A win for the 1st XI and defeat for Ealing sees Richmond on the brink of the title.
Richmond's 1st XI took a massive step towards the Middlesex League title as they beat 3rd placed North Middlesex in a tense, low-scoring match and nearest rivals Ealing collapsed for the second time this year as victory seemed certain. The results leave Richmond needing just 5 points from their remaining 3 matches to be certain of becoming Champions for the first time since 2004.
Meanwhile the 3's recorded a comprehensive win over Eastcote but the 2's and 4's were both beaten badly. The 5's match was cancelled because of the heavy rain on Thursday and Friday.
North Middlesex arrived at Old Deer Park, claiming full availability and determined to haul themselves back into title race. They won the toss and batted but soon found themselves in deep trouble as they went hard from the off.
Richmond's bowling throughout was excellent. As usual David Burton bowled well at both the start and end of the innings, whilst the spin combination of Adam London, Abhishek Jhunjhunwala andAbdullah Nazir was too much for North Middlesex's aggression. Good catches were held, wickets tumbled and the visitors were all out for 104 off 35.1 overs. Abhi's 3 wickets moved his league tally to 40, making him the leading wicket taker in the Premier League.
A small target can often be tricky and well that Richmond's batting has preformed this year, the chase was not a comfortable one. Cormac McLoughlin and Greg King went early and, whilst Ben Compton and Abhi seemed to have steadied the ship, the latter fell immediately after the lunch break to leave Richmond 33 for 3. When Adam was dismissed with the score on 46, Richmond's middle order needed to come to the fore. Daniel Stanley put on 31 with Compo before he was dismissed. Bhavesh Pankhania then joined Compo and together they seemed to have guided us home but when Ben was dismissed with 11 still required, once again the nerves were jangling. However the experience and determination of Alex Griffiths with a couple of well-struck boundaries saw us over the line and another victory, the 13th of the season.
Meanwhile, needing 36 to win with 6 wickets in hand and time to spare, Ealing seemed to be cruising to a win at Finchley. Back at ODP we were following the live scoring over the internet and as wickets started to fall, hope began to grow. Suddenly Ealing had lost 8 wickets and still required 16 to win. Would they collapse as they had a couple of weeks ago against Teddington? As we watched and waited, 8 became 9 and then the screen refreshed to show that Finchley had won! Cue minor mayhem at ODP. The League is not won yet but its very close.
At Hampstead, Richmond's batting once again let the 2's down. Only 3 players got into double figures with Stephen Bail's 56 the stand-out performance. The target of 121 was pretty straightforward for Hampstead who cantered home for the loss of 3 wickets. The defeat leaves the 2's in 4th place.
Max Read was the star of the show for the 3's. His first Richmond hundred - 123 - was the cornerstone of Richmond's total of 278 for 8. 15 year old Dru Shori took 4 for 10 as Eastcote were dismissed for just 118. The win pushes the 3's into 3rd place
The 4's bowled Middlesex Tamils 3's out for 225 with 4 wickets for Dhruva Preston and 3 for Hamza Sajawal. However Richmond's batting never fired and we were dismissed for 149. The 4's remain in 5th position.
Meanwhile, Richmond's Under 17's are Middlesex Cup winners after their Final opponents Stoke Newington conceded the match. This win is the club's 4th Junior Age Group county trophy.