North Middlesex continue their remarkable rise after overcoming Twickenham
15:12 04 August 2014
Max Flego Sports Photography
North Middlesex’s remarkable rise up the table continued as a strong all-round display produced a convincing 106-run victory over high-flying Twickenham.
North Midd are making their first appearance in the top flight for 16 years and they initially struggled, taking just seven points from their first eight games and finding themselves in the relegation zone – but they have now collected 44 from a possible 50 and jumped up to fifth place.
A 132-run partnership between captain Tom Nicoll (89) and Joe Hewton (62) helped the hosts to set a target of 279, and Joel Hughes and Middlesex CCC man Joe Denly – who was making his first appearance for North Midd – then took three wickets apiece as Twickenham were dismissed for 172.
Nicoll said: “It was great to have Joe Denly turning out for us, and all in all this was another very satisfying win.
“Our early-season struggles seem a long time ago and, having picked up 44 points from the last five matches, confidence is high.
“We are very aware of how tight the league table is though, and will keep pushing hard to secure our place for next season.”
North Midd were asked to bat and opener Denly made 16 before being trapped lbw by fellow Middlesex man Gurjit Sandhu (4-43).
Connor Nurse and Michael Clements took the score on 65-1 at the drinks break, but Nurse (32) fell immediately after the resumption and Evan Flowers (4) soon followed, leaving the hosts 70-3 in the 21st over.
Clements and Hewton added 32 together before the former was dismissed by the league’s leading wicket-taker Parminder Singh (2-61) - but it was the partnership between Nicoll and Hewton that really did the damage.
The pair took North Midd to 234-4 before Hewton (62) was caught off Sandhu, swiftly followed by Joel Hughes (1).
The hosts went for the jugular as they eyed a declaration and John Mills (13) and Nick Brand (8) both perished attempting big shots, while Nicoll was eventually run out by a fine direct hit, having struck 89 off 92 balls including 10 fours and two sixes as North Midd finished on 278 after 60.3 overs.
When Twickenham batted, Hughes and Ed Bird looked threatening but an early wicket proved elusive as openers Rys Davies and David Russell reached 57 together.
The breakthrough came via the leg spin of Denly, who snared Davies (30) lbw and then took a return catch to dismiss the incoming Babar Choudhary for one run.
Teenage left-arm spinner Nurse was introduced to partner Denly, and he saw off the dangerous Clint McCabe (25) before opener Russell (58) was bowled by Bird (2-43).
When Twickenham’s traditional talisman Carlos Nunes (20) was undone by a ball from Nurse which turned sharply, Twickenham were struggling at 148-5, and Simon Dunning lasted just three balls before departing lbw to Bird for a duck.
Rashid Mullahzadah stuck around to make 25, but he was dismissed by Hughes (3-27), and Denly (3-50) then had Eugene Berger (14) caught at slip by Nicoll before Hughes took the final two wickets, completing the victory in the 51st over.