Topklasse reaches the halfway mark
After last week’s washed-out Topklasse round the sides will be back in action this Sunday for the final games of the first half of the round-robin phase.
Two matches in particular will be crucial in determining who reaches the halfway mark in the top half of the table: Hermes-DVS Schiedam, rather surprisingly sharing the lead with ACC, take on third-placed local rivals Excelsior ’20 at Thurlede, while defending champions VRA Amsterdam, who last week retained the Twenty20 Cup with a comfortable victory over HCC, will be at home to the same opponents.
VRA are currently fourth on net run rate with HCC level on points but just outside the four, and this is likely to be an extremely hard-fought contest.
HCC’s batting continues to rely heavily on Rassie van der Dussen and Cameron Borgas, whose unbeaten partnership against Excelsior carried them into the T20 final, and VRA will be especially keen to repeat their success last Saturday in removing both for relatively small scores.
Another key factor will be how HCC’s seam attack of Logan van Beek, Reinier Bijloos, the Jonkman twins and Willem de Kempanaer deals with a VRA batting line-up which, even without Tom Cooper, sill looks extremely powerful, built around internationals Eric Szwarczynski, Wesley Barresi and Peter Borren, player-coach Barry Rhodes, and the rising stars Vinoo Tewarie and Matthijs Luten.
The Schiedam derby is always a special event, and with both sides in the top four this one seems certain to prove no exception.
If Excelsior, with defeats by Dosti Amsterdam and VRA, have not quite lived up to expectations so far their neighbours, after an opening-day loss to HCC, have certainly exceeded them, and their already impressive attack has been strengthened by the return of Erik Hartong and Ruud Nijman.
It is Hermes’ proud boast that they have built their successes on home-grown talent, and with Mark Craig out through injury and player-coach Greg Todd now the only overseas player in the side, skipper Pieter Seelaar will be relying on the experience of Nick Statham, Renzo Borrani and Jasper Beijer to make enough runs to challenge Excelsior.
The Thurlede side, on the other hand, remains a powerful outfit, with a top order which includes the explosive Stephan Myburgh, Fred Klokker and Daan van Bunge as well as overseas allrounders Brett Hampton and Rudi Hillermann, who also form one of the sharpest new-ball attacks in the competition. The match might almost be a shop window for two radically-contrasting approaches to Dutch domestic cricket.
Joint leaders ACC will travel to Den Haag to take on Quick at Nieuw Hanenburg. Having suffered their first defeat at the hands of Hermes a fortnight ago, ACC will want to finish the first round in style, while for Quick, with just one win in five games, a win is vital if they are to open up clear space ahead of bottom side VOC Rotterdam.
Injuries to Mudassar Bukhari and Zishan Akram and a suspension for Bas van der Heijde have added to ACC’s problems in the first half of the Topklasse season, and they have done well to hold their position at the top of the table, Graeme van Buuren repeatedly demonstrating just how vital he is to the side.
Quick, on the other hand, are a better team than their results so far suggest, and with Amol Muzumdar also in good form they cannot be taken lightly, especially at home. Form, however, indicates that ACC is likely to have the better of this contest.
What is true of Quick is even more true of VOC Rotterdam, anchored winless at the foot of the table and travelling to Amsterdam this Sunday to face Dosti at Sportpark Drieburg.
On paper one of the strongest attacks in the Topklasse and with a batting line-up which includes last season’s leading run-scorer Wade Townsend and former international Bas Zuiderent, it is difficult to explain why VOC have yet to record a win and are beginning to look like favourites for relegation. But they are desperately in need of a victory or two, and will not relish a visit to Drieburg, where Dosti have already beaten Excelsior and VRA.
Dosti have yet to realise their full potential, especially with the bat, where a great deal has depended on David Wiese, but they have done enough to show that they are serious candidates for a place in the play-offs, and they should have too many guns for VOC.
This week’s tips: Dosti, ACC, Excelsior, VRA.