and ball. He took only 14 wickets last season – nine fewer than his brother Farukh – and made 345 runs at 24.64; he is capable of match-winning performances both as a devastatingly clean hitter of the ball and as a seamer, and ACC’s chances of challenging the leading sides will depend upon him to a considerable extent.
Captain Mohsin Ghaznavi, sharing the new ball with Mudassar Bukhari, was the most economical bowler in the Topklasse last season, and he could again be an important factor in containing opposing batsmen. Other contenders for a role as a seamer include Olly Lodder, Xander Udo and left-armer Wajdan Alim, while brothers Ajit and Maninder Kamboj may get their chance to share the spin attack with Van Buuren.
Despite his experience as a keeper, Kuhn is unlikely to be the usual figure behind the stumps at ACC, a role which will go to Steven de Bruin, who made his full international debut last season. De Bruin is also a useful left-handed batsman, and when the evergreen talents of former international Zulfiqar Ahmed are added into the equation, ACC can put out a side which may well cause some surprises this year.
For Quick Haag, new coach Amol Muzumdar demonstrated during the first of the play-off matches against HBS just why he is the highest run-scorer in India’s Ranji Trophy competition, although he proved his mortality with a golden duck the following day. His elegant batting on a demanding pitch at Craeyenhout suggested, however, that he would make plenty of Topklasse runs this season.
Quick’s exchange player, 18-year-old Namibian off-spinner Pieter Groenewald, is returning a visit by the promising young James Gruijters to Windhoek over the winter, and these two may vie with Dutch A team spinner Thijs van Schelven for bowling opportunities.
There can be no doubt that the Nieuw Hanenburg club greatly missed both the incisiveness of Edgar Schiferli’s bowling and the destructive batting of Darron Reekers last year, and although Schiferli has stepped with some success into Reekers’ pinch-hitter role now that his bowling career is at an end, the seam attack remains a problem.
Jeroen Brand did pretty well opening the bowling against HBS, although he no doubt benefited from having Trent Johnston peppering the batsmen from the other end. Somesh Kohli had a disappointing 2010 season, and Quick will be hoping that he is able to regain his form of previous years, while a good deal may also depend upon the possible availability of Tim Gruijters, whose return from injury is the most pleasing good news story of the year.
That the side’s performances last year were not even more disastrous depended largely on brothers Henk-Jan and Geert Maarten Mol, either or both of whom frequently held things together with bat and/or ball. Between them they scored 692 runs and took 44 wickets – Henk-Jan was the club’s leading run-scorer, while Geert Maarten took most wickets.
But the club also has a potential trump card in wicketkeeper-batsman Stijn Allema, a valuable foil for Schiferli at the top of the innings, and will be looking for a return to form from former youth international Lesley Stokkers. With the experience of Bob van Gigch and Alex Pototsky in the middle order, Quick have the potential to make 2011 a much better year than 2010.