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Denly can’t do it all himself as North Middlesex lose at Richmond

17:34 11 August 2014

Connor Nurse bats for North Middlesex. Pic: Max Flego

Connor Nurse bats for North Middlesex. Pic: Max Flego

Max Flego Sports Photography

North Middlesex’s excellent recent run of form in the Premier Division came to an end as they were defeated at Richmond in a low-scoring encounter.

The club’s allotted Middlesex CCC professional Joe Denly led the way, hitting 81 with the bat and taking 3-38 with the ball, but the visitors suffered a four-wicket loss.

With Stanore and Finchley both winning, North Midd dropped two places and are now just one spot and four points above the drop zone.

For the umpteenth time this season captain Tom Nicoll lost a vital toss and was duly inserted on a pitch with large wet patches after heavy overnight rain.

The first loss was self-inflicted as Connor Nurse was run out for just six. And, although Denly batted solidly at one end, the rest of top order crumbled, with Michael Clements (1), Evan Flowers (2) and Adam Holmes (5) all falling in single figures, leaving the away team 34-4.

Nicoll and Denly began the recovery with a 49-run partnership before Nicoll was adjudged lbw to Jimmy Mugnaioni (4-22) at 83-5.

Joel Hughes and Denly then added 37 together but Hughes fell for four soon after lunch – and Richmond then captured the prize wicket of Denly, who was caught off Mugnaioni for 81.

When Nick Brand went for a duck, becoming Mugnaioni’s fourth victim, North Midd had slumped from 110-5 to 116-8. And, although Will Nicoll (11) offered some resistance, their innings ended on 131 in the 54th over.

Denly aside, North Midd’s batsmen had managed just 46 runs between them.

The visitors’ hopes of defending their paltry total were undermined by the fact that the pitch was drying in the sun, while Ed Bird was inhibited by an ankle injury.

However, like their visitors, Richmond suffered an early run-out and Denly then removed Joe Smith (4) and Sam Jobson (8), while Tom Nicoll brilliantly caught Andrew Lowe (4) at slip off Hughes (1-39), leaving the hosts 33-4.

When Andrew Plummer (12) was run out and Denly got a third lbw decision to dismiss Hugo Shephard (6), Richmond were in trouble at 61-6 and another North Midd victory was on the cards.

However, Alex Griffiths (40 not out) and Jack Porter (43no) steered their side home with an unbeaten partnership of 71.

Tom Nicoll said: “Losing the toss and having to bat first on a wet pitch put us at a big disadvantage, and Richmond bowled well.

“But, even so, our 131 was below par and we should have been able to give Joe Denly more support.

“Good bowling and fielding got us back into the match, and we were in with a good chance at one stage, but their seventh-wicket pair played well and took the game away from us in the end.”

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