In the latest of a series of articles reflecting on some of the best cricketers to have played for Heywood, STEVE McHUGH looks at the achievements of the leading all-time amateur run-scorers for the Club.
Thanks for most of the facts and figures must go to the late Vernon Connolly and Flo Cromarty, and now David Cross – who has taken over the upkeep of the records, which now include all the Lancashire Knockout Cup and National Knockout Cup figures.
Bobby Cross has posted astonishing batting figures for Heywood Cricket Club that will almost certainly never be surpassed – and he has not finished yet!
The now 35-year-old, who made his senior debut in 1997 at the age of 14 and captained the side between 2004-13, has currently amassed 17,204 runs in 512 innings for the Club at an average of 40.01.
That includes 22 centuries and 106 half-centuries with a top score of 162 not out made at Middleton in a Wood Cup-tie in 2007.
Most of Bobby’s mammoth total was made during Heywood’s days in the Central Lancashire League, where he won the Sir Frank Worrell trophy for being the League’s top amateur run-scorer on a record seven occasions.
It’s an astonishing record for a player who has devoted his entire career to one club, a rarity in the era of modern-day League cricket, and he looks certain to improve his portfolio in years to come.
A measure of his statistical batting domination is reflected in the figures posted by the next player in the list, Danny Pawson, who made 7,546 runs in 11 seasons at the Club before moving on at the end of the 2018 campaign.
Danny came to Crimble from Milnrow as a 17-year-old and his 266 innings included five centuries and 43 half-centuries, with a top score of 145 not out. He was the Club’s nominated professional in 2016.
Just below them in the list are two more Heywood stalwarts in the shape of Mark Wright and Alan Starmer.
Mark, another one-club man and like Bobby a product of the Club’s junior system, totalled 7,477 runs. Alan – who joined Heywood from Woodhouses – had an aggregate of 6,201 runs.
Fifth place goes to a player of a bygone era. Fred Duffy played from 1925 to 1949 and made 6,030 runs.
But not far behind him come some of Heywood’s most admired post-war performers.
Jack Wilson is just three runs behind Duffy in a first-team career lasting from 1954-175; Ralph Farmer is on the 5,727 mark compiled from 1961-1983; Ray Purser, a former first team skipper, made 5,046 from 1941-1969 ; Tom McConnell posted 5,016 from 1964-1982; Colin Wroe 4,663 from 1980-1995; and Jimmy Porter 4,462 from 1959-183.
Two more Heywood stalwarts still playing on also figure high up in the all-time batting records, despite the main strings to their bows being with the ball.
Chris Kaye and David Fare are well clear as the leading wicket-takers in the Club’s history, but the records underline that they have not too shabby with the bat, too!
Kaye, also a one-club man throughout his career, has aggregated 4,232 runs since making his debut in 1986, and still makes senior appearances when required.
Fare, who joined the Club from Worsley in 1976, made his last senior appearance in 2002 but not before reaching the landmark of 4,095 runs for Heywood.
Other players on the list who some members will recall include: Jack Davenport, 3,409 runs from 1942-1962; Trevor Brown, 3,314 from 1957-1973; Jason Hurst, a remarkable 3,097 from 1989-1992; and Royce Blight, the Australian who was the Club’s popular overseas amateur from 2005-2009 (excluding 2007) and aggregated 3,003 runs at an impressive average of 35.98.
And no Heywood batting records would be complete with a mention of Dr Henry Hardacre Irvine Hitchon, who was a former captain, Chairman and President of the club as well as being a President of Lancashire County Cricket Club from 1933-1935.
He played for Heywood from being one of the founder members of the Central Lancashire League in 1892 until 1921, and fell just short of the 4,000 run mark with a career total of 3,898.