Gamble pays off as Hampstead beat basement boys Southgate to close in on the top

Jaahid Ali hit an unbeaten 126 at a run a ball in Hampstead's victory over Southgate. Pic: Paolo Min

Jaahid Ali hit an unbeaten 126 at a run a ball in Hampstead's victory over Southgate. Pic: Paolo Minoli - Credit: Archant

Hampstead closed in on the top, beating basement boys Southgate by 104 runs and picking up the maximum possible 13 points as leaders Ealing slipped up with a home defeat against Finchley in the Premier Division of the Middlesex County Cricket League.

Steve Clark took the risk of choosing to bat first, and he was rewarded as Jaahid Ali (126 not out) and Jamie Gibson (89) helped the hosts to declare on 304-5 after 57 overs at Lymington Road.

Home captain Clark then took 4-57 as Southgate were bowled out for exactly 200 in 50.5 overs.

Hampstead are now seven points off the top in third place, and they face the two teams above them – second-placed Richmond and Ealing – in their next two games.

The chairman of Hampstead’s playing committee, Nick Brown, said: “We knew it was a gamble to bat first but felt that, against a team that are finding their way in the Premier League and with us having to make up ground on Ealing, the extra three points for a win batting first was worth the gamble. The game went almost exactly to plan.

“We’re delighted for Jaahid, he thoroughly deserved his hundred. There was something of an inevitability about it once he got to 30, he never looked like getting out.

“He just kept it very simple, patiently accumulating the ones and twos and hitting the bad balls for boundaries. In truth it was much the same for Jamie, it was a real surprise when he got out.”

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The opening pair of Clark (24) and George Adair (26) took Hampstead to 60-2 and Gibson and Ali then added 150 together.

Gibson was caught on 89 but Ali went on to pass his ton and reach an undefeated 126 off the same number of deliveries, while Ragheb Aga (12) and Liam Hughes (23) helped to take the score past 300 before the declaration.

Clark (4-57) took the first three wickets when Southgate replied, and Will Roberts (3-47) also claimed three scalps in succession as 83-3 became 92-6.

Faisal Mir (35) and Suresh Kalagara (59) led a recovery with an 88-run partnership, but the drinks break upset their concentration and Clark had Mir caught with the first ball after the resumption.

Archie Fellowes then wrapped up the tail, picking up the last three wickets to record figures of 3-11.

“It proved to be really hard work with the ball, we threw everything at Southgate,” said Brown. “We have a predominantly seam-based bowling attack and that isn’t perfectly suited to our wicket, particularly on a hot day like Saturday, so it was a tremendous effort from all of them to keep pounding in.

“We have big games in the next two weeks, against Richmond and then Ealing. Ealing losing on Saturday has allowed both Richmond and ourselves to get back in touch at the top so there is plenty at stake.

“We will both have to assume that Southgate will struggle against Ealing, so I expect both teams will be all out to win the game. It could make quite a spectacle.”