REPORT BY SCOTT MCHUGH: Danny Pawson proved the key man for Heywood as they edged a thrilling T20 QF clash with Monton at Quaker Bridge.
The Heywood CC skipper shared a brilliant 79 run partnership with pro Rob Nicol to help Heywood post a challenging – if not slightly less-than-hoped-for – total of 148, then, with Monton seemingly heading for victory, took a crucial catch in the deep and picked up three vital wickets in an over to take his side to a nail-biting five-run victory.
This fails to even begin to tell the story of a pulsating game of cricket, that saw marvellous batting, some great fielding and a spell of fast bowling that ranks with the most devastating seen by an amateur in the CLL in recent times. All this in front of a Sky team putting together a Club Life feature on Heywood. The full match itself, broadcast live, would have entertained viewers across the land.
Heywood won the toss and batted first against a Monton side who are fast developing into an impressive side and who were shorn of pro Simon Harmer, who was apparently hemmed in by traffic in the Midlands.
Liam Mason took the early initiative with some solid striking over the leg side, and he and pro Nicol made steady progress against a Monton side that decided not to throw key fast bowler Jake Sandham into the fray early on.
Furqan Shafiq’s off spin and the pace of overseas amateur Niki Bouwer were to the liking of Mason and Nicol, the New Zealander showing great restraint to wait for the bad balls, working the good balls into space and turning ones into twos at every opportunity.
Mason was the main aggressor, but he edged a ball to backward point off the spin of Shafiq for an excellent 35. This brought in Pawson, and the left-hander was instantly in the thick of it, advancing down the track and hitting with power all around the ground. Nicol started advancing down the track to the slower bowlers, and he brought up his 50 with another boundary.
But with Heywood looking set for a score in excess of 160, Sandham was unleashed and he turned things around in style. He bowled Nicol for 60 to pick up his first wicket, then in the next over Pawson followed when he was bowled by Lenihan and Cross didn’t last long either.
However, with two overs to go Heywood were still on 146-4 and still could have got to 160 if it were not for a sensational burst from Sandham. He trapped Wes Hunt and Sean Burrill leg before with successive balls, brought up his hat-trick by bowling Mikey Grogan, then made it an incredible four in four balls when he did the same to Latham.
Heywood stumbled to 148 all out, an amazing slump from 142-2 but testament to the skills of Sandham. Heywood fans were left to wonder if he had been brought on too late, should he have opened the bowling, and had Monton won, this would not have mattered.
The home side made a great start through the multi-talented Shafiq, who hit 11 off Nicol’s first over, while Hindle got stuck into Simon Dawson, who was struggling with a muscle injury. He had to bowl his overs as Heywood were without the likes of Joe Lovell, Humza Naeem and Jon Keyworth, but he did account for Shafiq, smartly caught by brother Andy at deep square leg.
Sandham then took over with the bat, hitting cleanly and out of the ground as Heywood were rocked, firstly by Sandham and Hindle, then by Sandham and Bouwer.
But he tried one big shot too many against Nicol and was brilliantly caught at long-on by Pawson. Bouwer continued to play well but wickets were falling at the other end and the pressure was starting to mount.
With Andy Dawson back from one end and Pawson at the other, Heywood now had their two best bowlers in the right place at the right time.
Seventeen were needed off the last two overs and Pawson made this almost impossible with a brilliant fourth over, picking up firstly the wicket of Bouwer, and then the Collins brothers with successive balls.
This left Andy Dawson to bowl the last over with 12 needed. He was hit for four by Aamir Riaz, but then had Lee Morris caught by Bobby Cross at extra cover and bowled out well to deny Monton and bring forth a surge of emotion from fans and players.
This was a superb game of cricket at one of the top grounds in the Central Lancashire League. Monton deserve massive credit for playing so well without Harmer, but I don’t know how long they can keep Sandham from the county game. His skills with the ball and ability to hit long and hard make him a sure-fire success in the professional game, and if Lancashire don’t want him I’m sure other counties will.
Final mention must go to Heywood’s young side, who were well-led by Pawson and showed commendable bottle, effort and athleticism in the field.
L Mason c Nawaz b Shafiq 35
R Nicol b Sandham 60
D Pawson b Lenihan 43
R Cross lbw b Lenihan 1
A Dawson not out 3
W Hunt lbw b Sandham 0
S Burrill lbw b Sandham 0
M Grogan b Sandham 0
D Latham b Sandham 0
S Dawson b Bouwer 0
K Cross run out 1
Total (20 overs) 148
Fall of wickets: 1-63, 2-142, 3-142, 4-146, 5-146, 6-146, 7-146, 8-146, 9-147, 10-148
Bowling: F Shafiq 4-0-39-1, N Bouwer 3-0-20-1, J Lenihan 4-0-23-2, A Nawaz 1-0-6-0, A Riaz 4-0-39-0, J Sandham 4-0-19-5
F Shafiq c A Dawson b S Dawson 16
C Hindle c R Cross b S Dawson 24
J Sandham c Pawson b Nicol 42
N Bouwer c A Dawson b Pawson 39
J Lenihan run out 4
C Collins lbw b Pawson 3
D Collins b Pawson 0
L Morris c R Cross b A Dawson 2
A Riaz not out 5
T Coe not out 1
Total (for 8 wkts, 20 overs) 143
Fall of wickets: 1-21, 2-55, 3-93, 4-96, 5-132, 6-132, 7-135, 8-142
Bowling: R Nicol 4-0-26-1, S Dawson 4-0-38-2, A Dawson 4-0-32-1, K Cross 4-0-33-0, D Pawson 4-0-16-3