North London captain’s confident of survival after victory at Winchmore Hill
North London captain Jack Atchinson is confident of survival after his team hauled themselves off the foot of the Division Three table for the first time since May in the Middlesex County Cricket League.
NL’s nail-biting victory away to Winchmore Hill – their fourth win in eight games – lifted them six points above relegation rivals Bessborough with two fixtures remaining.
They now host Harrow Town before travelling to Kenton on the final day and Atchinson is feeling optimistic after his players produced their “most complete performance of the season so far”.
He said: “Having been bottom pretty much the whole season, it does knock your confidence and make you question yourself. But now we’ve got that monkey off our shoulders.
“It’s not like we’ve been playing terribly, but this was our most complete performance of the season so far. We’ve become hard to beat, a bit more stubborn, and that’s been the key.
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“It’s given everyone around the club a massive lift. We know what we’ve got to do – put in two more good performances and hopefully we can not only survive but move a couple more places up the league.
“Our record has been good recently, especially at home, and we’ll fancy our chances of getting some points out of Harrow Town, if not the full allocation.”
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Atchinson won the toss and sent Winchmore Hill in to bat, a decision that was rewarded as opening bowlers Matthew Rosson and Tom Wakeford restricted the flow of runs.
Rosson finished with figures of 3-43 and Wakeford 2-25, while spinners Peter Monar – making his first appearance in a year – and Ted Greally chipped in with two wickets apiece.
Greally’s first victim was Mark Barrell, who top scored with 57, while Monar got rid of Jim Gatting (45) and also produced a superb run-out to dismiss Chris Chapman (30) as the home side totalled 212 from 48.4 overs.
“We knew the pitch was more batsman-friendly than anything and felt it could be hard to bowl a team out second, so we had to gamble a bit and get them out for a below-par score,” Atchinson explained.
“Their opening batsmen like to play their shots, but we didn’t allow them to settle, we held our catches and never took our foot off the gas – which in turn allowed our batsmen to express themselves.”
North London lost Ibrar Tariq (9) early on in their reply, but Hussain Shabbir (40) and Ralph Pedersen (16) steadied the ship before Sarthak Sawlani (6-47) began to get among the middle order.
However, Will Lake – recalled to the side after a century for the second XI – held the innings together with a classy 60, ably supported by Yasir Hashmi (26) and Wakeford (20).
Although Lake was bowled by Sawlani with the target in sight, Monar (6no) held his nerve to scramble NL over the line and clinch victory at 213-8 in the 50th over.
“It was a perfect run chase,” added Atchinson. “The highest the rate ever got was five and it was the first time we’ve actually built partnerships rather than losing wickets in clusters.
“Will was showing potential but not quite getting the scores that we knew he could, so we put him back in the second XI to get some form and he batted beautifully.
“We had a nervous ending, but you couldn’t write Pete’s scripts – he was only called up the night before after 12 months out and ended up getting the winning runs.”