HCC, VOC pull out of Topklasse play-offs

It comes after unsavoury incidents during the league season in the Netherlands, and opens the door for three competition rivals to claim Topklasse silverware.

VOC Topklasse
VOC Topklasse

The already extraordinary sequence of events around the Dutch Topklasse play-offs took another bizarre twist on Thursday when the clubs at the centre of the dispute, HCC and VOC Rotterdam, jointly decided to withdraw.

This means that the proposed replay of the last league phase match between the two clubs is no longer necessary, and the way is clear for the remaining sides – Punjab Rotterdam, Voorburg and VRA Amsterdam – to play off for the title.

Punjab will now meet Voorburg in a semi-final this Sunday, with the loser due to play VRA on Saturday, 4 September. The winner of the latter match will then take on the winner of the former in the championship final on Sunday, 5 September.

The joint decision by HCC and VOC to pull out of the play-offs is evidently aimed at ending the acrimony which has enveloped the final phase of the competition since HCC walked off during their last league match on 15 August.

That decision, triggered by an allegedly racist remark made by a VOC player to the wicketkeeper of HCC, has led to a series of claims and counter-claims, including an order by the KNCB Appeals Committee overturning a Board resolution to award the points from the game to VOC.

Both clubs have clearly now decided that the damage the dispute has been doing to Dutch cricket has to end.

In a statement announcing its decision the HCC Board said:

As a club we have a number of norms and values. The turmoil which has come to exist around the match against VOC leads us to withdraw from further participation in the play-offs. By doing this we hope that peace will return to cricket.

We wish to emphasise that we find it very important to maintain friendly and sporting relationships with all clubs, and we hope that by taking this step we can show our true intentions . . . This means that for HCC 1 the season has come to an end. An unexpected and disappointing end, but in view of recent developments the best possible outcome. We are looking ahead, and in 2022 will again be aiming to contest the top positions. That HCC 1 has been near the top this season is a terrific performance in the absence of an overseas coach.

The VOC Board said in its statement:

VOC and HCC have consulted together about the situation around their abandoned match. This was desirable and necessary because it became clear this week that the replay scheduled for 22 August 2021 was not properly arranged under the regulations.

With good co-operation – and taking into account the interests of Dutch cricket – VOC and HCC have jointly decided to withdraw from potential participation in the play-offs. That means that it is no longer necessary to rearrange the abandoned match. This gives room to the KNCB and the clubs concerned to begin the play-offs on Sunday 29 August.

The joint decision will also give the KNCB, the two clubs directly affected, and indeed all Dutch cricket clubs room to reflect on the circumstances which led to this regrettable sequence of events, the underlying causes, and the measures which need to be taken to prevent any recurrence.

This process should certainly include, but not necessarily be limited to, the priorities of the clubs in their approach to the game, the rules controlling the Dutch competitions and the role of the umpires, and the deeper problems facing the multicultural sport which Dutch cricket has become.

In the meantime, while regretting that it should have been necessary, Dutch cricket-lovers will be rightly grateful to VOC and HCC for cutting through the Gordian knot which had formed around the Topklasse play-offs, threatening to strangle them completely.

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