REPORT BY STEVE MCHUGH: HEYWOOD can reflect on the positives and negative of their 47-run defeat at Monton and Weaste.
The positives were an outstanding spell of left-arm spin bowling from 12.4 overs by 14-year-old Jack Morley, whose 6-61 return had even the home supporters in glowing with praise; and impressive contributions with the bat by professional Rob Nicol, 81, and skipper Danny Pawson, 49.
The negative was another alarming lower order batting collapse after a 90-run second wicket stand between Nicol and Pawson had put Heywood in with a chance of chasing down Monton’s 231.
From 145-2 with 17 overs left, Heywood subsided to 184 all out. And the last six dismissed batsmen contributed just two runs between them. Enough said!
It was always going to be a tough ask for the visitors after Monton, led by impressive all-rounder Jake Sandham and South African professional Simon Harmer, had paved the way to a big total in a third-wicket stand of 80.
Simon Dawson was another Heywood player to emerge with credit after an opening 13-over spell of 2-49 accounted for Joe Kershaw and Ben Chapman.
But Sandham and Harmer then took control, and it was not until Morley came into the attack to bowl the 26th over that the tide started to change.
The youngster, showing great maturity, varied his pace and flight impressively. He cleaned up Harmer for 32, had Sandham superbly caught on the long-on boundary by Andy Dawson for 73, and bowled throughout for the rest of the innings.
Naturally, he came under pressure from the lower order Monton batsmen with the comfort of a good total already guaranteed, but still continued to account for the danger men – including Furqan Shafiq for 35 and Aamir Riaz for 32.
Two wickets in his last over clinched Morley’s six-wicket haul and he left the field to a generous ovation from both sets of fans.
A target of 232 was always going to be tough for Heywood, especially when Wes Hunt was run out backing up for two.
Nicol then found a good ally in Dale Latham, who gave himself time to get in before playing positively. So it was a shame when he lofted a tame return catch to Harmer for a contribution of 26.
Pawson stepped to the wicket to join Nicol and the pair dominated the Monton attack to such an extent that it clearly worried the home crowd while raising the expectations of the travelling support.
Both mixed attack and defence intelligently, but, just when the run chase showed signs of bearing fruit, Nicol was caught behind off Sandham for an excellent 81.
Monton smelled their chance and off-spinner Harmer returned to the attack to team up with Sandham, clearly the home side’s most potent bowlers.
They grabbed their chance with both hands, Sandham claiming the wicket of Liam Mason playing on, and then the crucial wicket of Pawson caught behind for 49 when he clearly deserved more for his classy contribution.
Then came the all too familiar collapse, with the last six wickets mustering just 14 runs and only 17-year-old Dominic Humphreys weathering the storm.
Ah, what might have been …
B Chapman b S Dawson 23
J Kershaw b S Dawson 0
J Sandham c A Dawson b Morley 73
S Harmer b Morley 32
F Shafiq c Nicol b Morley 35
J Lenihan c Lovell b Nicol 1
D Collins c and b Morley 6
L Morris run out 16
A Riaz c D Humphreys b Morley 32
A Nawaz c C Humphreys b Morley 0
T Coe not out 0
Total (49.4 overs) 231
Fall of wickets: 2-1, 44-2, 124-3, 159-4, 161-5, 172-6, 185-7, 227-8, 231-9, 231-10
Bowling: S Dawson 13-1-49-2, C Humphreys 9-1-31-0, D Pawson 3-0-23-0, J Morley 12.4-1-61-6, J Lovell 6-0-32-0, R Nicol 6-0-28-1
R Nicol c Kershaw b Sandham 81
W Hunt run out 2
D Latham c and b Harmer 26
D Pawson c Kershaw b Sandham 49
L Mason b Sandham 1
D Humphreys not out 5
A Dawson b Sandham 0
J Lovell lbw b Harmer 0
C Humphreys c Lenihan b Harmer 0
J Morley st Kershaw b Harmer 1
S Dawson c Sandham b Harmer 0
Total (45.2 overs) 184
Fall of wickets: 11-1, 55-2, 145-3, 164-4, 170-5, 172-6, 174-7, 181-8, 184-9, 184-10
Bowling: J Sandham 14-2-50-4, D Collins 7-1-21-0, A Riaz 5-0-28-0, S Harmer 12.2-1-33-5, F Shafiq 4-0-25-0, B Chapman 3-0-19-0