Middlesex County League: Flowers power gets North Mid off the mark

Evan Flowers and Alex Hill shared a stunning 261-run second-wicket partnership on Saturday as North Middlesex recorded their first league points of the season.

Skipper Flowers notched a mighty 178 while Hill (98) fell just two runs short of his century as the visitors as the visitors declared on a massive 360-5 – and secured a much-needed winning draw against hosts Harrow Town.

North Mid had previously lost their opening two league games against Hornsey and Brentham, and travelled to Harrow lying inside the bottom two in Division Two.

Flowers lost the toss and was asked to bat first on a good-looking track which is renowned for being a bowlers’ graveyard – and so it proved again.

Adam Holmes and Hill began sedately, making 18 off the first eight overs before Holmes (24) opted to come back for a second run when Michael Jadunath fumbled the ball on an uneven outfield – and was run out.

Ironically, the opener had perished in exactly the same manner the previous summer at Rayners Lane.

However, his dismissal brought Flowers and Hill together at the crease, and they went on to forge one of the biggest and longest North Mid partnerships for years.

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Flowers reached his ton and then added another 50 in just 16 balls, the highlight being a flat inside out six over long off.

After a becalmed start, Hill also played a fine innings which unfortunately ended on 98 when he pulled a long hop to mid wicket.

Flowers gave away his first chance on 168 and then presented his opponents with two more chances in the 170s before Mohammad Ali (1-56) finally claimed his wicket for a truly magnificent 178, which featured 15 fours and eight sixes.

Useful hitting from Darren Eckford (32) and Jaron Semper (14) followed as the visitors declared on 360-5 after 50 overs, giving themselves 50 overs to claim the full 10 points for victory.

Opening bowlers Eckford and debutant left-arm seamer Matt Haywood started relatively tightly against Sohail Butt and Heshan Morawaka. But, despite Harrow’s best efforts, a rate of 7.2 per over and rising looked difficult for the home side.

A stalemate emerged as it became clear that Town would fall short of their target – and that North Mid would be unable to get them all out.

Spinner Semper (3-44) obtained the first breakthroughs, bowling both openers for 50 and 43 respectively and then dismissing Jadunath, who was caught by Eckford at slip.

Nick Packard (1-51) toiled for little reward against Muhammad Arshad (75), but Dexter Thomas (2-26) removed Uzairuddin Mohammed, who hit 160 in this fixture last year when Town chased 280 in 45 overs.

Unfortunately the wickets were too few and far between, and the hosts reached 239-6 after 50 overs to grab a small share of the spoils.

Meanwhile, Highgate threw away a seemingly inevitable victory to lose their third game in a row after a match-winning innings from Acton’s Matthew Reeve.

Having set their opponents 227 for victory, basement boys Highgate had their visitors in desperate trouble at 61-7, and appeared to be cruising to their first win of the season.

However, Reeve came in at number eight and notched an unbeaten 117 off 82 balls as Acton not only avoided defeat, but reached the winning total with their final pair.

Highgate skipper Ed Binns lost the toss and was asked to bat, and the hosts reached 64-5 before Dave Benton came in and boosted the innings.

Nasirul Alam (22) and Christopher Gallagher (11) played their parts, but the 66-run partnership between Benton and Craig Gourlay was particularly effective as both players passed 50.

Benton eventually departed for 61 and Gourlay perished on 53 as Highgate declared on 226-9 after 55 overs – and that looked like more than enough as Jared Treadway (5-73) and Syed Karrar (4-82) left Acton on a desperate 61-7.

The end looked nigh, but No8 Reeve turned the match on its head with a stunning one-man show.

Ali Ahmed (31) and Josh Burrows (11) fell at the other end to set up an enthralling finale, as Highgate fought for their final wicket, and Matthew Reeve and John Reeve closed on the winning target.

And it was the Reeves who came out on top, with Matthew taking the plaudits after an unbeaten 117 off 82 balls, which included 18 fours and three sixes.

Elsewhere, Byron Hackshall took four wickets and struck 67 with the bat, but it was only enough to earn one point for North London at Barnes.

NL captain Mark Askew inserted his opponents but, despite the efforts of Hackshall (4-37), Ben Wakeford (2-2) and Tom Noutch (2-31), Barnes declared on 252-9 after 51 overs.

After tea, Hackshall (67) led the way again, while James Kee (48) fell just short of his 50 – but the visitors’ total of 200-7 was only enough for a losing draw.

Anthony Murphy scored 93 for Hornsey while James Bull also notched a half century, but the hosts had to settle for one point against Shepherd’s Bush.

Hornsey batted first and declared on 227-7 after 55 overs but failed to dismiss Bush’s last man as the visitors reached 192-9, and took the lion’s share of the spoils.