In-form Hampstead firmly in Premier Division title battle

Hampstead have a huddle (pic: George Phillipou/TGS Photo).

Hampstead have a huddle (pic: George Phillipou/TGS Photo). - Credit: George Phillipou/TGS Photo

Nick Brown discussed the current picture at the top of the Middlesex County Premier Division

With five games left this season, Hampstead have forced their way into the Middlesex County Premier Division title race along with several other teams.

For a long period, it appeared the championship battle was between Ealing - the current leaders - and North Middlesex.

However, both have stuttered in recent weeks and it has allowed Matt Watson's side to go third and be just eight points off top spot.

Not far behind the Lymington Road outfit are Teddington and Richmond as a two-horse race has quickly turned into five heading into the campaign finale.

Hampstead chairman Nick Brown said: "In my role as League Secretary, I'm delighted we have so many teams involved at the top.

"There's five maybe six that still have a chance to win the league and I don't recall the last time we've had that, it's exciting."

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Most pleasing for Brown is the fact Hampstead are in there and they deserve to be after a superb run of form.

Watson's team have won four of their last five fixtures and not lost since June to storm into the title battle with momentum crucially behind them.

Last weekend, Hampstead got home with two wickets to spare against Finchley in a thrilling timed contest.

The visitors won the toss and batted first, declaring on 251-7 off 65 overs with Tej Sheopuri's 109 the mainstay of their innings.

Rich Banham (2-35) and Ajit Sambhi (2-81) bowled well to keep the run-rate down and Hampstead fancied their chances of chasing it down, but needed a good start.

Although Jack Biddulph was out for 17, Mubasher Hassan and Sam Evison put on 69 before the hosts' opener Hassan was caught five short of a half-century.

Evison remained at the crease and despite losing partners, top scored with 74 off 120 balls and found a key ally in Suresh Peiris, who struck a breezy 51.

When they were both out, the onus fell on captain Watson and he delivered for Hampstead to get them home with 34 not out and continue their unbeaten run.

Next up for the Lymington Road club is a clash at Twickenham, Brown said: "We're playing good cricket right now, our batting looks much more solid, we're getting contributions up and down the line up and our bowling has good variation and discipline.

"It has been good to watch and spectators watching Hampstead games have seen three terrific games in the last three weeks."