With almost uncanny symmetry, Excelsior’s march to the title was balanced in the 2017 Topklasse campaign by the even greater inevitability of their Schiedam neighbours Hermes-DVS’s relegation, but the teams which finished just above them in the table will also be reviewing the season with concern.

The exception should perhaps be Punjab Rotterdam, who can look back on a first Topklasse season with some degree of satisfaction.

They were, it is true, more dependent than most on their overseas players, and when Shoaib Minhas, Khurram Shahzad, Ahsan Masood and Yasir Ali had all departed the side was not a shadow of its former self.

The lack of depth among the local players and the relative absence of emerging youth bode badly for the future, but that should not detract entirely from some spirited performances this season, or from the contributions with the ball of skipper Suleiman Tariq and Haider Khan, the latter now returning to Excelsior, his old club, or the batting of Yasir Usman and Zaffar Chaudhary.

For ACC, the positive side of the story was the continuing development of the brothers Zulfiqar, not only the triplets – all three of whom are now full internationals – but also of elder sibling Rehmet, who emerged as a more than useful allrounder and was another of the younger brigade to post a first Topklasse century.

Sikander’s season was marred by an injury which prevented him from bowling even when he was fit to play, but Saqib, now captaining the side, ended the campaign in great form and finished with 765 runs at 47.81 and also made a maiden century, as did opener Asad (497 at 35.50).

These riches, and the useful contribution of overseas batsman-keeper Zakir Kathrada, were not matched by the emergence of other young players, and the team was too often dependent on the efforts of veteran all-rounder Usman Malik amd, when he pressed himself into service, Ahmed Zulfiqar senior.

The Amsterdam club still has a long way to go before its youth policy starts to bear fruit as that of Excelsior has done.

The same applies to VOC Rotterdam, fancied by some pre-season but in the end a side which struggled to live up to its potential.

They were, it is true, greatly hampered by an injury to Pieter Seelaar, sustained as they pulled off a notable victory against HCC, and the departure mid-season of former international Ahsan Malik Jamil, but their travails went further than this.

Max O’Dowd had an indifferent start to the campaign, and while he ran into good form towards the end, 308 of his 543 runs coming in his last seven innings, by then VOC were firmly rooted near the foot of the table.

Overseas player Caleb Jewell contributed some useful innings, but overall the top order lacked consistency, and this was compounded by the absence of a match-winning bowler; apart from Umar Baker’s six for 38 against Dosti United, no-one took more than three wickets in an innings.

Losing finalists in 2016, Dosti United Amsterdam knew before a ball had been bowled this season that they were going to experience a sea-change in their fortunes. And so it proved.

Without Colin Akkermann, now playing county cricket in England, Mudassar Bukhari and Ahsan Malik Jamil, the squad was obviously seriously depleted, and Dosti had to hope both that their new overseas players would fill some of the gaps and that some of their local players would make a greater contribution.

Taruwar Kohli, with 470 runs at 52.22 and 19 wickets, and Corné Dry, with 21 wickets at 18.71, both played their part, although neither was as dominant as some of Dosti’s overseas players had been in the past.

But neither skipper Vinoo Tewarie nor Rahil Ahmed was able to perform consistently with the bat, and Mohammed Hafeez, although he did make one century and equalled Dry’s tally of wickets at an average of 16.14, was a less effective match-winner than in previous years.

Here, too, the lack of a cohort of young players to follow Ahmed and Mahesh Hans is a cause for concern, and it was only the greater weakness of Hermes which saved Dosti from sinking into even deeper trouble.

For Hermes-DVS, too, the warning signs had been present before the campaign began, with only stellar seasons from Stef Myburgh and Nick Statham in 2016 keeping the side afloat and away from bottom position.

This time round, though, neither was able to recapture that form, and until Dan ter Braak began to chip in with useful innings – he finished with the most runs, 517 at 32.31 – once Myburgh and Statham had gone Hermes’ batting had little to offer.

Losing twelve matches on the trot effectively settled their fate, and although they beat HCC in mid-July and won two more games in the finishing straight, they never seemed likely to avoid the drop.

They do, however, have some promising youngsters like Olivier Elenbaas, who took 21 wickets at 22.90, and Stef Kunst, and a period of rebuilding and consolidation in the Hoofdklasse should see them return in due course to the top flight.