Saturday, April 20, 2024

Cricket Netherlands: Preview top class – Kampong, Salland CC and Dosti

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Photo Credit: Cricket Netherlands

The top class is different this year than usual. And so the highest cricket class is getting ready for a unique season. Who will qualify for the play-offs? Who will be champion? And who will be relegated? In four episodes, the twelve clubs tell what they expect from the season. In part 1: Kampong, Salland CC and Dosti.

Kampong

After 24 years, Kampong is back at the highest level. The Utrecht team took advantage of the arrangement that two major league clubs were promoted last season by stealing that last ticket from Hermes DVS. ,,It was the opportunity of our lives, because two clubs would be promoted,” says captain Usman Malik. ,,And we seized that opportunity with both hands. It was bound to happen somewhere, because three seasons ago, the last season uninterrupted by corona, we finished just behind Punjab in second.”

The Utrechters do not intend to become the laughingstock of the top class. ,,We aim to make it to the championship group, because we can finish third in our group behind Punjab and HBS. If we end up in 5th or 6th place at the end of the competition, we have done well. I think other teams will underestimate us. And that’s not bad for us. If we do end up in the relegation group, it will be a disappointment. Then it becomes a lot more difficult, because there is a lot of pressure involved.”

Kampong knows few shifts in her team. Only Adriaan Verbeek left for ACC, because traveling was too much of a burden. New at the Maarschalkerweerd sports park are Shariyar Butt (Sparta 1888), wicketkeeper-batsman Colin Briggs from New Zealand and South African Pite van Biljon. The latter is an old acquaintance, because he played for Kampong ten years ago. Malik: ,,We don’t spend that much money overseas. We prefer to bet on talents such as Pierre Jacod and Kertan Sana and give them a chance. In the last four years we have only made one overseas and that was Teja Nidamanuru (now Punjab, ed.).”

The return of Kampong has given the club a lot of positive reactions. Not least because the top class has another grass wicket richer. ,,The funny thing is that we are the only one in our group of six with a grass wicket. That is not going to be the deciding factor, because you have to be able to play on all surfaces. We have good bowlers and can field well, so we could be the surprise of the top class.”

Salland CC

The top class has a first, because Salland CC has never played in the top class. At least not since it was founded in 2005 and replaced predecessor Koninklijke UD. The people of Deventer earned that place at the highest level by winning the main division. ,,We have had a lot of good reactions to that,” says captain Victor Lubbers. ,,Many like the fact that a club from the East is finally participating at the highest level instead of all of them coming from the Randstad. clubs have also joked that they have to go ‘all the way to Deventer’.”

They are already noticing that they are an enrichment at Salland CC. ,,We are getting a lot of new members, because everyone who wants to play cricket in our region comes to Salland.”

The main force not only relies on Victor Lubbers, his brother and two cousins, but also on a contingent of German players. Talha Khan, Sri Vishnu Elam Bharathi and Sahir Naqash return to ‘t Schootsveld. And they take their compatriot Venkatraman Ganesan with them. Justin Gilliland will also join the Sallanders. In addition to being a coach, the South African is also a wicketkeeper and batsman.

Due to the arrival of Salland and Kampong, there will be played in two groups and not in a regular competition. ,,We would rather have played a regular competition, if necessary you only play against each other once. We regret that we will probably not find a nice club like HCC, but on the other hand we understand why this set-up was chosen.”

But whatever the setup it might have been, it doesn’t change the objective. “It is maintenance. We will most likely end up in the relegation group. There I expect that we will have to fight it out with clubs like Sparta 1888, ACC and Dosti. That will be difficult, because many clubs have greatly strengthened their overseas position. We can’t, because we have the lowest budget of the top class. But that does not alter the fact that we want to become an established name in the top class. And to achieve that, you don’t have to be relegated after one year.”

dosti

Dosti finished last in the top class last season. But that tenth place had no consequences because the clubs had decided that no one would be relegated. Now that the corona restrictions no longer affect cricket, the Amsterdammers hope that the way up will be taken. ,,We have to adopt a modest tone, because in the past two seasons we have only won once”, says captain Mahesh Hans. ,,That was also because due to travel restrictions we couldn’t get overseas. Still, there were plenty of opportunities to get better results, because in certain matches we were close, but we just didn’t succeed.”

To do better than the past seasons, Dosti goes back to a number of old acquaintances. The Indians Amitoze Singh and Kuldeep Diwan return to Sportpark Drieburg. Opposite this is the departure of South African Anees Davids to Rood en Wit. “With Singh and Diwan we finished fifth in the season before corona, so the overseas can make the difference for us.”

But the champion of 2015 bets much less on overseas. ,,Although I do think that there is a double standard,” says Hans. “At the time, we were said to have bought the championship, but if other teams strengthen themselves enormously, they call it a smart move. Anyway, we do.” “Now we’re also focusing more on our own players. We have six locals who have been playing together for about five or six years. It’s time for them to raise their hands and decide matches.”

And although many cricket fans think that Dosti will almost certainly end up in the relegation pool, the team from Amsterdam will not resign themselves to that in advance. “We may be in for a surprise. Qualification for the championship group would be nice. For the first time in a long time we have made good preparations and we now hope to reap the benefits. I understand that, given the results, they expect us to get into the relegation pool. If that does happen, then so be it. But then we really know what we have to do to maintain ourselves.”

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