Jones adds valuable late runs as Hampstead hold on to top spot

Hampstead's Rob Jones struck 20 off the final over away at Finchley. Pic: Max Flego

Hampstead's Rob Jones struck 20 off the final over away at Finchley. Pic: Max Flego - Credit: Archant

Rob Jones hit an unbeaten 32 off 22 balls, including 20 in the last over, as Hampstead maintained their place at the top by beating Finchley.

Having been well-placed at 199-4, Hampstead lost three quick wickets and were indebted to Jones’ knock as the seventh-wicket pair added 40 and took the visitors up to 244-7 at the end of their allotted 50 overs.

Those late runs were crucial because, after initially struggling to 91-6, a partnership of 97 got Finchley right back into the contest, and they were only 15 runs behind when they were bowled out with two overs remaining.

Hampstead were asked to bat and, although Jonathan Dunne (9) departed early, Jamie Gibson (25) and captain Steve Clark (46) led a recovery – and Jaahid Ali and Liam Hughes then added 50 together before Freddie Fairhead (23) replaced Ali (38) at the crease.

The visitors reached 199-4 but Fairhead was caught off the bowling of Joseph Emmanuel (4-33), and Hughes (50) and Jack Biddulph (2) quickly followed, leaving Hampsted 204-7.

But Jones took the attack to the bowlers in the final overs, alongside Charlie Wedgwood (7 not out), as the pair took their side to a more defendable total of 244.

Finchley looked set to fall well short as they lost regular wickets in reply, with Clark taking 3-40 and Will Roberts having the dangerous opener Cameron Steel (49) caught as the hosts slumped to 91-6.

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Sumeet Sharma (47) and Hassan Khan (66) then put on 97 together, but the introduction of Hughes (2-23) was important as he had Sharma caught by Jones, who promptly ran out Sunil Tailor (4).

Finchley were still closing in on their target, but Frahan Butt (12) was caught off Roberts and, while the home side made it to 229-9 with a little more than two overs left, Hughes had Khan caught to win the game.

The chairman of Hampstead’s playing committee, Nick Brown, said: “We should have George Adair, Ragheb Aga and Archie Fellowes back available next Saturday, when we entertain North Middlesex.

“They have been struggling for runs recently but they have a good seam bowling attack and had the best of our game earlier in the season, so there is no chance that we will take them lightly.”