North Middlesex start campaign with victory over reigning champions Teddington

North Middlesex made a strong statement on the opening day of the season, securing a notable 113-run home win over reigning champions Teddington in the Middlesex County Cricket League.

Playing in the Premier Division’s new 50-over format, captain Tom Nicoll hit 58 off 53 balls as the hosts posted 237 from 49.5 overs at their Park Road ground.

Joel Hughes (4-37) then ripped through Teddington’s top order while Ed Bird (3-18) also played his part as the visitors were skittled for 124 in 32.3 overs.

“This was a very strong all-round performance against last year’s Middlesex champions,” said a buoyant Nicoll. “Joel Hughes’ opening spell was the highlight.

“We are looking forward to pushing on and competing strongly in the Premier Division this season – it should be good fun.”

North Midd were asked to bat first on a pitch where the ball was expected to nip about early in the day before flattening out later in the day, and openers Atif Zafar and Will Nicoll were watchful against the new ball while making good use of some free hits as Charles Hopkins overstepped his mark.

However, their well-crafted opening stand of 68 was ended when Zafar (29) was trapped in front by Ben Hinchliffe and, with Teddington fielding well and there being little pace on the ball, the batsmen found gaps hard to find.

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Wickets began to fall fairly regularly, with Will Vanderspar departing for six, followed by Will Nicoll (38), leaving the hosts 107-3.

A typically belligerent 27 from Evan Flowers threatened to take the game away from Teddington before he was snared leg before, but the dismissals of Connor Nurse (13), Sam Webber (7) and Liam O’Driscoll (12) left North Midd

188-7, and they were in danger of not capitalising on the excellent start made by the openers.

But skipper Tom Nicoll was in fine form at the crease, scoring more than a run per ball. And, when he finally found a batsman with the discipline to stay with him in the form of wicketkeeper Adam Holmes (16), the second meaningful partnership of the day took the final score up to 237 as North Midd lost their last wicket off the penultimate ball of the innings.

While the visitors felt they should possibly have made an extra 15 or 20 runs, it proved not to matter as man of the match Hughes demolished Teddington’s top order in his first couple of overs, removing Tom Twiney and Ben Williams for ducks and Tom Healy for two.

When North Midd’s overseas player Webber (1-31) then removed James Keightley (11), the visitors were 17-4 and in deep trouble.

Tom Elliott (17) and Alex Fullarton shared a 40-run partnership, but Fullarton (22) was run out and the introduction of paceman Ed Bird (3-18) opened the floodgates once more as he bowled Elliott (17), Will Rist (4) and Hinchliffe (3), with Teddington slumping from 57-4 to 68-8.

Ben Ladd-Gibbon added 13 before being bowled by O’Driscoll (1-29) and No11 Matthew Swann plundered 28 off 19 balls to take the reigning champions above 100, but he was caught by Flowers off Hughes, who returned to finish the job he had started and capture the final wicket in the 33rd over.