Mixed feelings for Brondesbury and Hampstead after draw at Harman Drive
14:43 11 August 2014
Basement boys Brondesbury earned the lion’s share of the spoils in a draw against title challengers Hampstead, who missed the chance to go top of the Premier Division in the Middlesex County Cricket League.
However, Bron slipped further away from safety in the relegation battle while, conversely, Hampstead moved one point closer to the summit.
Hampstead captain Steve Clark took 5-60 at Harman Drive but hosts Brondesbury posted 261, and their visitors could only reach 196-8 in reply with a slower run-rate – despite Freddie Fairhead’s top score of 72.
That should have been good news for home captain John Fosbraey as his side picked up the winning draw - but the fact that relegation rivals Finchley and Stanmore both won their matches means they are now 14 points from safety instead of 12.
Meanwhile, Hampstead missed the opportunity to leapfrog Ealing and Teddington – who were both defeated – and move into pole position.
Instead they dropped from third place to fifth, but they simultaneously moved a point closer to leaders Ealing as the top five tightened up, all lying within eight points of each other.
The chairman of Hampstead’s playing committee, Nick Brown, said: “This was the sort of under-par performance that characterised the first half of the season and has given me sleepless nights. I thought we had put it behind us.
“This was a Brondesbury team that were low on confidence and we should have been able to capitalise on that, but we didn’t bowl or field well enough.
“I reckon they got at least 60 too many and scores of 260 are very seldom chased down, so it didn’t surprise me that we didn’t get them.
“The only positives are that Freddie Fairhead continued his good form with the bat and that we are one point closer to the top than we were at this time last week, so it’s not all bad news. We have got the ability to another winning run together, but it has to start next week.”
Fosbraey elected to bat at his home ground and Brondesbury made a steady start, with Christopher Blake (10), James Overy and Will Vanderspar taking them to 66-1.
However, that suddenly became 66-4 as Vanderspar (20) was caught and bowled by Clark, and Overy (16) was removed by Mark Jones (3-63) before Simon Butler was snared lbw by Mubasher Hassan (1-39) for a duck.
Brondesbury were in a precarious position but a 102-run partnership between Hugh Gimber (34) and Tom Shaw (49) turned the innings around, leading them to 168-5.
Clark removed the pair in quick succession, with Shaw falling one run short of his half-century, but the tail wagged as the last four wickets produced more than 90 runs.
Alex Shoff added 10 and Adam Wilson notched 43 before they were both prised out by Jones, leaving Brondesbury 234-8.
Rob Nelson then contributed 11 while Sam Smith notched 21 before they were dismissed by Clark, who claimed his fourth and fifth wickets to leave Brondesbury all out for 261 after 60.4 overs.
Clark was less effective with the bat, departing for a duck at the start of Hampstead’s reply, and his replacement Hassan could only add make six before being caught off Nelson (3-66).
Ragheb Aga started brightly, hitting 14 off 12 balls, but he was then caught off Smith (1-37), leaving Hampstead 44-3.
Opener Archie Fellowes and Fairhead added 51 together, but 95-3 became 95-5 as Nelson removed Fellowes (35) and then Matt Kabir Floyd (0).
Danger man Fairhead shared a half-century partnership with Charlie Cooke but he was finally snared lbw by Fosbraey (1-31), having hit 72 off 77 balls.
Cooke was next to go, run out for 18, and although Jordan Price (13) and Desmond O’Leary (28 not out) added 30 together for the eighth wicket, Hampstead finished behind the run-rate at 196-8 when their 59 overs elapsed.