Hampstead edge out North Middlesex in thriller
- Credit: George Phillipou/TGS Photo
Groundsman Steve Jarvis worked hard to get the fixture at Lymington Road on and was not disappointed
Hampstead and North Middlesex produced a memorable contest on Saturday despite the weather cancelling most other cricket.
All other games in the Middlesex County Premier Division were off and only four other matches in the top three divisions survived.
The Lymington Road wicket was good enough for cricket though and Hampstead chairman Nick Brown praised one man in particular after the 41-run victory.
He said: "This was another fantastic game, different to the previous weekend against Ealing, but every bit as exciting.
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"Steve Jarvis is our fantastic groundsman, he worked very hard to get the game on. The wicket was untouched by the overnight rain, but there were some areas of the ground that needed hard-work to get the game on. Once we got started there was very little issue."
North Middlesex captain Joel Hughes won the toss and fielded first, with Hampstead able to post 161, which felt slightly below-par given the platform set.
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Sam Evison top scored with 45 after Mubasher Hassan's 39 at the top of the order, but the next best score was 21 by Suresh Peiris.
Hughes claimed 3-31 for his side and Max Harris picked up 3-29 to leave North Middlesex in need of 162 for a victory which would have sent them top outright.
On the opposition, Brown added: "North Middlesex are a terrific team and it was hard work against their bowling attack, in particular Joel Hughes was outstanding.
"Sam recovered from being hit on the helmet by Max Harris to continue his great form and Mubasher helped him set a platform for a decent total.
"It was probably 20 light of what we wanted, but we knew if we bowled well it would be hard work."
Given the form of Joe Cracknell and Luke Hollman, the visitors' would have fancied their chances also, but Rich Banham dismissed the openers relatively cheaply.
At 66-5, North Middlesex were in trouble, but Will Vanderspar stuck around in an effort to get them over the line.
Alex MacQueen's dismissal for 15 left the away side 90-6 and they quickly collapsed to 104-9 with all three results still a possibility at this stage.
Ed Bird tried his best to dig in and get North Middlesex a crucial winning-draw, but Banham came back and bowled him to end with figures of 4-35.
Ajit Sambhi (3-39) and Jamie Litherland (2-11) had key roles as well for Hampstead to give them a memorable win.
Chairman Brown said: "Rich took the three key wickets of Hollman, Cracknell and Evan Flowers, prior to Saturday they were numbers one, three and four in run scorers in the league. It was a great effort from Rich as he has been struggling with illness. "Ajit and Jamie both took wickets as we were able to squeeze the game and exert some control, but Will Vandespar batted well.
"In spite of us getting close to winning the game, they could still have taken the winning draw, fortunately Rich was able to summon enough energy to come back for one over and took the wicket to give us the win.
"It would have been tough to take another losing draw with the opposition nine down, so there was a big celebration after the game.
"We've now been very close to beating the top two teams in the league in consecutive weeks, it has taken a while for us to find form, but we're very confident right now."
Vanderspar remained there unbeaten on 33 not out and title-chasing North Middlesex return home to face Twickenham this weekend while Hampstead entertain Finchley looking for another victory.