REPORT BY SCOTT MCHUGH: Heywood were on the wrong end of a super Littleborough performance in Sunday’s Wood Cup quarter-final clash at Hare Hill.
Home skipper Clinton Perren showed all the class in the world to score a chanceless 132 that set his side on the way to a formidable total of 295-4 off their 50 overs.
Then his side’s bowlers kept their nerve in the face of an excellent century from Heywood skipper Danny Pawson and half-century from pro Rob Nicol to dismiss Heywood for 219 and book themselves a place in the semis.
Heywood won the toss and inserted Littleborough and they took full advantage of a true wicket. They lost Gary Hulme for 11 to Andy Dawson, but with brother Simon unable to bowl with anything like his usual vigour, Heywood’s attack seemed to lack the potency to cause Perren and Chris Schofield enough problems.
Humza Naeem was probably the pick of the pace bowlers, but no one else was able to exercise any control and the two former professionals were simply brilliant. They found singles routinely, and were savage on anything that was short or over-pitched. It was a but if a surprise when Schofield was out – a brilliant piece of fielding off Nicol’s own bowling saw him run out – but this brought pro Mohammed Khan to the crease and he settled in while Perren moved serenely past his century.
Perren smashed a couple of big sixes before being caught by Bobby Cross on the long-on boundary, but Khan was equally punishing to the latter overs of Nicol and the rest of the Heywood attack, and their huge target was always going to be massively testing.
Heywood suffered a major blow when Cross was well-caught by Barnes at backward point, then lost Wes Hunt to the same man off the same bowler, Joe Smith Butler.
Pawson and Nicol consolidated and punched the ball around the big Hare Hill outfield, smashing the odd one for four but keeping the run rate ticking over.
The chase was always just possible as long as these two were at the crease, but once Nicol went, trying to smash Matthew Hodson but only finding midwicket, for 64, the game looked to be almost up.
However, skipper Pawson was still playing beautifully and if someone could have come in and played with a bit of power and urgency, the left-hander could have, maybe, taken his side closer to victory.
He hit some huge hits into the nearby park and passed his century to warm applause from a generous crowd, but he was caught on the long-off boundary by Hulme off Hodson soon after, and it was game over.
Hodson bowled straight and full and earned himself six wickets as Heywood quickly succumbed to 219 all out.
This was a fine all-round effort from a Littleborough side finding their best form at the right end of the season. Hare Hill was in excellent condition and it will be a real shame that in two weeks time we will make our last league visit to this historic ground.
C Perren c Cross b Nicol 132
G Hulme c Lovell b A Dawson 11
C Schofield run out 75
M Z Khan not out 45
J Smith-Butler c Lovell b A Dawson 1
M Taylor not out 11
Total (for 4 wkts, 50 overs) 295
Fall of wickets: 1-33, 2-189, 3-254, 4-273
Bowling: H Naeem 10-0-41-0, A Dawson 10-0-47-2, S Dawson 3-0-20-0, J Lovell 4-0-23-0, S Wright 7-0-38-0, D Pawson 7-0-35-0, R Nicol 9-0-71-1
R Cross c Barnes b Smith-Butler 10
W Hunt c Barnes b Smith-Butler 2
R Nicol c Schofield b Hodgson 64
D Pawson c Hulme b Hodgson 103
S Wright lbw b Schofield 1
D Latham c Roche b Hodgson 5
S Burrill b Khan 8
A Dawson b Hodgson 9
J Lovell c Khan b Hodgson 12
H Naeem not out 0
S Dawson b Hodgson 0
Total (45 overs) 219
Fall of wickets: 1-16, 2-21, 3-147, 4-142, 5-159, 6-192, 7-198, 8-219, 9-219, 10-219
Bowling: M Burns 8-1-26-0, J Smith-Butler 7-2-23-2, M Z Khan 8-0-46-1, M Taylor 8-0-44-0, C Schofield 6-0-37-1, M Hodson 7-0-29-6, P Deakin 1-0-13-0
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