Photo Credit: Cricket Netherlands
‘With this set-up you have to perform well all season’ A new season means new opportunities, but this time also a whole new set-up of the cricket competition. In the top and main division for the men, the main division for the women and in the T20 competition, this season is different than usual. Competition leader Bart Kroesen explains why these changes have been made.
When the season in the top class starts on April 23, the top class will have no fewer than twelve teams. This is a result of the previous season, which still had the adverse effects of the corona pandemic. Clubs then decided that, partly because travel restrictions made it difficult to get over-seas, no one would be relegated. “But they wanted to play for something in the premier league,” says Bart Kroesen. number, so that a club is free every weekend, the number 2 was also able to promote.”
And so Kampong and Salland were added. This has meant that there is no regular competition, but that the top class is divided into two groups of six. “According to the ‘snake model’, which is also widely used internationally. The numbers 1, 4, 5, 8, 9 of the top class and the number 2 of the main class are in one group, the rest in the other. The salient part is that in one group there are five of the six clubs with a grass wicket, in the other group only one.”
This arrangement was criticized. Some regret that they are not playing against three clubs this season, that derbies are not taking place, while others feel that it has become more of a tournament than a regular competition. ,,But the choice is partly based on the outcome of the investigation of the Taskforce Competition of the KNCB. With the stakes: ‘How can we make the competition more exciting?’, ‘How can we get more meaningful cricket?’ Playing against each other twice in a regular competition is too much, there is no room for that on the calendar. We are now starting earlier and finishing later, but there is no longer any stretch for extra matches, because so many clubs share the accommodation with other sports. And letting everyone play against each other once would mean that some clubs have one or two fewer home games. Is that fair? We didn’t think so. We think this is the fairest way.”
Top class setup
In the new set-up, the group members play against each other twice. The top three of both groups then go to the championship group, the bottom three play for self-preservation. Three clubs can be relegated at the bottom, because the top division will return to ten clubs next season. The bottom two are relegated directly, the number 10 plays a promotion relegation final against the champion of the major league.
In the championship group, the top four qualify for the play-off, just like last year. The numbers 1 against 2 play for direct entry to the final. The loser gets another rematch against the winner of number 3 against 4. The final is played on the field of the winner of 1 against 2. On the same day, the promotion-relegation game will also take place on the field of the number 10 of the top league.
It is striking that the clubs take part of the points from the first group stage. These are the results against opponents who ‘go along’ from the first to the second group stage. Teams therefore play six more matches (home and away) in the second group stage against the opponents they have not yet met. The tricky part is, of course, that in the first group stage as a team you don’t know who will go along. ,,So you will have to perform well throughout the year and that keeps it exciting. One of the wishes of our high performance team is for our players to play under more pressure. This format of the competition can help with that.”
Hoofdklasse and T20
Something has also changed in the main class. Due to the promotion of Salland and Kampong, the main division will consist of only eight teams next season. ,,That has ensured that we have said that the champion will not be promoted directly. Because what is the value of such a title in such a stripped-down class? The bottom club is directly relegated and the champion of the first division is promoted.”
A few things have also changed in the T20. There are now five groups of four clubs, in which three matches are played in one day and one club is free. There are four match days so that each group member organizes a cricket day. Remarkably, the 50-over competition is interrupted for a month before the T20. And as a result, the clubs no longer play on Friday until the quarter-finals, but on Saturday. Then it gets busy, as the quarter-finals weekend (which will be played on Friday) also sees the playoffs in the 50-over start. “You can say that we have an overcrowded program with top cricket.”
And then the Dutch cricket team also plays one or two ODIs, as a result of which top-class clubs miss players. For that reason, teams that feel disadvantaged due to the relinquishment of internationals have the option of moving one match to the only free weekend.
women’s big league
The women will first start with the T20 competition from May 6. Eight clubs, a composite team of Amsterdam associations and the Dutch Lionesses under 19 (the representative team that hopes to qualify for the World Cup under 19 later this year) will play against each other once. The team at the top is the champion.
The regular competition is divided into two classes. In the main division, the best four play a 40-over competition, the lower-quality four or just started teams play a 30-over competition in the first division. Here again, the highest finishing team is the champion. ,,After the competition, we will see if teams can move on from the first division to the main division. That certainly has our attention, because women’s cricket is one of the spearheads of the KNCB in addition to youth cricket.”
After this season, the leagues will probably be overhauled again to give a boost to Dutch cricket. That makes the coming season unique in several ways and one that you really shouldn’t miss.