A NOTABLE performance by Bobby Cross could not stop Heywood from being comprehensively disposed of by Greater Manchester Premier League champions Flixton for a second time this season.
Cross carried his bat throughout the Heywood innings, an unusual feat in amateur or professional cricket, to make 85 out of 155-8 as Heywood batted first.
But Flixton, currently in pole position to retain their title, reached their target with relative ease to finish on 159-3 and secure the bonus point on top of the five for a victory.
That gives the Lawrence Road side a 10-point lead at the top of the table just past the halfway point of the season, while Heywood slip into the bottom two.
However, it completes a difficult spell of successive away games for Heywood against two of the League’s leading lights and they would probably have settled for a victory at Clifton the previous week.
The difference between Flixton and Heywood on the day was arguably the quality of spin bowling on a track which gave help to three quality operators.
Once seamers Kamran Basharat and Johan Wessels had quickly been whipped out of the home attack, off-spinner Usman Tariq, leg-spinner Alton Beckford and left-armer Mark Stamper took over to put a stranglehold on the visiting batting line-up – apart from Cross.
Flixton professional Tariq accounted for Riley Paterson for eight after an opening stand of 28 with Cross, Mikey Witts for two and Danny Pawson for a first ball duck.
And when overseas amateur Beckford got rid of Heywood professional Travis Townsend for eight, it was 63-4 and Heywood were staring down the barrel of being toppled for a meagre total.
Especially when Stamper claimed the wicket of Sean Burrill to leave the scoreboard showing 74-5.
Cross realised that he had to put a high price on his wicket and responded superbly, receiving good support from Wes Hunt and Simon Dawson.
Once Mikey Grogan had become Tariq’s fourth victim to make it 91-6, Hunt made 14 in a seventh-wicket stand of 29. Then Dawson, making a welcome return to Heywood colours after a brief spell at Middleton, weighed in with 12 in a ninth-wicket partnership of 31.
Through it all, Cross stood firm in his best contribution of the season and thoroughly deserved his warm reception from the meagre away support – affected by England in World Cup action – and the Flixton players for his 85 made from 131 balls and containing 11 boundaries.
Still, a target of 156 for the home side did not look insurmountable and so it proved.
Tom McQuinn, after being called for four wides from his four first balls, gave the visitors early hope by claiming the wicket of Tariq for a duck thanks to a brilliant, diving legside catch by Hunt.
But, from then on, opener Luke Perry took control with the help of a couple of reliable partners.
Alex Heaton made 20 in a second-wicket stand of 45 until he edged Dawson for a second successive catch by Hunt, then overseas amateur Johan Wessels contributed 45 in a third-wicket partnership of 84.
By the time Wessels became a victim of Cav Hilton, who for the second successive week bowled an impressive spell of 1-5 from four overs, the game was virtually up at 133-3.
So it proved, with Perry steering Flixton to a maximum point haul and full steam ahead for a possible second successive championship.
R Paterson b Tariq 8
R Cross not out 85
M Witts c Beckford b Tariq 2
D Pawson c Heaton b Tariq 0
T Townsend c Parkinson b Beckford 8
S Burrill c Beckford b Stamper 6
M Grogan c L Perry b Tariq 6
W Hunt b Kamran 14
S Dawson c Tariq b Stamper 12
T McQuinn not out 0
Total (for 8 wkts, 50 overs) 155
Fall of wickets: 1-28, 2-38, 3-38, 4-63, 5-74, 6-91, 7-120, 8-151
Bowling: Kamran Basharat 6-0-36-1, J Wessels 2-0-3-0, A Beckford 15-2-30-1, U Tariq 15-2-35-4, M Stamper 12-3-42-2
U Tariq c Hunt b McQuinn 0
L Perry not out 73
A Heaton c Hunt b Dawson 20
J Wessels c Witts b Hilton 45
A Beckford not out 10
Total (for 3 wkts, 37.5 overs) 159
Fall of wickets: 1-4, 2-49, 3-133
Bowling: T McQuinn 7-0-31-1, S Dawson 8-0-32-1, M Grogan 2-0-20-0, R Paterson 7-0-28-0, T Townsend 7.5-0-26-0, D Pawson 1-0-3-0, C Hilton 4-1-5-1, R Cross 1-0-13-0
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