Hampstead move into pole position in Premier Division title race

Jamie Gibson was Hampstead's highest scorer against Stanmore on Saturday, falling just one run short

Jamie Gibson was Hampstead's highest scorer against Stanmore on Saturday, falling just one run short of a half-century. Pic: Max Flego - Credit: Max Flego

Hampstead have moved to the top of the Premier Division in the Middlesex County League after a home win over Stanmore extended their winning run to four games.

The wickets were shared around as Stanmore were bowled out for 154 at Lymington Road and George Adair (32), Jamie Gibson (49) and Jaahid Ali (31) then batted well as the hosts triumphed at 155-6 in the 47th over of their reply.

That took Hampstead above the previous leaders Richmond, who could only manage a winning draw against third-placed Ealing. And, having won the title for the first time in 2013, they are in pole position to take the crown again as the top flight returns to a 50-over format for the final four weeks.

“It’s exciting to be still in the title hunt,” said the chairman of Hampstead’s playing committee, Nick Brown. “Although a lot of people may be looking forward to a ‘title decider’ against Richmond on the final day of the season, I haven’t written off Ealing yet.

“They have won all of their 50-over matches and there’s no reason to think they won’t win the rest as well, so that means we need to win at least three out of the last four.”

Hampstead captain Steve Clark inserted Stanmore on Saturday and Gibson (2-28) removed both of the opening batsmen while Ragheb Aga (2-39) took two of the next three wickets as 56-2 became 59-5.

The sixth-wicket pair added 45 but Clark prised out Stanmore’s top scorer Grant Reingold (37) and his replacement Tushaar Karia (6) – and although Stanmore reached 154-7, they lost their last three wickets without adding to that score as Archie Fellowes (2-26) and Fred Fairhead (1-6) wrapped up the tail.

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Hampstead lost Clark (2) early in their reply, but his fellow opener Adair put on 60 alongside Gibson – and Gibson and Ali then took the hosts to 110-2.

They suffered a wobble after Gibson’s dismissal as Aga (7), Jonathan Dunne (0) and Ali (31) followed him back to the pavilion, but Fairhead (16 not out) and Jack Biddulph (11no) knocked off the required 23 runs to secure a four-wicket victory.

“It was a very hard-earned win, Stanmore bowled really well,” said Brown. “It was probably the best team bowling effort against us this season - they made us work all the way.

“It was another good performance with the ball and the catching was also good, but the ground fielding was as bad as we’ve been all season.

“We spread the wickets around again, that’s been the story of the season. We’ve only had two five-fors and they were just in the last two weeks. That’s not a concern, though - that flexibility has served us very well and will continue to do so as we head back into the 50- over matches.

“It was a tough chase. We were indebted to George, Jamie and Jaahid – they’ve broken the back of a number of totals this season and they did it again on Saturday.

“Liam Hughes will be back next week and, for the run-in, that’s very important. He’s a big player for us.”