North Middlesex ready for a ‘tough’ battle with title foes Ealing

North Middlesex players have a huddle before their Middlesex County League Premier Division match (p

North Middlesex players have a huddle before their Middlesex County League Premier Division match (pic: North Middlesex CC). - Credit: Archant

Joel Hughes wants his team to try and complete the double over the 2017 league champions, but is expecting a close encounter

North Middlesex captain Joel Hughes is looking forward to this weekend’s Middlesex County League Premier Division home game with second-placed Ealing.

The two high-flying clubs will do battle at Park Road and whoever wins will most likely provide the best challenge to current leaders Richmond, who are in first place on 73 points.

In contrast, Ealing have 63 in second and North Middlesex are third with 54, but ahead of this Saturday’s contest, optimism is rife the pace setters at the halfway mark can be caught.

Hughes said: “This weekend is massive and whoever wins will put themselves in a really good position to challenge Richmond.

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“It is not the end of the world if we lose, but at the same time we know it is a long way back.

“We are two teams who are in really good form, so I think it should be a cracking contest and one we are looking forward to.”

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Ealing and North Middlesex did battle back on the opening day of the season, on May 5, at Corfton Road and it was the visitors who triumphed by three wickets.

After restricting the 2017 league champions to 192-9 from 50 overs, Hughes’ team got home with six balls left thanks to an unbeaten 47 from James Parslow.

Despite their previous success, North Middlesex’s captain is not going to allow his team to become complacent, especially as Ealing have won their last six league games, including a victory over Richmond back on June 23.

“We beat Ealing earlier in the season at their place, so we know we have nothing to fear,” said captain Hughes.

“At the same time, it is never wise to underestimate Ealing because they have a number of really good players.

“When we played them before they were missing Chad Barrett and he is back now and fresh from 92 not out on Saturday, so we know it will be tough.”

It should be a close encounter at Park Road, but North Middlesex will go into the match following an excellent seven-wicket victory at home to local rivals Hampstead last Saturday.

Luke Hollman’s 5-32 helped dismiss the visitors for 171 and 50 not out from Parslow and a rapid unbeaten 74 from Joe Cracknell saw the hosts home.

North Middlesex will be in cup action on Sunday too when they host Shepherds Bush in the last-eight of the knock-out cup.

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