North Middlesex drop towards relegation zone after another batting collapse

North Middlesex find themselves just one point above the relegation zone in the Premier Division of the Middlesex County League after their latest failure with the bat resulted in a defeat against leaders Ealing.

Connor Nurse and Joel Hughes took four wickets apiece as the hosts were bowled out for 195 – but North Midd quickly found themselves 17-3 in reply and then lost four wickets for three runs in the middle order before ultimately falling 79 short.

Their latest loss was their fifth in the opening eight games, and in three of those defeats their total has been below 120, while their top score of the campaign is 241-6 – which was still not enough to get a result, against Teddington.

Stand-in skipper Joel Hughes, who captained the team in the absence of Tom Nicoll on Saturday, said: “We were missing some players but so were Ealing, and it was a very disappointing result. Unfortunately the same old batting failings keep recurring.”

Hughes inserted Ealing on a soft-looking wicket but the pacesetters started well, reaching 94-1 thanks to Ahmad Elech (54), Tom Morton (22) and Robert White (17).

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The momentum changed, however. Hughes (4-36) had already dismissed Morton when Ed Bird (1-36) prised out White, and the skipper then removed Elech and Anand Ashok (3), leaving the hosts 116-4.

Ealing recovered as Scott Ensom (35) shared a 29-run partnership with Huw Jones (19) – who was bowled by Nurse – and then put on another 21 runs with Tom Marshall, reaching 166-5. But the home side then lost their final five wickets while only adding 29 runs.

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Jaron Semper (1-57) snared Marshall (9) lbw and Nurse (4-20) claimed the next three victims – Arthur Godsal (2) was caught by Joe Cracknell and Ensom found Hughes’ hands while Kristian Martin departed for a duck after being trapped lbw. Hughes then returned to bowl last man Jayden Park (1) as Ealing fell short of 200 in the 60th over.

North Midd’s reply got off to the worst possible start, though, as Ensom (5-43) ripped through the top order with four successive wickets.

Opener Nurse was snared leg before from the first delivery, and his replacement Rob Fahrenheim also departed in the first over after failing to score, being caught behind by White.

North Midd were 0-2 and matters did not improve as Evan Flowers (8) was bowled, leaving the visitors 17-3.

Teenage opener Joe Cracknell offered some resistance, hitting 37 off 36 balls and sharing a 36-run partnership with Mitch Murray (15) before being caught behind.

Murray and Luke Hollman (11) then put on another 20 together, but the wheels then came off and 73-4 promptly became 76-8.

Murray and Hollman were both dismissed in quick succession by Martin (3-27), who promptly got rid of Hughes (0) as well, and Nick Brand could only add three before being bowled by Park (2-14).

Joe Hewton and Semper dropped anchor in a bid for survival, the former hitting 18 off 55 balls and the latter contributing 13 off 42 deliveries in an 18-run stand.

But Semper was trapped in front of his wicket by Ensom, who completed his five-for. And, although Hewton and Bird managed to add another 22 runs together, Hewton was eventually caught by Godsal off Park after 38.4 overs.

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