North Middlesex end losing run in style by thrashing title contenders Richmond
North Middlesex ended their four-game losing streak in style, beating second-placed Richmond by eight wickets and deciding the title battle in the process.
Having lost to leaders Hampstead off the last ball in their previous game, Will Vanderspar took 4-19 while Ed Bird claimed 4-29 as Richmond were bowled out for 106 at their their Old Deer Park home.
Vanderspar then struck an unbeaten 28 to guide his side to victory at 80-2 - the target being lowered under the Duckworth-Lewis method due to rain.
Richmond’s title challenge was consequently ended as they missed out on the point they needed to stay in the title fight – and their visit to Hampstead this weekend is now far less important than it might have been.
That was of no great concern to North Midd captain Tom Nicoll and his side, but they were buoyed by an impressive victory which ended their losing run.
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The skipper said: “Our performances over the last two weeks – beating one title contender and losing to the other off the very last ball of the match – show that we have real quality in the side, but we need to be much more consistent next season, especially with the bat, to mount a sustained challenge.”
Nicoll insterted Richmond in bowler-friendly conditions, and the ball moved around from the start.
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Joel Hughes kept things tight at one end while Bird removed openers Greg King (5) and Arthur Sewell (8) at the other – and Vanderspar then took wickets in a row with his allotted 10 overs at the cost of just 19 runs.
That left Richmond 79-6 and, although they crawled past 100, Bird and Hughes (2-15) cleaned up the tail, with the last three wickets falling for just two runs.
There was still work to be done against one of the best bowling attacks in the league, and when Atif Zafar (1) was snared lbw by David Button (1-8) North Midd were fearing a familiar top-order collapse.
However, Hughes and Vanderspar shared a nerve-settling 55-run partnership before rain delayed proceedings.
Hughes (15) was run out in unfortunate circumstances as Vanderspar smashed a full toss back at the bowler and the ball was deflected onto the stumps at the non-striker’s end.
But, after a two-hour break due to the weather, Vanderspar (28 not out) and Evan Flowers (11no) knocked off the remaining runs.
Meanwhile, North Midd’s third team also overcame Richmond in a nail-biting two-wicket win – and that meant they beat their rivals to the third XI Premier League title.
The victory, achieved by a young side featuring four colts, was their 10th successive triumph and represents the first time a North Middlesex team has won a Premier League title since the current Middlesex County League structure was introduced in 1999.
Skipper Ed Lake said: “Congratulations to all those who have contributed to a fantastic season.
“We’ve had a lot of fun, and with only one defeat and a tally of 137 points with a match still to play, we are worthy champions.”