Middlesex County League: Captain’s catch hands Hornsey a dream start

Hornsey started their life in Division Two in style on Saturday, securing a thrilling last-gasp win over local rivals North Middlesex thanks to a superb diving catch from Chetan Patel at Tivoli Road.

Needing one wicket to win from the final over, Hornsey’s new overseas player Anthony Murphy found the edge of James Nightingale’s bat and captain Patel did the rest, moving sharply to hold a superb one-handed catch which sparked wild celebrations.

The win was set up earlier in the day after hosts Hornsey were asked to to bat by North Middlesex.

Despite the early loss of debutant James Bull (2), who was caught behind by Alex Hill off the bowling of Darren Eckford, opener Deepesh Makwana and new boy Murphy put the home side into a good position.

Makwana raced to 50 as Hornsey reached 110-1, and the pair looked in complete control until Murphy (26) spooned an easy catch to cover, bringing another debutant, Sam Hickingbotham, to the crease.

The runs continued to flow but the visitors reacted by introducing spinners Jaron Semper and Nicholas Packard, and they immediately began to turn the screw.

Makwana reached his first Hornsey century but Hickingbotham (22) was trapped lbw by Packard (2-70) and Makwana (103) finally succumbed soon after, caught by North Midd debutant Joe Hewton, who took the first of three catches off Semper (4-74).

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That combination proved to be particularly profitable for the visitors as Patel (10) and Garfield Struthers (23) both went exactly the same way.

Semper then dispatched Alex Scrini for a golden duck, but Martin Tucker (25 not out) and Joel Gregory (10no) added useful runs before the declaration at 232-7 after 53 overs.

North Midd had 47 overs to achieve their target and the chase became more difficult when Joel Gregory

(2-38) trapped Adam Holmes lbw for eight.

The visitors put on 35 runs for the second wicket, before opener Hill (14) was caught by Hickingbotham off Gregory, but Flowers started to cut loose and punish some wayward bowling.

The visitors were well in sight of their target at 79-3, but Hornsey fought back with key wickets at key times.

Left-arm spinner Bhaskar Patel did most of the damage as wickets kept falling around Flowers, who passed 50 with ease.

John Roberts departed for five, Eckford for 16 and Dexter Thomas for 17 as the latter pari both tried one shot too many against Oli Yew (1-30) and Bhaskar Patel (4-43), leaving the visitors struggling at 152-5.

North Midd’s plight worsened as they lost Jaron Semper (9), but Flowers continued to give his side hope as he passed 100.

The match was in the balance and Hornsey began to fear the worst as Chetan Patel dropped an easy chance to dismiss Flowers, and Tucker followed suit.

But, with the visitors needing just 36 to win, the hosts finally got their man as Scrini stumped Flowers for 119 off the bowling of Murphy (2-54).

Hornsey, who needed two wickets to pick up all 10 points, sensed their opportunity and suddenly they could smell victory as Tucker caught Amir Mapara (9) off Bhasker Patel.

With only one over remaining James Nightingale came out to the crease, with the match perfectly poised.

Hornsey needed one wicket for victory and North Midd needed three runs to take the four-point winning draw.

It was Murphy who bowled the final over, and the second ball ended the contest as he drew an edge from the No11 and Chetan Patel dived low to pluck the ball out of the air and give Hornsey a thrilling win.

MEANWHILE, Highgate were given a harsh indication of what life may be like in Division Two as they lost out by three wickets to Southgate on Saturday.

Playing their first ever game at this level, Highgate suffered a dreadful batting collapse that saw their last five batsmen dismissed for ducks, including former skipper Craig Gourlay, Matt Holly, Ponniah Vijendran and new wicketkeeper Sam Joseph.

As a result, Highgate were all out for 165 in just 38.2 overs, when they had been looking to push on towards a declaration after some solid early batting.

Although new captain Ed Binns departed early for two, his fellow opener James Warburton made 36, while No3 Nasirul Alam hit 32 from 32 balls including five fours and a six before he was run out. But newcomer Hammad Hassan and Dave Benton then came together and Hassan impressed with a debut half-century, hitting four sixes in a breezy 54 from 62 balls.

However when both he and Benton (22) were removed by Southgate’s Matt Creese (4-32), it precipitated a collapse that saw Highgate suddenly left defending a meagre total of 165.

Early wickets were therefore a must, and Highgate’s familiar tactic of opening with veteran spinner Syed Karrar paid immediate dividends as he removed the opening three Southgate batsmen for single-figure scores.

There were also wickets for Gourlay, Hassan and Benton and a neat run-out from wicketkeeper Joseph, but Creese (39) and Faisal Mir (29) steadied the ship for Southgate and an unbeaten 27 from James Watkins saw them to victory with plenty of time to spare.

ELSEWHERE, a century from Ian Johns was not enough for North London to begin their campaign in Division Three with an opening-day win against Ickenham on Saturday.

Opener Johns smashed a superb 106 to provide the bedrock of the NL innings, but the home side could not quite find the extra runs they needed to put Ickenham under genuine pressure in their reply.

New opener Matt Hoyle hit 36 to help Johns put on an encouraging opening stand, but only Tom Noutch (27) added a score down the order as NL were all out for 224 from 45 overs.

In reply Ickenham lost wickets at regular intervals, with Byron Hackshall (3-65) striking early to have one opener removed with a catch from Jack Godfrey-Wood.

James Baker, who also ended with figures of 3-65, took two wickets in quick succession in mid-innings to give NL hope of an opening-day win, but they ran out of time as Ickenham edged past the four-point target.

North London entertain newly-promoted Harrow St Mary’s at Shepherd’s Cot on Saturday.