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North Midd’s title charge suffers setback

Seven-wicket defeat against rivals, with influential pair unavailable

04 September, 2020 — By Steve Barnett

THE absence of Luke Hollman and Joe Cracknell proved critical to North Middlesex’s title charge on Saturday as they suffered a seven-wicket defeat away to Ealing.

The pair have been a lynchpin for their side in the top-flight of the Middlesex County Cricket League this season. But they missed the must-win match against their title rivals at the weekend after being named in Middlesex’s 15-man squad to face Sussex Sharks in the 2020 Vitality Blast.

And without them North Midd couldn’t fend off Nick Palmer at Corfton Road as the Ealing bowler collected five wickets at the expense of just 30 runs.

Gareth James was among Palmer’s “five-for” haul, but not before top-scoring for North Midd with a lowly, albeit well-crafted score of 27.

In the end the visitors managed just 115 runs before being bowled out in the 39th over.

Ethan Bamber did his best to make a match of it as he took three wickets for 12 runs in an economic 10-over spell that included four maidens.

But league leaders Ealing proved too strong, powering to a winning total of 116-3 in 34 overs to move within touching distance of the title.

Meanwhile, the closest contest of the afternoon saw Hampstead beat Crouch End by a single run at their Lymington Road home.

Openers Callum Jackson and Mubasher Hassan hit 34 and 31 runs respectively to take the hosts past 70 before the loss of their first wicket. Jack Biddulph also batted well as he added a further 43 runs.

Hampstead were eventually dismissed for 196, just two balls shy of completing their allotted 50 overs.

Crouch End kept the runs ticking over as they chased a winning total of 197. And they got close – very close.

But in a grandstand finish it was the Hampstead players celebrating after Ben Frazer bowled out Ryan Cunningham to dismiss Crouch End with the penultimate ball of the innings for 195.

Rich Banham was the pick of the Hampstead bowlers as he took 4-34, while Frazer ended with 2-31.

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