Practice session with England batsmen galvanises Gregory as North London narrowly beat South Hampstead
- Credit: Max Flego
A warm-up session with Test batsmen at Lord’s helped to inspire Jordan Gregory as he spun North London to a nail-biting victory over South Hampstead.
Gregory had been bowling in the nets at the England players as part of the national team’s preparation for the third Test against Sri Lanka, and he also sought advice from the visitors’ coach Graham Ford.
The NL spinner was then in sensational form on Saturday as he twice dug his side out of a hole – first scoring 75 with the bat to rescue them from a perilous position at 85-7.
Despite that effort, SH seemed to be cruising to their victory target of 199 after reaching 121-1 – but Gregory, bowling in tandem with fellow spinner Ted Greally, took 5-42 as the visitors collapsed and fell two runs short.
North London skipper Sam Bardon said: “Jordan had been bowling in the nets at Lord’s and he had a chat with Graham Ford, who coached him in South Africa. I think that really helped him.
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“He’s been very unlucky with the ball so far – he hadn’t got the wickets that the quality of his spells deserved – but he was virtually unplayable, especially after the spinners swapped ends.
“It was very nerve-racking. I used to play for South Hampstead and we had a couple of very similar close games that went North London’s way – so it was nice to be on the right side for once!”
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SH won the toss at Shepherd’s Cot, put their hosts in and immediately made inroads as Mohamad Choudhry (1-15) and Kirk Drummond (2-43) removed the top three.
Bardon’s innings of 26 briefly stemmed the tide, with support from Jack Godfrey-Wood (10) and Simon Mintoft (12), but the latter pair both fell to Touqeer Ahmad (3-25).
Touqeer also dismissed Rich Hall for a second-ball duck and, when Karthik Jagannathan prised out Bardon, NL appeared to be staring down the barrel.
But Gregory had other ideas, launching a counter-attack with an innings that included eight fours and four sixes and sharing valuable partnerships of 51 and 49 with Greally (18) and Tom Wakeford (25 not out).
Avnish Patel (3-48) eventually claimed the wickets of Greally, Gregory and last man Dave Schout (5) as North London were bowled out for 198 in 51 overs.
“We were very pleased to get to 198 from the position we were in – it took a phenomenal effort from our bottom four,” added Bardon. “It was mainly thanks to Jordan, but the other three supported him very well.
“Having Jordan, Ted and Tom at eight, nine and 10 is one of the reasons we are competitive in this league – they play like proper batsmen and that line-up is one of our strengths.”
The home side’s total looked less than adequate as, despite the loss of Jerus Reemaul – caught behind off Schout for 12 – the SH reply began at a rapid pace.
Skipper Leroy Shepherd (54) was joined by Felix Walker, who slammed 61 – almost all of them in boundaries – from just 49 deliveries, but then he fell leg before to Gregory and the tide began to turn.
South Hampstead needed only 50 more when the wicket of Nish Patel (21) went down to Gregory, but Shepherd followed almost immediately, lbw to Greally (2-62).
Wickets continued to fall regularly and, although Majid Akram made a late bid to bundle SH over the line with 14 from seven balls, he was run out as Alan O’Shea’s accurate throw from the boundary to wicketkeeper Hall sealed a thrilling win for North London.