Club Cricket Conference

Sunday, 16th December 2018

Plucky Stanmore outshine even all-conquering Richmond

By Charles Randall

21 September 2018


Hardly possible, one might have thought, to steal the thunder from Richmond after they had stormed the Middlesex County League by a record margin, winning 16 of their 17 completed games.

Yet Stanmore, from the Middlesex second division, made their name as the first lower tier side to reach the final of the Royal London Club Championship final. They play Richmondshire for the national title at the Bristol County Ground on Sunday, September 23.

Stanmore - Angus Fraser and Mark Ramprakash are their best-known former players - bounced straight back from relegation by winning the second division, albeit narrowly. But the great sadness has been that their chairman Ross Chiese, a widely loved and respected former fast bowler, died unexpectedly at 67 of a rapid infection weeks before he could savour the club's remarkable double achievement.

Stanmore relied on all-round competence to achieve such a glorious season, based on the Reingold dynasty. Marc, the experienced left-arm spinner, enjoyed a fine summer with his all-rounder sons Steven and Grant, but the captain Tushaar Karia benefited from a reliable new seam attack in Rashid Mullahzada, all-rounder Ahmad Elech and Saul Anstey.

In the national semi-final Stanmore defeated the perennial Sussex champions Roffey with surprising ease at The Common. Steven Reingold (59) and Grant Reingold (32) helped Stanmore to 225-6 off their 40 overs. In reply Roffey slipped to 143 all out with Steven taking two wickets, Marc returning 1-26 in a miserly spell and Grant intervening with a run-out.

Richmondshire beat Northern easily enough in the other semi-final to reach their first national final. Their captain Gary Pratt, the former Durham batsman "who ran out Rick Ponting",  shone with the ball by taking 3-34 as visiting Northern struggled to 135 all out. Then Pratt hit 55 not out to guide his team home by seven wickets.

The Yorkshire club would be favourites at Bristol  on Sunday in view of their extraordinary quarter-final demolition of  Ormskirk, the 2017 beaten finalists. The match was reduced by rain to 10 overs, and Matthew McKiernan smashed 100 not out off 34 balls, including 10 sixes, to rack up an impregnable total of 158-2.

So from Richmond in Yorkshire to Richmond in London. The winners of the Middlesex League for the first time in 14 years blew their rivals out of the water with runs right down the order.

Greg King, the captain, reckoned the key to such overwhelming success had been a deep squad of 15 or 16 players with real first-team quality. "In the past we've fell short in real tight games," he told the league website, "but this year narrow wins at North Middlesex, Teddington and Hampstead gave us the belief.  I think we've played with a different attitude and also developed more know-how."

The former Middlesex batsman Adam London enjoyed a good season after his arrival at Richmond as director of cricket in 2017 from Sunbury. This success meant that London and another former Sunbury man Ben Compton had won both Surrey and Middlesex premier titles.

Compton scored 520 league runs at an average of 57.7 and London 519 at 47.1, but a string of batsman contributed, such as Will Phillips, Rob Gibson, Dan Stanley and Abhishek Jhunjhunwala. Spinner Jhunjhunwala finished with 43 wickets, and  Dave Burton, with 39 wickets, was reliable as the lead seam bowler.  Richmond took the title by 43 points, a  barely credible margin.

London had enjoyed more than his fair share share of success with Sunbury and now with Richmond. He said on the league website: "Sunbury  was a club where I had played since I was four years old, but with John Maunders running the coaching, my opportunities were restricted. I knew the chairman Chris Goldie through Middlesex CCC, and was happy to get the job. It took a bit of time to find my feet, and I made some changes within the academy, the structure and winter nets. Initially I planned to continue playing for Sunbury but it wasn't practical so I joined the senior side."

London added: "The standard in the two leagues is more or less the same, but the wickets in Surrey tend to be quicker and that was something I had to deal with. I like the ball coming onto the bat, and never been a real big hitter, so playing against nagging seamers on tracks which helped them, made me look at how I had to adjust my game and adapt. I'm much more comfortable against spin, and the dry summer has benefitted me, with quicker outfields."

The biggest wicket-taker by a seam bowler  in the three Middlesex divisions proved to be Dexter Marsh, a New Zealander law graduate on a gap year, with 46 wickets for Shepherds Bush. They beat runners-up Ealing for the first time in two decades after teenager Idris Otto-Mian had made 78 in a total of  238-9. Marsh made sure Ealing fell short.

Highgate finished in fine style when Craig Gourlay hit 102 and took 4-10 in a crushing win over Twickenham, but they were relegated with Brondesbury.

Stanmore and newcomers Harrow St Mary's were promoted from Division Two, leaving Enfield regretting a near-miss by one point. Enfield's season highlight was an opening stand of 268 against local rivals Southgate by Jack Plumb (111) and Les Edwards (138) to set up a big win.

Don Shelley retired as the Middlesex League fixture secretary after 45 years, a duty he carried out assiduously even while working as the Middlesex county scorer. Graham Pauncefort, the league president, paid tribute to a remarkable cricket enthusiast. "We owe Don an enormous debt of gratitude," he said.

Shelley started scoring for Shepherds Bush in the early 1960s before moving to Ealing in 1965.   He served as the Middlesex County scorer for many years, and a highlight came in 2012 when he scored for the MCC in the England versus West Indies Test at Lord's. He has scored for  Club Cricket Conference on three overseas tours and helped many wandering and representative sides.