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Debutant Thaxton hits winning runs as Highgate edge thriller at South Hampstead

17:16 02 June 2014

Highgate’s William Brookes removes South Hampsteads Sahil Kher. Pic: Paolo Minoli

Highgate’s William Brookes removes South Hampsteads Sahil Kher. Pic: Paolo Minoli

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Debutant Scott Thaxton struck the winning runs as Highgate’s last-wicket pair scrambled across the line in a thrilling finish against South Hampstead.

Craig Gourlay. Pic: Paolo MinoliCraig Gourlay. Pic: Paolo Minoli

Highgate appeared to be in charge after dismissing their hosts for 153 at Milverton Road, with William Brookes taking 4-24 and Thaxton’s slow bowling earning him figures of 3-42.

But the visitors’ response was ruined by Umar Asif (5-51) and they slid to 50-6 before Johan Desilva, Craig Gourlay and Freddie Barrass led a spirited fightback by the tail.

Four runs were still required when the penultimate wicket fell – but no 11 Thaxton, making his first appearance for Highgate, kept his cool to steer them to victory with four balls remaining.

“We are absolutely delighted to come away with all 10 points in a very nail-biting finish to an excellent game of cricket,” said Highgate captain Jake Sharland.

“We bowled well, with Brookes excelling in particular but, having had them 118-8, we were a little disappointed to let them get up above 150.

“It was very pleasing to see the lower order get us over the line with Matt [Holly], Craig and Johan all playing vital knocks to get us close to their score.

“Thankfully Scott and Freddie saw us home and this result has given us a real boost for the rest of the season.”

Sharland won the toss and opted to field, a decision that paid immediate dividends as Brookes removed Paul Atherley (4) and Sahil Kher (4), both leg before.

Leroy Shepherd struck a brisk 23 before he fell to Barrass (1-31) and Nish Patel (23) and Karthik Jagannathian (31) continued the recovery as they lifted South Hampstead to 87-3.

But Thaxton and Gourlay initiated a middle-order collapse, capturing five wickets between them for 31 runs, and it needed a ninth-wicket stand of 34 between Majid Akram (18) and Touqeer Ahmad (16) to haul SH beyond the 150 mark.

Brookes eventually wrapped up the innings in the 49th over by removing both batsmen in rapid succession.

Asif gave the home side the perfect start when Highgate replied, getting rid of Sharland for a duck, but William Russell (20) and Ed Binns (23) steadied the ship – initially, at least.

However, Highgate’s slump was more dramatic than the home side’s had been, with Asif accounting for Binns and then dismissing Brookes and Nick Brunner, both for ducks, in the space of three deliveries.

Holly (21) and Desilva (30) repaired the damage with a partnership of 43 and, although Asif completed his five-for by having the latter caught behind, Gourlay (32) helped to take Highgate past the three-figure mark.

In tandem with Barrass (10 not out), Gourlay added 33 for the ninth wicket but, when he fell to Touqeer at 150-9, it was left to Thaxton (4no) to clinch a dramatic win.

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