Brookes hits maiden half-century to lead Highgate to victory over Winchmore Hill

Will Brookes hit his maiden first-team half-century to set up Highgate’s 75-run victory over the former league champions Winchmore Hill in Division Three of the Middlesex County Cricket League.

Brookes struck an unbeaten 58 to dig Highgate out of trouble after they had been put in at Shepherd’s Cot, sharing a crucial partnership of 67 with Freddie Barrass and ensuring the bowlers had something to defend.

Their total of 191-9 proved to be ample as Winchmore Hill – who won the Premier Division title just three years ago – succumbed for just 116 in reply, with Craig Gourlay taking 4-28.

“After struggling last year with the bat, it was good to contribute in partnership with Will, who batted excellently,” said Barrass.

“On paper we couldn’t have been handed a tougher start to the season, facing the two teams that came down, so to win both games is extremely satisfying.”

Highgate’s top order found it tough going, with Ben Sudell run out for a duck and fellow opener Chris Arul making 13 before departing leg before to Tom Kopelman (2-38).

New overseas signing Hashen Ramanayake made just four before he fell to Siran Seevaratnam (2-42), although skipper Jake Sharland (16) and Marley Ali (14) ground their way past the 50 mark.

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But both were dismissed in quick succession, with the captain the first of three victims for Jim Gatting – who then removed Gourlay (9) and Philip Knott without scoring as Highgate slumped to 76-7.

However, Brookes found a staunch ally in Barrass and the pair gradually repaired the damage, lifting the total to 143-7 before the latter was caught behind off Robert Sobers for 35.

Jack Peck (7) and Scott Thaxton (11 not out) ensured that Highgate’s tail continued to wag while Brookes advanced past his half-century and Sharland declared after 55 overs.

Ramanayake (3-34) gained an early success when the visitors began their response, bowling Seevaratnam (8), but Charlie Holmes (21) and Steve Gent (40) lifted them to a healthy 55-1.

It was Brookes (1-18) who made the breakthrough, having Holmes caught by Peck and, when Gourlay bowled Sasha Selveratnum (8), the contest was beginning to tilt back in Highgate’s favour.

Ramanayake and Gourlay breezed through the middle order to leave Winchmore Hill’s hopes resting on the shoulders of Gent – and those were dashed when he was caught and bowled by Thaxton.

Thaxton returned the remarkable figures of 2-0 after sending down six maidens, but it was Gourlay who finished Winchmore Hill off in the 42nd over, dismissing James Cassidy and Sobers for ducks.