Bertus de Jong
Jersey's two match series against Netherlands A at Amstelveen over the weekend saw both sides pick up a win. The Dutch struck first, sealing a 3-wicket win on a bitingly cold Saturday afternoon, but the teams fortunes prove as changeable as the weather as Jersey struck back the following day in glorious sunshine to thrash their hosts by 8 wickets with 15 overs to spare.
Jersey managed 168 fom their 45 overs on Saturdays slightly abbreviated match after being invited to bat. Nat Watkins provided the innings a solid foundation as he built partnerships with skipper Peter Gough and Ben Stevens to take the visitors to 79-1, but the introduction of spin in the middle overs would turn the momentum, Mahesh Hans and Leon Turmaine strangling the scoring and Hans eventually finding reward as Stevens came down the wicket looking to hit out only to chip a simple return catch to the offspinner.
The pressure continued to build on the Jersey batsmen and Hans profitted twice more, trapping Cory Bodenstein in from for six before Watkins holed out to Gunning at deep square leg for 42. Jersey were unable to find the accelerator thereafter, Bisson and Hawkins-Kay both getting starts before getting out as they looked to force the pace, and despite a few chances going begging the Dutch managed to hold their guests to a slightly sub-par 168-7 at the break.
Openers Rahil Ahmed and Tim Etman got the hosts off to a steady start, putting on 20 in the first five overs before a well directed bouncer from Kay snuck through Etman's grill, forcing him to retire hurt with a gash over the eye. Ahmed pressed on with Saqib Zulfiqar however, the pair taking the Dutch past 50 in the 14th over.
Jersey finally found the breakthrough in the 16th, as Stevens found Ahmed's stumps to end an attractive innings of 25. Again the introduction of spin worked to good effect and the run rate began to slow, and the pressure would do for Zulfiqar, who saw stumped off Palmer on the sweep, before the returning Etman was likewise stranded down the track off a leg-side wide from Watkins.
Van de Burg and Myburgh followed in short order as the innings began to drift, and when Watkins struck twice in succession to remove Overdijk and Turmaine, adding figures of 4-34 to his top-scoring 42, Jersey looked well on top. By the time Quirijn Gunning joined last recognised bat Tim Gruijters in the middle at 127-7 the asking rate was close to five an over and the Dutch looked to be slouching toward defeat.
Gunning's arrival at the crease seemed to change the tone of the match entirely however. Picking gaps and running hard, Gunning shifted the pressure back onto the fielding side, and as runs began to flow misfields and mistakes proliferated. Despite hitting just one boundary, Gunning rattled off 23 runs in 19 balls, forcing the pace of the match-winning 42 run partnership with Gruijters and seeing the Dutch home with two overs to spare.
Jersey would strike back on the following day however, looking dominant practically throughout the days proceedings. Bowling first by agreement, Ben Kynman struck early, removing Ahmed for 1 in the 2nd over. Etman and Zulfiqar recovered well however, and as they constructed a 56 run partnership for the next wicket things were looking rosy for the hosts.
It was Watkins who found the breakthrough, having Etman caught at wide mid on, bringing Peter Borren to the crease. A steady 20 run partnership with Zulfiqar was cut short for the Dutch skipper however, as some miscomunication and alert fielding saw him run out for 14. The wheels came off entirely after the loss of Borren as the Dutch collapsed from 83-2 to 110-8, Perchard the pick of an excellent display, taking 2 for just 15 in his ten overs.
Again it fell to Gunning to stop the rot. Together with Vivian Kingma, Gunning batted with initial circumspection, seeing off ten dots balls before opening his account. Runs eventually came however, and the pair put on 31 for the 9th wicket, with Gunning dominating the scoring. Gunning's rear-guard innings of 42 from 76 was eventually brought to an end by Perchard with the total on 141, and Kingma managed to add another 9 for the 10th as Mahhesh Hans kept him company. Hans eventually gave into temptation and charged down the wicket to Stevens, and a smart stumping closed the innings on 150.
That never looked even close to defensible, despite Hidde Overdijk claiming Watkin's wicket caught-and-bowled in the fourth over, Jersey never looked troubled. A 111-run partnership between Gough and Stevens effectively finished the game, Saqib Zulfiqar the only other bowler to take a wicket when he eventually had Stevens caught at point to end an increasingly brutal innings of 64 that included five 4s and three 6s.
Despite some disciplined bowling and a decent effort in the field, albeit one that saw its share of dropped chances, the Dutch never looked like containing the visitors, Gough and Jonty Jenner finishing things off with 14.5 overs to spare.
Netherlands A will be in action again when they tour Essex in mid-July, though several of the players will likely feature in the KNCB XI that takes on Vanuatu on the 10th and 12th of this month, and in the Pro-Series games later in the month, in what is a fairly busy development-level schedule.
Jersey will return home on a high to continue their preparations for WCL Division 5, which they host from 21-28 May. The tournament will be covered live on CricketEurope.