Tailenders in the spotlight as Topklasse gets under way
Rearguard actions were the order of an eventful opening day in the Topklasse on Thursday, with several lower-order partnerships redeeming early collapses.
One of the most dramatic was at Klein Zwitserland, where HCC crumbled to 49 for six after Hermes-DVS captain Pieter Seelaar won the toss and decided to bowl first. Four of the Hagenaars’ top six failed to score, and Cameron Borgas contributed 30 of those 49 runs before he was sixth out.
HCC’s blushes were saved, however, by a seventh-wicket stand of 73 between Bart Kuipéri and Logan van Beek, and after Kuipéri departed for 38, the first of three wickets for Pieter Seelaar, Van Beek went on to make 56 and see his side through to a total of 152.
Then Reinier Bijloos ran through the Hermes top order, claiming five for 29 in an unbroken spell as Hermes in their turn collapsed to 41 for seven. This time there was no comeback, though, as Van Beek cleaned up with three for 19.
Nick Statham (15) and Borg Lenstra (13 not out) were the only Hermes batsmen to reach double figures, while there were four catches for HCC’s 18-year-old wicketkeeper Werner Erkelens.
At Het Loopveld West in Amstelveen, Dosti Amsterdam were also in early trouble after electing to bat first against ACC, with Mudassar Bukhari taking three wickets for 13 in an impressive opening spell as the visitors slumped to 55 for six.
It was, however, one of the debutant Zulfiqar triplets, Saqib, who started the rot in the opening over, producing a sharp piece of fielding to run out Vimal Tewarie.
Then another 18-year-old wicketkeeper, Rahil Ahmed, set about restoring the situation in partnership with the experienced Mohammad Hafeez, and these two added 75 for the seventh wicket before Ahmed, on 42, skied a return catch to Bukhari.
Hafeez went on to 51 before being brilliantly caught at deep mid-off by Anton Roux, and Victor Grandia and skipper Shafiek Panchu contributed 21 precious runs in a last-wicket stand which got the Dosti total up to 165.
Steven de Bruin and Rehan Younis got ACC off to a solid start with an opening partnership of 41, but with Sridharan Sriram taking two for 22 in his ten overs Dosti’s hopes rose when they had the home side on 46 for three.
A match which had been extremely competitive from the outset threatened to get out of hand as the tension rose, and after a heated exchange of words between Dosti player-coach David Wiese and Bukhari the umpires left the field, calling the captains together for a discussion in which the Spirit of Cricket is likely to have been the principal topic.
Things calmed down after that, and in company with Bas van der Heijde Bukhari proceeded to add 96 for the fourth wicket, taking the side to within sight of victory before Van der Heijde, on 31, was surprised by a very good bouncer from Grandia and could only parry a return catch. Bukhari was batting with uncharacteristic caution, but as the target grew closer he began to hit out, ending the game with a flurry of boundaries and finishing with an excellent undefeated 76.
The pattern of lower-order recoveries was also in evidence at Thurlede, where home side Excelsior ’20 were on 98 for seven at one stage against Quick Haag but managed to reach 181 thanks to a defiant 43-ball innings of 51 by Marcel Schewe, who was supported in a ninth-wicket stand of 64 by fellow-veteran Sebastiaan Gokke.
Earlier, Joost Kroesen had done his best to hold the top order together with a patient 27, while it was the brothers Mol who did most of the damage for Quick, Geert Maarten claiming three for 46 and skipper Henk-Jan three for 37.
Sure enough, Quick followed suit, slumping to 77 for eight despite 36 from player-coach Amol Muzumdar, and it appeared that Excelsior were on course for a comfortable victory.
It took another of the promising crop of 18-year-olds, James Gruijters, to keep Quick in the game, as he and Thijs van Schelven defied the Excelsior attack in a ninth-wicket stand of 64. But experience had the last word, as former international captain Luuk van Troost, with more than 450 top-flight matches behind him, came on to remove first Van Schelven for 37 and then Gruijters for 47 to finish with two for 6 from 13 deliveries and see Excelsior to a 26-run victory.
The highest-scoring match of the day was at the Hazelaarweg in Rotterdam, where defending champions VRA Amsterdam made 250 for nine against VOC Rotterdam, thanks to 63 from Atse Buurman and an unbeaten 35 from player-coach Barry Rhodes.
Daan van Everdingen got VOC away to an excellent start in reply with a splendid 86, but then wickets began to tumble and the home side fell behind the required rate. Timm van der Gugten hit 43 not out, but he ran out of partners in the final over with the Rotterdammers still 29 runs short of their target. Tom Cooper was the most successful of VRA’s bowlers with three for 36.