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Hampstead’s title defence looks doomed to failure after losing draw against Ealing

15:17 25 August 2014

Hampstead captain Steve Clark was the top scorer with a half-century, but a losing draw against Ealing effectively ended his side's chances of retaining their crown. Pic: Max Flego

Hampstead captain Steve Clark was the top scorer with a half-century, but a losing draw against Ealing effectively ended his side's chances of retaining their crown. Pic: Max Flego

Max Flego Sports Photography

Hampstead’s title defence is all but over after a losing draw in a rain-affected match against fellow championship contenders Ealing left them 16 points off the top with just two games left.

Hosts Ealing insterted their visitors and, although Hampstead opener George Adair went for 16, captain Steve Clark (53) and Ben Scott (41) took their side to 108-1.

Both were removed by Chris Peploe (3-55) while Ragheb Aga departed cheaply for three. But Middlesex CCC man Ollie Rayner notched 39 along with Freddie Fairhead (13), Liam Hughes (9) and Mubasher Hassan (0) – all three of whom were prised out by Kristian Martin (4-63) – as reigning champions Hampstead posted 196-8 from their maximum allotted 66 overs.

Twelve overs were lost to the weather, so Ealing only had 42 overs with the bat, underminging their chance of chasing down the target – but they only needed 125 for the winning draw.

Clark (1-13) trapped Admad Elech (14) blw and Rayner (4-27) then took four successive wickets to remove Damian Shirazi (15), Mylo Wilkin (15), Rob White (12) and Oliver Wilkin – but Huw Jones (32 not out) and Peploe (17no) took Ealing to 134-5 at the finish and secured the lion’s share of the spoils.

The chairman of Hampstead’s playing committee, Nick Brown, said: “I think we need to recognise that our race is run for 2014.

“It’s a bitter pill to swallow as I’m confident that we are at least as good as anyone in the league and should have done better, but what’s done is done and we need to reflect on 2014 as a disappointing season.

“Saturday was a very hard-fought and tense game. It wasn’t a great surface but I think had the rain not intervened it would have produced a thrilling finish.

“As it turned out the rain helped Ealing get the winning draw as the shortened run chase worked in their favour. But, in the bigger picture, it didn’t help them take a shot at winning the game, which I think was their real target – and that would have favoured us too as we needed to win to keep our hopes alive.

“We will try to win our last two games as the league deserves that integrity – and as we play Finchley, who are trying to avoid relegation, and Twickenham, who are taking a run at the title, there will be plenty of clubs looking at our results.”

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