YES, it was decided on run rate after rain washed out the closing moments of a game still finely balanced.
But Heywood’s victory over Delph at Crimble in the third round of the Royal London National Club Championship was unanticipated to say the least.
Delph rattled up 246-5 from 40 overs, a target which placed a great onus on Heywood’s top batting order in a “scratch” side.
When Bobby Cross, 59, and Danny Pawson, 40, were then sent packing to leave Heywood on 146-4 it seemed that the home side’s fading hopes rested mainly on professional Travis Townsend and Andy Dawson.
After all, the rest of the batting line-up was made up of four second team regulars – Rob Bennett, Mikey Grogan, Jacob Kaye and Tom Pagett – plus Graeme Taylor, who had played just one third team match following a long absence from the club.
But Dawson in particular, who only returned from holiday the previous day, rose to the occasion with a belligerent 25 from 16 balls to get the team back above the required rate in an unbeaten stand of 44 with Townsend. All this with storm clouds gathering.
And when the umpires finally relented to the increasingly persistent rain the home side were back in front of the rate although still needing a further 57 off 52 balls.
Really, however, there was no feasible chance of the players getting back on to the field meaning that Heywood are now in the Royal London area final for a second successive year – with a trip to Bolton region side Bradshaw a week on Sunday, June 24.
Delph were also missing a few key players. But you could forgive them for thinking that their score of 246 at a rate of just more than six-per-over would be enough to see them through.
They were led by a dashing century from Graham Simpson, well known to followers of former Central Lancashire League days. His unbeaten 101 was made off just 75 balls, and he received notable support from Nathan Jones, 52, and Luke Hargreaves, 33.
They capitalised on Heywood’s makeshift attack containing just three regular senior bowlers in Dawson, Townsend and Pawson. With five players limited to a maximum of eight overs each, it meant skipper Townsend had to rely on 16 overs being ‘cobbled together’ by the rest of the team.
Senior regular Sean Burrill supplied four of them in his first stint with the ball this season; Mikey Grogan and Taylor made up another four; and the real bonus came in the shape of Pagett.
The 17-year-old, who shaped well on his senior debut in the T20 win at Littleborough nine days earlier, came as on second change in the attack for what most people envisaged would be one, short spell.
But he responded admirably, bowling a solid line and length in the main with a shape of outswing. So his two key wickets were well deserved, earning figures of 2-36 from eight overs, and significant in the overall picture of the game.
Heywood’s chase suffered an early setback when Kerr went for six with the total 29, only for Cross and Pawson to take up the mantle.
They put together a partnership of 97 and, at 126-1 with half the overs left, the chase was bang on track.
Then both fell to Chris Tipper within 13 runs of each other, Burrill was run out for two and at 146-4 with now just 14 overs and three balls scheduled to be bowled Delph looked odds-on to go through.
Enter Dawson to join Townsend, however. And the former in particular brought back memories of his trademark attacking style while Townsend provided the solid base at the other end, to put Heywood back in contention when the rain had the final say.
M Hussain c Cross b Pawson 19
N Jones c Pawson b A Dawson 52
C Tipper c Townsend b Pagett 17
G Simpson not out 101
W Kasim c M Grogan b Pagett 0
L Hargreaves c A Dawson b Townsend 33
Total (for 5 wkts, 40 overs) 246
Fall of wickets: 1-30, 2-56, 3-153, 4-155, 5-246
Bowling: D Pawson 8-1-48-1, A Dawson 8-0-41-1, T Townsend 8-0-51-1, T Pagett 8-1-36-2, S Burrill 4-0-32-0, M Grogan 3-0-14-0, G Taylor 1-0-19-0
R Cross b Tipper 59
A Kerr c N Jones b Kasim 6
D Pawson st G Jones b Tipper 40
T Townsend not out 27
S Burrill run out 2
A Dawson not out 26
Total (for 4 wkts, 31.2 overs) 190
Fall of wickets: 1-29, 2-126, 3-139, 4-146
Bowling: W Kasim 5-0-28-1, U Yaqoob 5-1-24-0, D Jones 2-0-10-0, C Tipper 8-0-39-2, N Jones 3-0-41-0, G Simpson 7-0-31-0, Z Pemberton 1.2-0-13-0
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