North Middlesex skipper: Our bowling attack can take us to the title

Joel Hughes has taken 100 wickets for North Middlesex in the Premier Division. Pic: Paolo Minoli

Joel Hughes has taken 100 wickets for North Middlesex in the Premier Division. Pic: Paolo Minoli - Credit: Archant

North Middlesex secured their fourth straight Premier Division victory after beating second-placed Teddington by two runs – and captain Tom Nicoll believes the strength of his side’s bowling attack means they have a shot at the title.

North Midd suffered familiar problems with the bat, being bowled out for 103, but Joel Hughes (5-47) and Nicoll (3-19) – the leading two wicket-takers in the Premier Division - then rattled through the hosts’ order, leaving them 74-9.

There was more late drama as Teddington’s last pair reached 101, two runs behind their visitors’ total.

However, David Keightley (7) was then caught by Joe Cracknell off the bowling of Ed Bird (2-29) as the visitors secured a thrilling victory.

Hughes’ five-for included his 100th Premier Division wicket since he joined North Midd three seasons ago, while Nicoll has now had 16 victims in his last three league matches.

The skipper said: “Four straight wins have left us only 11 points off the top of the league and, with our bowling attack, we must be in with a shout. “The lads did very well to bounce back from another poor batting performance, digging deep to bowl out a strong batting side who have successfully chased over 300 this season.

“Teddington bowled well, getting good seam movement, and fielded well. Our heads were down a bit at the changeover, but early wickets gave us hope and we looked set for an unexpectedly comfortable win when they were 74-9.

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“In a low-scoring game it seemed highly unlikely that their last pair would put on the 30 needed to win, but they very nearly did.

“Having beaten last year’s champions [Hampstead] with two balls to spare a fortnight ago, this was another very close-run thing – watching the Midd this season is seldom dull!”

North Middlesex’s second and third teams also beat their Teddington counterparts, and on Sunday the Crouch End outfit’s senior side beat Stanmore to reach the final of the Middlesex Twenty20 competition for the third year in a row.

Luke Hollman hit 32 as North Midd posted 155-9 in the semi-final, and Nicoll then took 6-11 from four overs as Stanmore were bowled out for 135 with the penultimate delivery. Osterley and Shepherd’s Bush will meet in the other semi-final.