Greg Todd treble the highlight of a dramatic Topklasse round
There are times when one might be forgiven for thinking that the Dutch Topklasse should be renamed the Topsyturvyklasse. Saturday was one of those times, as three of the bottom four beat their higher-placed opponents, and VOC Rotterdam came pretty close to making it a clean sweep before finally succumbing to Dosti Amsterdam by just 17 runs.
That win took Dosti into second place, just ahead of defending champions VRA Amsterdam, who lost another hard-fought game to HCC by two wickets and who will now have to win three matches on the trot if they are to claim the title for a third consecutive year.
Dosti’s total of 181 was largely due to a patient innings of 65 from opener Mohammad Wasim, and a typically breezy 45 from Amit Uniyal, who faced 43 deliveries and hit four fours and two sixes. Dirk van Baren and Simon Newport claimed three wickets apiece for the Rotterdammers, at a cost of 32 and 31 runs respectively.
VOC had a fighting chance as long as player-coach Cameron Delport was at the crease, but once he was fifth out for a 59-ball 61 with 129 on the board the battle became too great, and with David Wiese and Mohammad Hafeez also picking up three wickets each (for 25 and 15) the Rotterdam side were all out for 164.
The defeat effectively put an end to VOC’s hopes of staying in the Topklasse, since Quick Haag, who had lost to the bottom side the previous Saturday, now beat leaders ACC to give themselves a six-point margin with a much better net run rate with three matches to play.
Edgar Schiferli again got Quick off to a brisk start with a rapid 29, his fellow-opener James Gruijters contributed 38, and then Henk-Jan Mol again proved a rock in the middle order, making an unbeaten 63 – and taking his top-flight aggregate past 6000 runs – as the visitors ran up a solid total of 214 for six.
Schiferli and Tim Gruijters struck early when ACC replied, but Ollie Lodder made 43, and then Mudassar Bukhari and François Le Clus put on 71 for the fifth wicket before Bukhari was trapped in front by Schiferli for 53.
Le Clus continued despite the steady loss of wickets at the other end, and only 11 were needed with two wickets in hand when the South African player-coach lashed out at Thijs van Schelven and was caught for 57 by Geert Maarten Mol. Five more were added by the last pair, but when Henk-Jan Mol had Maninder Kamboj stumped off the second ball of the final over Quick had won a thrilling game by just five runs.
There was tension, too, at De Diepput, where home side HCC dismissed VRA for 162 and then appeared to be in the box seat at 106 for two with plenty of overs left.
Rashid Lewis (two for 26) and Maurits Jonkman (two for 18) were the pick of the HCC bowlers, while Victor Lubbers batted well early on for the champions and Peter Borren top-scored with 31. Matthijs Luten was unbeaten on 23, but eventually ran out of partners.
Tom de Grooth led off HCC’s reply with a 36-ball 46, including eight boundaries, and stand-in keeper Bart Kuipéri, who had earlier taken four catches in the VRA innings, supported Logan van Beek with a dogged knock of 16 which saw the total up past the hundred.
But then another HCC middle-order collapse, engineered by Australian-born Greek international George Toulantas with four for 28, brought VRA back into the game.
Van Beek stood firm, however, and his 65 saw the Hagenaars home in the 44th over, with two wickets in hand.
There have been many great matches between Hermes-DVS and Excelsior ’20, the two Schiedam sides whose rivalry is one of the mainstays of Dutch cricket, but few can have been as momentous as the one on Saturday, even though it had no effect on the outcome of the championship, and there can have been few individual performances as outstanding as that of Hermes player-coach Greg Todd.
Not content with making 120 in his side’s total of 271 for five, Todd proceeded to take five for 19 in nine overs, and that included a hat-trick – the victims being Fred Klokker, Daan van Bunge, and Brett Hampton. It seems certain that that is an unprecedented treble, and one that is unlikely to be repeated any time soon.
Remarkable as that was, it was not the only feature of an extraordinary game. Hermes captain Pieter Seelaar smashed a 29-ball 67 not out, including six fours and four sixes, as the home side plundered 103 runs off their final ten overs.
And then Excelsior player-coach Rudi Hillermann replied with a defiant 107 as his side fought back, reaching 158 for two with 20 overs left. But Todd’s hat-trick swung the match back Hermes’ way, and with Renzo Borrani taking five for 47 at the other end Excelsior were eventually dismissed for 236, giving Hermes a 35-run victory.