Sam Byrne and Rick Purser rescued Heywood Seconds from the brink of defeat to set up a thrilling Burton Cup final victory at Walsden yesterday.
They put on 62 for the final wicket to lead Heywood to a par total of 171 all out at Scott Street.
Then, with Dom Fawcett (2-19 off nine) the pick of the bowlers, Heywood stayed cool in the field to bowl Walsden out for 162, a nine-run victory and the first time since 1996 the seconds have won the Burton Cup.
Byrne won the man-of-the-match award for his splendid 35 and two wickets, but plaudits must go to everyone in the side for a performance that thrilled all who were there.
The win was especially sweet for 40-year-old skipper Roger Smethurst, who has given so much to the side and the club over the past 25 years and more.
His delight was evident when he was presented with the cup by league secretary Alan Wright, and no one at the club begrudged him his evening of celebrations, especially after last year’s near-miss in the final against Middleton.
Smethurst had earlier lost the toss and was put into bat, and must have wished he’d been given the chance to bowl as disaster lurked around every bowling change.
He was first to go, bowled by Harlow for four, as the pitch showed signs of spitting from a length, followed by the occasional one that skidded through.
Matt Hood looked in good nick, but he played a rash shot after hitting a lovely cover drive for four and was caught at cover of young opening bowler Chris Hanson.
Wickets fell at regular intervals after this as the runs dried up. Simon Dawson tried to up the scoring with three fours before he was bowled, and Mikey Grogan looked to be in good nick as Heywood failed to play straight against a disciplined Walsden attack.
Only Adam Fawcett showed any real stickability, taking his time over a 23 that provided some backbone to the innings, but he couldn’t get any help.
Heywood looked down and out on 109-9 with 11 overs remaining against a very strong Walsden side, when Purser joined Byrne at the crease.
What happened next will then go down in Heywood folklore. With the 56-year-old Purser showing the qualities that saw him score runs against some of the best pros in CLL history, Byrne played the aggressor’s role and looked every inch a top order batsmen as he hit runs all round Scott Street.
Every run was cheered by a good Heywood support, every boundary brought a standing ovation and very quickly the pair took Heywood past 150 and on to a total that could be defended.
They took it into the final over, and Byrne crowned a marvellous innings with a straight six off Hanson before being bowled for a quite superb 35 after the pair had put on 62 for the final wicket. Purser finished unbeaten on 14, and showed everyone else how to play on a difficult pitch.
Heywood’s total of 171 was far more than Walsden could and should have been chasing, and this was the catalyst for the excellent performance in the field that followed.
Smethurst’s side didn’t panic despite Stuart Hanson and fellow opener R Howley playing patiently and well in their bid to chase down 172 with no fuss.
But eventually Howley top-edged a slog off Purser – well caught by Smethurst – and then Dom Fawcett produced the outstanding spell of the match.
He immediately found a line and length and denied Walsden any scoring shots, and with Byrne bowling well at the other end, the wickets started to fall.
Byrne removed Hanson – brilliantly caught by Purser at slip – and Fawcett removed the dangerous Kris Halstead caught behind by Sean Burrill, and then D Howley in the same way.
Walsden were now 64-4, but the experienced Paul Marrow and Danny Bailey set about rebuilding the innings, surviving difficult drops by Burrill and Purser to put on 46 for the fifth wicket.
The match then swung Heywood’s way again, Byrne trapping Bailey leg before, then Grogan, moved uphill, bowling the second key spell of the day and trapping Marrow then Brown leg before in the same over.
Simon Dawson was left to bowl out down the hill and he kept things tight, bowling Harlow, then with Smethurst forced to bowl the third last over himself, the first of two late run outs left Walsden needing a miracle.
This wasn’t forthcoming, and Halstead was run out in the last over to spark wild celebrations from Heywood.
It was a performance full of grit and determination, but Smethurst’s captaincy cannot go by without mention.
His field placings were excellent, he never once panicked and his control and use of his bowlers was first class. His discipline on the pitch rubbed off on his younger players and he really led by example.
M Hood c K Halstead b C Hanson 14
R Smethurst b Harlow 4
D Fawcett c C Hanson b S Hanson 7
B Thulborn c and b Butcher 1
A Fawcett b M Halstead 23
S Dawson b M Halstead 13
M Grogan b Butcher 7
L Grogan c K Halstead b M Halstead 0
S Burrill b Harlow 9
S Byrne b S Hanson 35
R Purser not out 14
Total (49.5 overs) 171
Fall of wickets: 1-19, 2-26, 3-34, 4-35, 5-49, 6-78, 7-86, 8-94, 9-109, 10-171
Bowling: Harlow 10-2-37-2, C Hanson 10-2-40-1, Butcher 10-4-12-2, S Hanson 9.5-1-41-2, M Halstead 10-1-39-3
R Howley c Smethurst b L Grogan 21
S Hanson c Purser b Byrne 20
K Halstead c Burrill b D Fawcett 10
D Howley c Burrill b D Fawcett 0
D Bailey lbw b Byrne 21
P Marrow lbw b L Grogan 32
C Hanson not out 22
D Brown lbw b L Grogan 0
M Harlow b Dawson 8
M Butcher run out 9
M Halstead run out 2
Total (49.2 overs) 162
Fall of wickets: 1-39, 2-62, 3-62, 4-64, 5-110, 6-122, 7-122, 8-141, 9-156, 10-162
Bowling: Purser 10-3-17-0, Dawson 9.2-0-46-1, L Grogan 10-3-22-3, Byrne 10-0-41-2, D Fawcett 9-1-19-2, Smehurst 1-0-9-0
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