Hampstead march over the Hill to stride clear at the summit

Tom Smith bowls for Hampstead

Tom Smith bowls for Hampstead - Credit: Archant

Tom Smith took eight wickets as Hampstead took a giant step towards the Premier Division title at the weekend, beating Winchmore Hill while their biggest rivals suffered a damaging defeat.

Middlesex CC man Smith took 8-59 as struggling Winchmore Hill were skittled for 156, and Ragheb Aga then hit an unbeaten 59 as Hampstead reached 160-6 at their Lymington Road home. Meanwhile, second-placed Ealing went down by 17 runs at home against Finchley, leaving Hampstead 18 points clear at the top.

The chairman of the club’s playing committee, Nick Brown, said: “We have three games left – the next two away from home at Stanmore and Teddington.

“They both have matchwinners in their respective teams, so we will need to play well to get positive results.

“That said, the Middlesex League is full of good players, so it’s the same tough challenge we face every week.”

Hampstead captain Steve Clark inserted the visitors and, although Middlesex’s Scott Newman and Morgan Prior raced to 72-0 off 12 overs, the skipper removed Newman (57) – and spinner Smith then took over.

Chris Beaumont-Dark (1-3) accounted for Tim Royall (10) but Smith took the other eight wickets, removing the last three men for ducks and leave Winchmore Hill all out for 156 in 43.2 overs.

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“We were delighted that we were able to call on Tom Smith – it gave everyone a lift and certainly made a difference on the field,” said Brown.

“He has certainly got a large injection of confidence from his spell with Gloucestershire and he was tremendous for us. Without being disrespectful to the Hill batters he faced, he was too good for them and 8-65 reflected that.”

The chase was no formality as Jim Gatting (4-40) took four quick wickets, getting rid of Clark (13), Mubasher Hassan (0), Jaahid Ali (1) and Liam Hughes (21).

When opener Smith (28) was caught and bowled by Ryan Corns, Hampstead were in trouble at 77-5.

However, Aga and Charlie Cooke put on 33 runs together, and when Cooke (7) was trapped lbw, Robert Jones (23 not out) joined Aga (59no) and the pair took the hosts to victory at 160-6 after 47.2 overs.

“Ragz played brilliantly, we have missed him very much with both bat and ball,” said Brown. “He delivered with the bat, and as his fitness is progressing we hope to be able to get the new ball in his hands again soon as well.”