[by Rod Lyall & Bertus de Jong, TKcricket] With four rounds of matches in the space of twelve days, starting with Thursday’s Ascension Day holiday, the Topklasse moves into its traditional burst of intensity which could have a key role in determining the ultimate shape of the table. (Redactie: TKc's Round 5 previews other matches here, Round 6 here).
Previews TKCricket ACC-Sparta donderdag
RL: ACC return to Het Loopveld for a match against Sparta 1888 which should give them an early opportunity to make amends for last Saturday’s defeat. Their surprise win over Excelsior apart, Sparta have been far from impressive so far, and it has been the efforts of Max Hoornweg, with 14 wickets at 12.36, which have been their most significant plus point. Andrew Fletcher’s battle to adapt to Dutch conditions (which has yielded him just 50 runs in four innings) must be a genuine source of concern at the Bermweg, but he is too good a player for this to continue for long. Even while losing to Excelsior the Amsterdammers did enough to confirm that their position at the top was no flash in the pan: they have a varied attack, and although their top order was hustled out in short order, the Zulfiqar brothers and Shirase Rasool (a modified re-formation of last season’s popular folk group) are unlikely to succumb so easily a second time.
BdJ: As some predicted, ACC’s run of wins came to an end at first sight of a turf wicket, and doubtless the Amsterdammers will be happy to feel the familiar mat under their feet again on Thursday. Their new acquisitions in Jean Marais and especially Brady Barends have proven shrewd ones, though it is the marked improvement of youngsters Rasoole and Kumar that has done the most to lift ACC stocks this season. That said, one has the feeling that Sparta’s best cricket is yet to come, and they have looked competitive across most of their games even as their overseas failed to really fire. It is reasonable to assume that at some stage the performance of Fletcher especially is bound to revert to the mean, and there’s no reason Thursday shouldn’t be the day. And given that I’ve called every single ACC match wrong so far, they’ll doubtless be delighted to hear that I’m picking Sparta to spring an upset at het Loopveld.
(Rod Lyall’s tip: ACC. Bertus de Jong’s tip: Sparta)
Previews TKcricket ACC-VOC zaterdag
BdJ: In the round’s final match 2018 champions VOC Rotterdam head to Het Loopveld to take on ACC, looking understrength and undercooked. The Rotterdammers picked up their first win last week against a stuttering Voorburg, though they managed to make a meal of a modest target, losing 7 wickets chasing just 136. The addition of Belgian internationals Noman Kamawi and Ashiqullah Said has gone some way to plugging the hole left in the bowling by the loss of Fred Klaassen and Umar Baker, but they can no longer rely on regularly restricting opponents to sub-200 scores as they did last season. As such more pressure will fall on the top order, which to date has failed to really deliver. Coming up against an ACC side which, despite suffering its first reversal on Saturday, looks to be stronger than ever, VOC will need to find a new winning formula and fast.
RL: Cricket is a game of character, and both these sides have something to prove. ACC will need to bounce back quickly from last Saturday’s reversal, and by the time they toss at Het Loopveld this week we’ll know whether they’ve been able to do so (as by any measure they can be expected to) against Sparta on Thursday. VOC’s issues are on a larger scale: their personnel changes are more substantial than most other teams’, and they need to string together a series of improved performances to avoid the indignity of going from champions one season to relegation contenders the next. Even with their losses they have enough quality in their side to claim a mid-table position, but they need internationals Max O’Dowd, Scott Edwards and Pieter Seelaar to create a solid core in their batting line-up, providing their diminished attack with greater cover.
(Bertus de Jong’s tip: ACC. Rod Lyall’s tip: ACC)