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'Let it rain' say North London as they edge to safety

PUBLISHED: 17:13 03 September 2008 | UPDATED: 10:18 22 July 2010

TOM WAKEFORD completed a remarkable recovery from a broken arm to take seven South Hampstead wickets on Saturday and give North London a great chance of avoiding relegation. Pace ace Wakeford suffered the injury against Richmond in July, and only had the

TOM WAKEFORD completed a remarkable recovery from a broken arm to take seven South Hampstead wickets on Saturday and give North London a great chance of avoiding relegation.

Pace ace Wakeford suffered the injury against Richmond in July, and only had the plaster cast removed from his right arm five days before Saturday's game, but after missing the second half of the season with injury he was raring to go.

And South Hampstead simply had no answer as they were skittled for just 59 in 23.1 overs, with Wakeford bowling unchanged from one end to record figures of 11.1-4-19-7.

That was the 14th time the NL stalwart had taken five wickets in a County League match, but none of them can have been as important as Saturday's haul.

Having started the day in the bottom two and staring relegation in the face, the win catapulted NL out of the drop zone and leaves them needing only a point from Saturday's crunch final game at Wembley to survive. Even if they lose they could still stay up, if third-from bottom Harrow are also defeated.

"We've still got plenty of work to do but that win has given us a chance, it has put us in the play-offs is one way of looking at it," said delighted skipper Ian Johns, who steered his side to victory with 30, together with Mark Askew (16).

"It was just so good to have Tom back and he bowled brilliantly - the pitch wasn't in the best condition but there was no way it was a 59 all out pitch.

"South Hampstead seemed to get it into their heads that it was unplayable though, and that worked to our advantage."

There were also wickets for Maaz Haffeji (2-21) and returning veteran Ilyas Malick (1-1) but it was Wakeford's magnificent seven that stole the limelight.

Now NL need to reproduce this form on Saturday when they head to Wembley needing to avoid defeat to beat the drop, unless the weather intervenes, in which case North London are also safe.

"The way Wembley and ourselves have been playing I just can't see it being a draw, and I can't see Harrow not getting something at South Hampstead either," added Johns.

"Rain is forecast though and that would suit us - we'll all be keeping a close eye on the weather on Friday night for sure!


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