Highgate and North London meet on opening day of Middlesex County Cricket League
09:00 08 May 2014
Max Flego Sports Photography
Highgate have a top-two finish in their sights after narrowly missing out on promotion from Division Three in the Middlesex County Cricket League last season.
Jake Sharland’s side finished third – just eight points off a promotion spot – last year, but they must cope without their overseas player, prolific all-rounder Carman Mapatuna, if they are to go one better and clinch a place in Division Two.
The Sri Lankan star has been replaced by William Russell, a batting all-rounder from Melbourne, while opening batsman Chris Arul has made a much shorter move from relegated Edmonton.
“Chris normally scored runs against us so it’ll be good to have him on the same side,” said Highgate vice-captain Nick Brunner.
“Last year was frustrating. We played Indian Gymkhana a couple of weeks before the end of the season, the game got rained off and they finished second – if we’d won that, we’d have been promoted. We’re looking to go up this year.”
Highgate, who are sponsored by Layzells Solicitors, open their campaign with a derby at home to neighbours North London, who are seeking a major improvement after flirting with relegation last year.
NL skipper Jack Atchinson feels there is plenty of cause for optimism – not least the form displayed by youngsters such as Freddie Issitt, Joe Burke, Ted Greally and Milo Jennings last season.
“We’ve been looking to recruit and add depth to our squad but we’ve also uncovered a few youth players who are only going to get better,” said Atchinson.
“They’ve given everyone more belief that they can play at this level and I think it’s inevitable that we’ll be pushing towards the top end of the table this year.
“Games against Highgate are always fun and there’s a bit of spice involved as well. It should be a great way to start the season.”
North London have brought in South African seamer Anees Davids as their new overseas player to replace wicketkeeper Ben Hocking.
Another of NL’s signings, Sam Bardon, has come from South Hampstead, but that is the only first-team player that SH have lost as they bid to improve on last season’s eighth-place finish in Division Three.
The Milverton Road outfit will have two overseas players – Indian wicketkeeper-batsman Sahil Kher and West Indian batsman Shamar Anderson – while seamer Umar Asif has arrived from Walthamstow and batsman Seb Rae has joined the club from Edinburgh University.
Captain James Williams said: “The aim is to gain promotion for the first team. We need more consistency than we had last summer.”