SOME victories are more meritorious than others and Heywood’s successful outcome over an Austerlands side perched near the bottom of Division 1A of the Greater Manchester League may have been anticipated.
But the scorecard of a rain-affected match, which resulted in a four-wicket win for the visitors on the recalculated Duckworth/Lewis method, does not even begin to tell the story.
In a match played on an unpredictable wicket which was a nightmare for both wicketkeepers there was an amazing total of 94 extras, 64 in the Austerlands innings and 30 in that of Heywood, as deliveries continually flew off a length or kept alarmingly low.
Yet, incongruously, 334 runs were scored on the day, the home side making what seemed a formidable 173 in the eyes of the travelling supporters.
And when Heywood slumped to 7-2 in reply, losing skipper Bobby Cross and Mikey Witts by the end of the fifth over, the victory target of 174 looked a redoubtable one – particularly as the playing surface was showing no signs of easing up.
But professional Faisal Iqbal joined Jack Morley to lay the foundations of a revival. They played with skill and grit, Morley providing the anchor to the innings and Iqbal looking more fluent the longer he stayed at the wicket.
Yet it was obvious that a batsman was ‘never in’ on this track, and when Iqbal went for 24 off 38 balls and Morley fell for 29 off 74 it was 91-4 and all to play for.
However, Andy Dawson had marched to the middle at the fall of the professional’s wicket and he was to play a pivotal role in the eventual outcome.
A 10-minute rain break at 73-3 in the 24th over was followed on 101-4 by a 30-minute interruption, which resulted in eight overs being lost and the victory target being reduced by only 15 runs to 159.
Wes Hunt went first ball on the resumption to a catch in the slips and Dominik Fawcett contributed 13, including three classy boundaries, before Simon Dawson joined his younger brother in the middle. And they dovetailed perfectly.
From a precarious position of 115-6, the duo mixed sensible aggression with positive running between the wickets and quickly sent the score scurrying along.
So much so that they put together a match-winning stand of 45 in just 39 balls to get their side over the line with more than six overs to spare.
Simon finished the chase with a sumptuous straight six to end up on 17 from 21 balls, underlining that he has the batting talent to make up into a meaningful all-rounder.
Andy, meanwhile, was also unbeaten on 32 as he continued his excellent start to the season.
Earlier, Heywood looked set to be chasing a much more gettable target when they reduced Austerlands to 93-6, with Iqbal and Morley turning the screw in all an-spin attack.
Yet James Lord, coming in at No 6, proved that it was possible to bat on the testing surface, holding the second half of the home innings together in impressive style.
He shared a seventh-wicket stand of 37 with ex-Rochdale paceman Lee Milner, 21 with Tom Moule, 10 with skipper Neil Inkpen and 13 for the final wicket with Michael Lockett before being last man out for 31.
The wickets were shared around the Heywood attack, with four for Iqbal, three for Morley, two for lead paceman Simon Dawson and one for Sohail Asildada.
And that was a just reward for Asildada, who – coming on as the first change bowler – claimed the key wicket of overseas amateur Chris Williamson as his first senior wicket for Heywood on only his second outing in a 1-16 return from six overs.
P Higginbottom c Hunt b S Dawson 6
A S Sunderland c Morley b Iqbal 31
C Williamson b Asildada 11
M Amjad c Hunt b Morley 2
A Young lbw b Iqbal 0
J Holt b Iqbal 31
G Scholes lbw b Morley 1
L Milner c Hunt b S Dawson 13
T Moule b Iqbal 6
N Inkpen b Morley 4
M Lockett not out 5
Total (46.4 overs) 174
Fall of wickets: 16-1, 57-2, 64-3, 91-4, 92-5, 93-6, 130-7, 151-8, 161-9, 174-10
Bowling: S Dawson 10-3-32-2, C Hilton 5-1-10-0, S Asildada 6-1-16-1, J Morley 14-7-47-3, F Iqbal 11.4-1-35-4
R Cross c Holt b Milner 5
M Witts lbw b Amjad 0
J Morley c Amjad b Higginbottom 29
F Iqbal c Higginbottom b Inkpen 24
A Dawson not out 32
W Hunt c Amjad b Higginbottom 10
D Fawcett b Higginbottom 13
S Dawson not out 17
Total (for 6 wkts, 35.5 overs) 160
Fall of wickets: 5-1, 7-2, 72-3, 91-4, 101-5, 115-6
Bowling: M Amdjad 12-3-33-1, L Milner 10-3-45-1, P Higginbottom 10.5-1-38-3, N Inkpen 3-0-25-1
HEYWOOD WON BY FOUR WICKETS ON DUCKWORTH/LEWIS METHOD
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