North Middlesex captain positive after draw and hails ‘astonishing’ Hollman

Luke Hollman drives the ball for North Middlesex in the Middlesex County Premier Division (pic: Geor

Luke Hollman drives the ball for North Middlesex in the Middlesex County Premier Division (pic: George Phillipou/TGS Photo). - Credit: George Phillipou/TGS Photo

The Park Road club picked up five points last weekend but enjoyed the better of their clash with Finchley

North Middlesex captain Joel Hughes praised Luke Hollman and his team after they moved level at the top of the Middlesex County Premier Division with Ealing following a winning draw at Finchley on Saturday.

While the title challengers were unable to dismiss the hosts, they still produced a strong performance at Arden Field.

Put into bat first, Luke Hollman's 127 helped North Middlesex declare on 293-3, but it was not enough for victory with Finchley on 180-8 at the end.

Hughes said: "This was our fourth draw in a row where the opposition were eight down, but we were up against it from the minute we lost the toss and especially in the shortened game.

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"Once we didn't get the breakthrough with the new ball, it was going to be hard, but I'm really happy.

"I can't fault our effort in training or in the games and we could have easily picked up 40 points from the last four weeks had certain things gone for us.

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"We're still very positive and I told the guys on Saturday we can take great heart from the way we played at Finchley and the way we have played over the last few weeks."

Hollman wasn't the only centurion for North Middlesex with Ollie Tikare scoring 109 not out at number three.

The top-order batsman has been at the club for several years, but is currently studying at university and is not always available.

But with Evan Flowers absent on Saturday, Hughes gave him a chance and Tikare did not disappoint, smashing three maximums and seven fours.

North Middlesex's captain said: "Ollie has been at uni and his availability can be patchy, but he has played for Kent's second team and has looked unbelievable in the nets.

"He got a good fifty for our twos against a strong Ealing twos last weekend and with no Evan we took a punt on him and he batted really well.

"At drinks I had a chat with him and Luke and told them now is the time to go through the gears and they did it. He's a good player and hopefully when he finishes university we will see a bit more of him."

With Finchley chasing 294 for victory, a solid opening partnership hit North Middlesex's hopes of claiming a win.

Tom Nicoll (1-23) made the breakthrough and Max Harris (1-60) then picked up a scalp before Hughes got his first of three wickets for only 33 runs from 17 overs.

Ed Bird (1-28) and Hollman (1-19) also sent Finchley batsmen back to the pavilion, but North Middlesex were unable to get the last two they needed.

Once more it was a superb display and moved them level on points with Ealing at the top of the table.

Hollman also helped himself to a third century of the season to continue his remarkable 2019 with the all-rounder, who regularly plays for Middlesex's second-team, leading the way with runs scored in the Premier Division this year.

"Luke was extremely impressive again and his mental approach is the most impressive thing," Hughes said.

"He never pre-meditates or misses out on bad balls and has the absolute right mindset for batting long, which is rare in cricket and to have that at 18 is astonishing. He is a brilliant prospect."

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