BY ROGER SMETHURST: Heywood Seconds ended their losing run of eight games on Saturday with a fine performance at Clifton.
At a ground where the seconds have done badly since the Salford side joined the CLL, strong batting performances from Adam Fawcett & Mikey Grogan were then backed up by an incisive spell of bowling from Kate Cross.
Unsurprisingly, Heywood captain Roger Smethurst lost the toss again and in damp conditions, with rain forecast for later in the day, the Crimble side were asked to bat first.
Against the experienced Clifton attack of Rob Meredith and Danny Hill the run rate was far from fluent in an innings that had been reduced to 30 overs.
Having struggled to 57 – 4 at the half way stage with Matt Hood, Tom Blundell, Chris Booth & Ben Thulborn all back in the dressing room, few could have foreseen the change in fortunes for Heywood in the second half of their innings.
Adam Fawcett, in an unfamiliar opening role, was joined by Mikey Grogan & the pair of them played some aggressive shots & ran positively in helping build a defendable total.
Grogan hit a number of sixes to a short leg side boundary and it came as something of a surprise when Fawcett holed out for 43 when looking well set.
This loss, though, had little impact upon the scoring rate and Grogan continued to play shots all around the wicket. He was perhaps fortunate to survive a stumping appeal when on 49 but went on to make his maiden second team 50, eventually finishing unbeaten on 60 as the Heywood innings closed on 155 – 5.
With England International Kate Cross, making her first playing appearance of the season, spearheading the Heywood attack with veteran Rick Purser, the Crimble side took the field with confidence high.
Spirits were buoyed even further when in her first over, with the score on 3, Cross snared the dangerous Chris Lord with a ball that surprised the former 1st team captain with both pace and bounce.
With Purser settling into his usual misery spell Clifton were being put under considerable pressure, however Heywood’s shortcomings in the field were soon to be exposed when first opener Harling was dropped at gully off Cross & then worse was to follow when Clifton captain Morris was dropped off Purser by keeper Booth.
Heywoood were forced to race through their overs in an attempt to get 20 overs in that would have made a result possible but disaster appeared to strike when after 13 overs a heavy storm hit the Manchester Road ground.
To the credit of not only the officials but also the home team this only resulted in a 20 minute delay before play resumed with both sides still sensing they had a chance of victory.
Despite Harling benefitting from another dropped catch off Cross, the England international was not to be denied and added to her haul when she eventually dismissed the Clifton opener for 21 with the score on 68.
What then followed was a collapse of epic proportions in the face of accurate bowling from the Heywood pair. Cross struck on two more occasions in the same over to decimate the Clifton middle order and when Clifton captain Ian Morris dragged a ball onto his stumps after an attacking innings of 48, Heywood were in command.
Only a brief flurry from middle order batsmen Andy Tocher halted the Clifton collapse, however after being hit on the head by a Cross delivery this appeared to unsettle him and he was dismissed one ball later well caught by Thulborn at cover, again off the bowling of Cross.
Sensing the possibility of a five-point win Rick Purser picked up two quick wickets, both caught safely at long off by Blundell and it was left to Cross to finish the proceedings when she clean bowled Clifton number 11 Meredith, leaving the home side all out for 102.
The last 9 wickets fell for 34 runs with Cross finishing with the excellent figures of 7 – 52 from 13 overs with Purser playing an unusual supporting role of 2 – 45 from his 13 overs.
With Heywood second from bottom this was a much needed win as the side seek to put some distance between themselves and bottom club Littleborough.
With 10 games still to play the Crimble side will be hoping that this result helps kick start their season especially with a crucial home game this Saturday against Littleborough.
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