North Middlesex move within eight points of the top after defeating leaders Richmond

North Middlesex are just eight points off the top in the Premier Division of the Middlesex County League after beating league leaders Richmond and recording their fifth victory in a row.

Sixteen-year-old Joe Cracknell hit an unbeaten 87 – including 10 off his last two balls – as the Crouch End outfit chased down a target of 177 with eight wickets to spare.

North Midd, who beat second-placed Teddington in their previous outing, have now moved up to fourth place – and they will aiming to depose the new leaders, Southgate, this weekend.

Club coach Dave Robson said: “This was definitely our most satisfying win of the season. It was a good all-round performance and we were comfortably the better side on the day against fellow title challengers.

“It is a pleasure to watch young Joe Cracknell bat as he adds maturity and composure to his obvious talent. After our run of wins, confidence is high and we are steadily closing the gap between us and the top teams.”

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North Midd captain Tom Nicoll invited Richmond to bat and Joel Hughes (3-34) and Ed Bird (2-29) promptly got rid of openers Greg King (1) and James Irvine-Fortescue (2), leaving the visitors 7-2.

Ben Compton (39) and Abhishek Jhunjhunwala (50) shared a stand of 79 but Richmond then lost five wickets for 31 runs, with Nicoll (3-50) and his brother Will (2-34) taking two apiece.

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Alex Griffiths (58) and James Essex (8) put on 35 runs together but Hughes dismissed them both, having the dangerous Griffiths caught by Tom Nicoll – and the North Midd pair then swapped roles to remove last man Jimmy Mugnaioni (1) in the 64th over.

The target proved to be a simple one for the hosts. While Adam Holmes (5) departed early on, Cracknell and Rob Fahrenheim (18) took the score to 66 before the latter was caught – and Evan Flowers (48) then joined Cracknell in a 111-run partnership which took North Midd over the line after 44.3 overs.

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