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Flowers is proud of North Middlesex’s homegrown squad as title race goes down to the wire

PUBLISHED: 10:00 01 September 2016

Evan Flowers bats for North Middlesex. Pic: Paolo Minoli

Evan Flowers bats for North Middlesex. Pic: Paolo Minoli

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North Middlesex batsman Evan Flowers is thrilled that the club’s policy of developing and promoting homegrown players has been rewarded as the fight for the Middlesex County League title goes down to the final day.

The Crouch End side secured their ninth successive victory in the Premier Division at the weekend, their four-wicket victory over Ealing ensuring they have now beaten every top-flight club in a row.

North Midd remain six points off the top of the table ahead of Saturday’s final round of fixtures, hoping to overtake Teddington on the line and win the County League crown for the first time since 1990.

But, regardless of the outcome, Flowers – who has been at the club for 10 years after arriving as the overseas player in 2006 – is proud of the squad’s progress.

“I guess the most satisfying thing is that all the young lads who have been at the club for so many years, they’ve all contributed at crucial times and it hasn’t been a one-man band,” said the Aussie, who lives in Nelson Road in Crouch End.

“A lot of clubs rely on a superstar or an overseas player or a pro, and we’ve basically got a homegrown bunch of mates who enjoy playing together who are also very good at cricket - the chemistry’s good.

“It’s not a team of superstars, it’s a superstar team. A lot of these guys who are doing well were barely toddlers - they were between the ages of five to 10 - when I was first here, so seeing them succeeding in the Premier League is fantastic.

“There’s Joe Cracknell, Connor Nurse, Will Nicoll, and even [captain] Tom Nicoll was just a teenager. Nick Brand has also contributed, he’s been here for a number of years.

“It’s just a great club and every year has its own magic, but with the satisfaction I get out of seeing the improvement in those young elite players, this has definitely been the best year in terms of the standard of cricket and the consistency.

“Our success is not based on poaching players from Oxford or Cambridge for a few seasons. We have a homegrown system and people are drawn to that because it’s quite rare now for London clubs to have a homegrown and consistent base of talented players.

“We’re very proud of that and it’s taken a lot of hard work from families like the Nicolls and the Brands. It’s a huge labour of love for a community of people, so we’re very proud and hopefully we do well on Saturday and we’ll see where we’re at.”

The frustration for North Midd is that, despite their hugely impressive winning run, they remain in the runners-up spot – which has now been secured at least – ahead of the campaign’s climax.

Tom Nicoll’s side must win away against Shepherd’s Bush, who are lying in the relegation zone, and hope leaders Teddington fall at the final hurdle when they visit seventh-placed Stanmore.

“We respect what Teddington have done,” said Flowers. “They’re a very good batting side and quite consistent - but I think we look back on the first few weeks where we were in winning positions and, maybe because we were a bit young and inexperienced, just didn’t take advantage of being in those positions.

“Part of it is trying not to look back and regret anything and just enjoying the ride, and we’ll see what happens at the weekend.

“We know we’ve seen teams slip up. At this level anything can happen and we know Teddington could be playing against a very determined Stanmore side because they’ve got to stay up - and Shepherd’s Bush are in the same position.

“They’ll be scrapping and we just need to make sure we keep doing what we’ve been doing for the last nine weeks.”

North Midd’s second team are also going into the weekend with a shot at their Division One title, attempting to hold onto top spot ahead of their Teddington counterparts as well as Richmond.

“We’ve got a squad of 20 first-team players we can pick from most weeks, so that really is the key,” said Flowers.

“In amateur cricket, when you’ve got guys who work night shifts and are doctors or lawyers or piano players and all the rest of it, it’s a very diverse team so having that depth is very important.”

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