North Middlesex in buoyant mood ahead of opening-day derby clash

NORTH Middlesex will hope for a replay of a recent friendly with Hornsey when the sides clash again this weekend, having beaten their local rivals in a warm-up match in April.

Hornsey, who won promotion to Division Two last summer, were bowled out for 145 and neighbouring North Midd reached their target with six wickets down, thanks to an unbeaten knock of 68 from opener Adam Holmes.

The Park Road side also received a confidence boost from another warm-up win over North London last weekend, with Alex Hill (61) starring with the bat.

It has certainly been an encouraging pre-season for a side who have harboured ambitions of promotion for the last few years, only to be frustrated on every occasion.

“We’ve finished in the top four for the last four seasons. Every year we say we’re aiming for the top two and we don’t quite do it, but hopefully this will be the year,” said James Nightingale, who will open the bowling.

“We’ve got a far more competitive first team now and a much stronger second and third team, so it all bodes well.”

Joe Hewton, a 23-year-old lawyer, has joined the club after moving to London, having previously played for Taunton Deane in the Western England Premier Division.

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He will be an asset to the batting line-up but is also an able wicketkeeper, and will provide competition for the team’s established gloveman, Hill.

North Midd have also signed the fast bowler Dexter Thomas, formerly of Hampstead CC, and another paceman in Umar Malik.

Darren Eckford (pictured) has stayed on as the club’s overseas player, but Evan Flowers’ outfit have lost Brad Sculley, who departed two-thirds of the way through last summer, and Greg Arnold, who made a handful of appearances in 2010.