VOC take on Excelsior in T20 match of the day
Two of the four sides which sat out last week’s opening round of Twenty20 Cup matches will enter the fray on Saturday, and their encounter may turn out to be among the hardest-fought of the competition.
With the national squad away in England on Sunday on CB40 business the top domestic games have been brought forward this weekend, and the starting times have also been adjusted to allow for the possibility of poor light and rain delays at this early stage of the season.
Potentially the most absorbing fixture is the Group B clash between Excelsior ’20 Schiedam and VOC Rotterdam at Thurlede, starting at 12:30.
The Rotterdammers’ pace attack of Timm van der Gugten, Ashan Malik Jamil, Dirk van Baren and Bobby Hanif will face a major challenge from an Excelsior batting line-up which includes Stephan Myburgh, Fred Klokker, Daan van Bunge and new player-coach Rudi Hillermann, while conversely Hillermann, Brett Hampton and Tom Heggelman will take on a VOC top order which will feature Wade Townsend, a returning Bas Zuiderent, and the hitting power of Jelte Schoonheim and Sherry Butt.
In Group A, the scheduled match between HCC and Dosti Amsterdam, originally scheduled for Saturday, has reportedly been moved to 26 May, and the key game this week will therefore be the clash between Rood en Wit Haarlem and VRA Amsterdam, both of whom beat ACC last Sunday, who meet at the Spanjaardslaan, also starting at 12:30.
Title-holders VRA demonstrated their all-round strength against ACC, new player-coach Barry Rhodes smashing an undefeated 49, and the home side will need to be at their absolute best if they are to prevail against their star-studded visitors. After missing the latter part of last season through injury, Sohail Bhatti is back sharing the new ball with Berend Westdijk, while Rhodes is a valuable addition to a batting line-up led by internationals Eric Szwarczynski, Peter Borren, Tom Cooper and Wesley Barresi.
Rood en Wit will be more confident, however, when they take on neighbours Bloemendaal in the later match, with a 4 o’clock start. This is one of the Netherlands’ traditional derbies, but with players like Shahbaz Bashir, Peter Fulton and Paul van Meekeren in their side, Rood en Wit should have the edge over Bloemendaal, who lost heavily to Voorburg last week before pulling off a win against Kampong Utrecht.
With that win under their belts Voorburg will take on ACC and Kampong at Westvliet on Saturday, the matches starting at 12:30 and 16:00 respectively.
ACC will be strengthened by the arrival of their South African stars Graeme van Buuren and François le Clus, and they are likely to prove a handful for a Voorburg side which is spearheaded by player-coach Bronson Meehan and which also includes two other overseas players in Campbell Thomas and Steve Marillier.
Another interesting match is therefore in prospect with the Amsterdam side determined to get back into a winning groove, but Kampong will need to do much better with the bat than they did against Bloemendaal if they are to claim their first points against a Voorburg side which seems likely to be among the strongest teams in the Hoofdklasse this season.
The two double-headers in Group B will be hosted by Sparta 1888 and competition new boys FC Amsterdam United.
Sparta 1888 will entertain Quick Haag and Punjab Rotterdam at De Couwenhoek, since their new ground at the Schollebos is not yet ready for action, once again starting at 12:30 and 16:00. After losing to Hermes-DVS Falcons last Sunday, the Capelle side will face another tough Topklasse challenge from Quick, who also succumbed to the Falcons and will be keen to compensate with a strong performance here.
Luqman Tariq and Hitesh Pawa were the only Sparta batsmen to reach double figures against Hermes, and they will need to improve considerably if they are to trouble a Quick outfit which has plenty of experience at the top level with both bat and ball.
Punjab, on the other hand, had a mixed day last week, beating Amsterdam United but then losing to a HBS side for whom Shane Deitz’s five for 32 proved the decisive factor. The Rotterdammers have plenty of hard-hitting batsmen, and their clash with Sparta may turn out to be one of the more entertaining matches of the day.
Hermes-DVS Falcons, the only side to win twice last week, will travel to Sportpark Strandvliet for the early match against FC Amsterdam United. On a day of generally low totals, the Amsterdam side set a challenging total of 141 through a solid team effort, only to see Punjab reach their target with two wickets in hand.
Hermes will start as clear favourites, with their two New Zealanders, Greg Todd and Mark Craig, having been among the runs last week and Sebastiaan Braat and Pieter Seelaar having picked up three-wicket hauls, and Amsterdam United also won’t have it easy against HBS Den Haag in the later match.
Apart from Deitz, the Hagenaars have player-coach Bradley Barnes (who had a quiet debut against Punjab) and a good range of experience and youth among their home-grown players, and they could be among Voorburg’s main rivals when the Hoofdklasse finally gets under way.