Highgate’s bowlers seal the title - and shatter South Hampstead’s promotion hopes

Highgate’s bowlers sealed the title – and dealt what could be a fatal blow to South Hampstead’s hopes of joining them in Division Two of the Middlesex County Cricket League next season.

Hashen Ramanayake, Ed Foster and Craig Gourlay shared the wickets around at Shepherd’s Cot as SH fell 69 runs short of the home side’s 286-8 declared, despite a spirited recovery from the tail.

The result confirmed Highgate as Division Three champions, but left South Hampstead with no chance of finishing runners-up unless they win their last two games and second-placed Barnes lose twice.

SH skipper James Williams won the toss and decided to field, but his bowlers were unable to make much headway as Chris Arul (10) and Jake Sharland (43) scored freely.

Mohamad Choudry (3-75) eventually had Arul caught behind, but that only paved the way for Will Bowley to blaze a rapid 66, dominating a second-wicket stand of 78 with Sharland.

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Williams (3-75) took a return catch to end Bowley’s stay at the crease and wickets then began to fall more regularly, with Sharland run out and the SH captain dismissing Jonathan Bowley (6) and Ramanayake (42).

Choudry returned to remove Nick Brunner (7) and Gourlay (8), only for Will Brookes (55) and Foster (24 not out) to restore momentum with an eighth-wicket partnership of 56.

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Brookes was run out late on as Highgate declared on a formidable total of 286-6 from 55 overs – and that always looked out of the visitors’ reach.

SH had no option but to score quickly from the off and Sacha Duran (8) struck two boundaries from four balls before Ramanayake (4-86) had him caught with the fifth.

Leroy Shepherd hit a brisk 21 before becoming Ramanayake’s second victim – and most of his colleagues also got starts without going on to the big score that might have given South Hampstead a chance of victory.

Gourlay (3-66) strangled the middle order as he removed Shrutarth Rajani (19), Avnish Patel (9) and Vishal Bhimjiyani (19), while Ramanayake got rid of Nish Patel (18) to leave SH on 108-6.

Williams (28) and Sebastien Rae (37) did their best to mount a counter-attack, while Touqeer Ahmad hammered 35 from just 20 balls as he and Rae added 50 for the eighth wicket.

But it was not enough and Touqeer was bowled by Ramanayake, with Karthik Jagganathan (11) run out by Arul before Foster (2-48) wrapped up proceedings by bowling Rae in the 44th over to clinch victory and the championship.

“I had a tear in my eye when Foster took that last wicket,” said Highgate bowling coach Mickey Leighton.

“All the hard yards during pre-season and in the nets finally came to fruition.

“I can safely say that this group of bowlers is one of the most talented Highgate have produced – since my playing days of course! It has been a fantastic season for all involved in the club.”

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