HEYWOOD’S batting frailties came back to haunt them as they were condemned to the third tier of the Greater Manchester Cricket League for the 2020 season.
The visitors were toppled for 74 chasing a victory target of just 113 at Glodwick in their bid to secure a place in the newly-created Premier Division 2 next season.
If the visitors were crestfallen then the home side were clearly euphoric as they clinched the Division 1A title and a place in the elite Premier League itself for the next campaign.
Heywood, meanwhile, are left to contemplate life in the Championship, which will consist of those teams which finished in the bottom half of Division 1A and Division 1B.
So where have Heywood gone so badly wrong after starting the second half of the season topping the table?
It’s hard to point the finger at the bowlers, even though Heywood were rarely able to field their first choice attack.
But the batting unit has clearly operated well below par on several occasions, none more so than in the final two games.
The penultimate match at home to Flowery Field saw Heywood routed for just 34, and Saturday’s final effort at Glodwick resulted in the collapse to 74 all out. That’s 108 for 20 wickets in two games.
There have, of course, been extenuating circumstances. The tracks in both fixtures were clearly difficult for batting, perhaps not surprising as the season rolled along into September.
The Glodwick encounter encapsulated the problems as the side fell only 39 runs short of their target with virtually half of the 50 overs left unused.
The Heywood bowlers, led by accomplished deputy professional Rumesh Buddika and fellow spinner Jack Morley, certainly did their stuff.
After Sohail Asildada and skipper Sean Burrill – the latter opening the bowling for the first time – had reduced Glodwick to 14-2 with a wicket apiece in worthy spells, the spin duo took over.
Buddika’s off-spin, bowled with nice flight and at a teasing pace, tied the home batting line-up in knots, and the 18-year-old Morley again underlined what an asset he has been to the club with his quality left-armers from the opposite end.
The Sri Lankan came on for the 16th over and bowled unchanged in a 15-over spell of 4-36, while Morley was his usual threatening self with 4-31 from 14 overs and one ball.
Only four Glodwick batsmen scraped double figures, with a top score of 21 from Zain Tahir, to underline the testing nature of the wicket
Yet if Heywood had known beforehand that they would be set a victory target of 113, and 50 overs in which to graft their way to victory, they would surely have taken it.
What was to follow was all too familiar.
Highly impressive seamer Imran Asghar and deputy professional Dieter Klein, a former paid man at Rochdale, never let the visiting batting line-up get a foothold in the match.
Buddika threatened briefly to turn the tide with 16 from 11 balls including one legside six, and looked encouragingly composed. So it was a surprise when he was adjudged to have got a thin edge through to the wicketkeeper.
The only other batsmen to reach double figures were Burrill (13) and Andy Dawson (11), and the inexperienced tail was blown away by Asghar in particular with a 7-31 return from 12 overs and one ball. Klein gave him invaluable support with figures of 3-29 in a nine-over stint.
So Heywood find themselves slipping down the Greater Manchester League pecking order, after originally being voted into the top flight for the inaugural season.
D Stock b Asildada 6
F Shagir b Burrill 2
F Lenhardt b Buddika 20
Z Tahir lbw b Buddika 21
D Klein b Buddika 16
A Zeer c Burrill b Morley 4
G Prinsloo lbw b Morley 2
B Heap b Buddika 0
M Whitehead not out 12
I Asghar c Booth b Morley 0
J Symonds b Morley 3
Total (46.1 overs) 112
Fall of wickets: 8-1, 14-2, 60-3, 61-4, 71-5, 93-6, 93-7, 100-8, 102-9, 112-10
Bowling: S Asildada 10-2-19-1, S Burrill 7-2-21-1, R Buddika 15-1-36-4, J Morley 14.1-2-31-4
J Kettleborough c and b Asghar 6
R Cross c Symonds b Klein 2
J Morley b Klein 1
R Buddika c Symonds b Asghar 16
A Dawson c Tahir b Asghar 11
S Burrill b Asghar 13
W Hunt c Symonds b Asghar 3
M Witts b Klein 0
C Booth b Asghar 0
S Asildada not out 0
S Evans b Asghar 1
Total (25.1 overs) 74
Fall of wickets: 12-1, 14-2, 33-3, 33-4, 53-5, 62-6, 63-7, 63-8, 63-9, 74-10
Bowling: D Klein 9-2-29-3, I Asghar 12.1-4-31-7, A Zeer 4-3-2-0
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