With the opening games of the Topklasse just a week away and rumours flying, a quick look at probable and possible signings and transfers ahead of the 2016 season.
Probably the biggest confirmed news is defending champions Dosti-United securing the services of South Africa international Stiaan van Zyl. Statistics enthusiasts will know van Zyl as the 100th batsman to score a century on Test debut (against the West Indies at Centurion in December 2014), whilst frequenters of Reddit's /r/cricket board will be familiar with the left-handed opener for the fanatical cult following he enjoys on the forum. Also adding some useful medium pace to the roster, the acquisition of van Zyl is an eye-catching coup even by Dosti's standards.
The title holders will likely be without Dwaine Pretorius however, whose memorable onslaught in the first of the best-of-three finals did much to secure Dosti's maiden Topklasse title. Replacing him will be Dolphin's bowling all-rounder Robbie Frylink. Seen as something of a T20 specialist, Frylinck brings a reputation for big hitting and canny right-arm pace with him to Amsterdam.
Also joining Dosti is Dutch international Ahsan Malik, lured away from VOC. Malik has a tough year behind him, coming back from international suspension with a remodelled action after the legality of his sly medium pace variation was questioned at the WT20 Quaifier last summer, but securing VOC's erstwhile captain promises to be as much a boon for Dosti as it is a blow to VOC.
Colin Ackermann's return is likely but as yet unconfirmed, and it is currently an open question as to open whether former national team stalwart Micky Swart might be tempted back to the Netherlands to turn out for the champs.
Still more uncertainty surrounds the roster for last season's runners-up Quick Haag. The club has seen something of an exodus over the winter, with both Viv and Phil Kingma returning to VCC, and Farshad Khan departing for HBS, and James Gruijters turning out for Broxbourne in the UK.
Quick's 2015 coach and Topklasse lead wicket-taker Steve Smidt will not be back, but Northerns' fast-bowling all-rounder Ryan Cartwright comes in as a replacement, with fellow South African Stephen Kriel, 19 year-old batsman, joining as their second overseas player.
Edgar Schiferli and Henk Mol will at least start the season in retirement, though an unexpected return for either cannot be entirely ruled out. The prodigal Lesley Stokkers will at least certainly be returning to Nieuw Hanenburg following his brief sojourn at Hermes, and one of the more remarkable (if not the most believable) of rumours currently circulating is the putative return of the long-lost Stijn Allema to top-cricket.
ACC have also seen a couple of high-profile departures during the off season, with internationals Roelof van der Merwe and Paul van Meekeren heading across the North Sea, to Somerset and Benwell Hill CC respectively.
Juan-Pierre de Villiers comes in as new player-coach, continuing the trend of fast-bowling acquisitions among Topklasse clubs, and keeper-bat and fellow Titan Mangaliso Mosehle is back for another season at het Loopveld.
Contrary to persistent speculation, it seems ACC won't be losing any of the Zulfiqar brothers, despite rumours of one or more heading to VOC, so with the above exception, the ACC line-up looks pretty similar to last season.
Not so VOC Rotterdam who have seen a series of departures over the winter. The evergreen Amol Muzumdar will sadly not be returning to the Netherlands this season, leaving a substantial gap in the VOC batting order. As well as losing skipper Ahsan Malik to Dosti, VOC will also be without both Tim de Kok and Jochem Steenbergen, both of whom are headed to Sparta.
A couple of young imports in Riley May from Australia and Curt Oliver of South Africa, who have turned out for Northern Territories and Boland at age group level. At least one further addition is expected, an as yet unidentified South African player-coach, whose arrival is understood to be delayed by visa issues.
The overall impression is that Dosti are pulling even further ahead of the pack, with the rest of last season's top three looking weaker, with the possible exception of ACC. Stay tuned for part 2, where we'll look at the bottom half of last season's table, as well as the newly-promoted HCC.
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