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North Midd leapfrog Hampstead after fightback at Shepherd’s Bush

21 June, 2018

NORTH Middlesex have moved joint second in the top flight of the Middlesex County Cricket League after staging an unlikely fightback at Shepherd’s Bush on Saturday.

The home side made a good start at the New Ground, with openers Jack Brydon and Robbie Watts putting 39 runs on the board before Brydon was bowled by North Midd captain Joel Hughes.

Watts went on to make 47, but it was the partnership between captain Andrew Wilson (50 runs) and Idris Otto-Mian (75) that really turned the game into a contest as Shepherd’s Bush scored 255 off 64.3 overs before surrendering their final wicket.

In truth a target of 256 wasn’t the most daunting of chases for the visitors. But it was one that North Midd looked like they had blown after Stephen Barnard tore through their top order. The Shepherd’s Bush bowler removed opener Charlie MacLeod (2), Evan Flowers (26), James Parslow (2) and Joe Cracknell (0) in a commanding 13-over spell that saw him finish with on 4-35.

With Hollman also being bowled by Dexter Marsh for naught, Hughes’s side looked dead and buried on 58-5.

That’s when Alex MacQueen and Nicoll joined forces to save the day. MacQueen smashed 118 off 133 balls, including 13 fours and five sixes, while Nicoll averaged a run a ball as he hit 88 to drive North Midd to 258-5, and seal what had seemed an impossible five-wicket victory.

The result leaves them level with Ealing on 43 points, and 20 points behind leaders Richmond. It also saw North Midd leapfrog neighbouring rivals Hampstead, who are dropping down the table after back-to-back defeats.

After losing by two wickets at home to Twickenham last time out, the side from NW3 had the perfect opportunity to showcase their title credentials on Saturday when they travelled to Old Deer Park to challenge Richmond.

Steve Clark gave Hampstead a solid platform to build on as he scored 109 off 146 balls.

With Mubasher Hassan chipping in with a well-crafted 73, and skipper Liam Hughes scoring a half-century, Hampstead set Richmond a testing target as they were bowled out for 332.

But when you have a talented batsman like William Phillips in your team, 332 simply isn’t testing enough, it seems.

The Richmond opener scored 153 not out off just 171 balls to lead his team to 336-8 and seal a narrow two-wicket victory.

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