North Middlesex’s batting lets them down again in defeat to Eastcote

North Middlesex came crashing back to earth after their opening-day victory over reigning champions Hampstead, failing to chase down a target of 131 against newly-promoted Eastcote in the Premier Division of the Middlesex County League.

There was a feeling of déjà vu for the Crouch End club. Having dismissed Hampstead for 123 to secure last week’s victory, North Midd bowled strongly again and had Eastcote all out for 130, with Nick Brand (4-52) and Joel Hughes (3-12) the star performers.

However, their batting let them down again and, after getting away with a below-par total of 145 in their first fixture, the Park Road outfit were skittled for 114 on Saturday, despite Will Nicoll’s knock of 37, and fell 16 runs short.

“We did half the job well but batted poorly for the second week running,” said North Midd captain Tom Nicoll. “The wicket was quite tricky but we should have been able to knock the runs off after our bowlers put us in the driving seat.

“Full credit to Eastcote, who bowled well and gave very little away - but we have to learn lessons, and we will.”

Eastcote made a flying start, scoring 20 runs in the first two overs, but Brand prised out Aman Lotay (10) in the fourth over and then removed Harpal Sagoo (5) and Christopher James (0) with successive deliveries.

When Rich Carroll (1-14) snared Jawwad Rasheed (0) lbw in the next over, North Midd had taken three wickets in four balls and the hosts were struggling at 29-4.

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Australian overseas player Joshua Sundberg (43) remained stubborn and got some support from Ravi Patel (17) and James Corbett (16) to take Eastcote to 103-6, but wickets fell at regular intervals and he was eventually bowled by Hughes with the first ball of the 37th over.

North Midd’s batting has been their Achilles heel on a number of occasions, though, and so it proved again.

Kiwi overseas signing Mitch Murray was bowled for a duck in the first over and last season’s top scorer Evan Flowers departed for seven - shortly after hitting a six over extra cover – while Rob Fahrenheim (6) and Tom Nicoll (2) soon followed, leaving the visitors reeling at 31-4.

Opener Adam Holmes (20) started the rebuilding process and Will Nicoll (37) then picked up the baton, taking his side to 92-6.

However, he was bowled by Sundberg (2-14) and the tail end was only able to add 22 more runs as North Midd fell short, ruing a missed opportunity.

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