Highgate lose grip on top spot after missed opportunity at Ickenham
Highgate lost their grip on top spot in Division Three of the Middlesex County Cricket League after they were narrowly denied victory by Ickenham’s last pair in a tense finish.
Craig Gourlay captured four wickets as Ickenham crumbled from 114-2 to 194-9, but the visitors were unable to take one final scalp and had to settle for a winning draw.
Highgate lost the toss and were put in to bat, but opening pair Jake Sharland (46) and Chris Arul (30) quickly took command as they rattled up a first-wicket stand of 78.
The partnership was broken when Arul was bowled by Paul Sims (4-69), but Ed Binns joined Sharland at the crease and the duo continued to keep the scoreboard ticking over.
Skipper Sharland eventually fell to Vrushant Patel just four short of his half-century, but Binns did reach that milestone at better than a run a ball as he and William Russell put on 59 for the third wicket.
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Once Binns (50) was bowled by Sims, Highgate suffered a mini-collapse as Ed Atkins departed for just four and Ben Sudell (5) was dismissed by Craige Liquorish (2-41).
Russell (23) looked set to lead the charge towards a declaration, but he became the fourth victim for Sims and when Johan de Silva (10) fell to Liquorish, the visitors looked unsteady at 194-7.
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However, an unbroken partnership of 41 between Gourlay (26 not out) and Edward Foster (12no) steered them up to 235-7 at the end of the 42nd over.
Home captain Ross Berti gave his side a good start in pursuit of the target as he dominated the opening partnership of 36 with Daniel Pope (5), who was first to go when he fell leg before to Gourlay (4-67).
Scott Thaxton (2-56) then struck, bowling Sam Bensted (7), but Berti and Joe Mannick (24) lifted Ickenham to a healthy 114-2 before Thaxton took the catch to remove the captain for 75 off Gourlay.
Another catch from Thaxton, this time off his own bowling, accounted for Mannick and Ickenham’s middle order fell apart as Foster (1-26) bowled George Bensted (1) and Gourlay got rid of Sims (14) and Patel (13).
With Steve Gibson run out for a duck and Dean Waller leg before to Russell (1-26), although without scoring, it looked as if Highgate were set for their second successive win.
But they were unable to dislodge Greg Knowles, who remained unbeaten on 40, and Liquorish (0no), who survived an appeal from Gourlay in the final over as Ickenham thwarted their visitors on 198-9.
Highgate bowler Francis Barrass, who watched the match from the sidelines due to injury, said: “While frustrated at not walking away with all 10 points, we nonetheless put in another solid all-round performance which bodes well for the rest of the summer.
“We thought we had got their last man out in the final over but it was not given – hopefully some luck will start going our way soon.”