As victories rank, Heywood CC’s two-wicket defeat of Ormskirk yesterday must be up there with the greatest ever wins in the history of the famous club.
Heywood had no professional, had lost four games in a row and were facing one of the top young sides in the county, on their own ground, in the LCB Knock-Out.
What happened then, culminating in a scampered single by the evergreen Lee Grogan in the hastening gloom of West Lancashire to usher in victory, was a thrilling tale of self-belief and determination.
Heywood had bowled and fielded extremely well to keep Ormskirk to 214-9 off their 45 overs on what was a quick-scoring ground and a wicket that offered plenty of encouragement to both batsmen and bowlers.
But without the injured Travis Townsend and with the batsmen struggling for confidence and form, many of the big home following who had travelled by coach and car down the East Lancs Road knew heroes had to come all down the batting order for victory to be achieved.
That’s just what happened.
The tone for the successful chase was set by Andy Dawson, who showed again the sort of talent that thrills and frustrates in equal measure.
At his best – when mixing watchfulness with extreme aggression – Dawson is a destructive force. The opening and pacy Ormskirk attack of Liam Hurt and Gavin Griffiths were left stunned by some of Dawson’s shots as he smashed Hurt for a beautiful straight six and carved big drives and pulls off both quick men over the infield.
Where he frustrates is his impetuousness, but here he blocked the straight ball and looked in control of his game alongside Danny Pawson – Ross Zelem had fallen caught behind early on – as Heywood cruised to 74-1 in the 12th over before he was run out. The fact it was a tight run shouldn’t excuse what was a poor decision from the umpire.
But Dawson had set things in motion.
Pawson and Cross kept things ticking over and although the going was slow, they moved Heywood to 105 and well on track before Pawson went, caught behind by the impressive Gary Knight for 34.
Of late, this has led to a collective panic from the Heywood batsmen, but not today. Dale Latham dug in and even when Cross was undone by the pace of Hurt, unlucky to play on, there somehow seemed a sense that this could be done.
Simon Dawson smashed a six and scampered some vital runs before he was bowled, and then Latham went, another victim of the Knight/ Robinson partnership.
It was then time for Riley Paterson to show his skills with the bat. He rotated the strike with classy ease, allowing Joe Lovell to open his arms and play a wonderful innings that really sent things Heywood’s way. He smashed Nicky Caunce for a big six over his head, and then did the same to home captain Ian Robinson on his way to 30 that took Heywood to within sight of victory.
Griffiths returned to pepper Naeem with some short balls, but the youngster who, like Lovell, had bowled so well earlier, stood up to the challenge and he and Paterson picked up the runs that left Heywood needing seven to win off two overs with Grogan striding to the crease.
The veteran took his time, then edged Griffiths to third man for four and scampered the winning single that brought joy to the visiting to support and set Heywood up for the visit of Horwich in the next round. What a performance!
If the effort with the bat was magnificent, none of it would be possible without a determined effort with the ball.
Paterson and Naeem were excellent with the new ball, Paterson bowling a much straighter line and Naeem bowling with the pace and aggression that set him apart as the best new-ball bowler on show. No mean feat considering the company he kept on the day.
Extras were scarcer than in previous weeks and the catching was excellent, when the chances came.
Maybe the key spell, however, was from Lovell. Bowling with short, straight boundaries, the off-spinner varied his pace and trajectory and picked up two key wickets on his way to figures of 2-36 that earned a big round of applause on completion of his spell.
Ormskirk showed why they are one of the top teams in the Liverpool Competition – Lancashire’s ECB-backed Premier League – as they batted deep and in Matthew Morgan and Matthew Glayzer they had two batsmen who were never worried by a slow run rate and the occasional play and miss.
But although they played well, they didn’t get away as Naeem returned to do them with pace and hostility, and it was left to Lancashire second team regular Griffiths to biff a late 40 and add the impetus that took the home side to 214.
As was proved, this wasn’t enough, and credit has to go to the bowling as much as the batting for the win. It really was a superb all-round performance, and was fully appreciated by the 100 or so supporters from Heywood who had backed their team to the hilt.
A big thanks go out to Ormskirk CC. From the announcer to the ladies in the tea-room, the experience of the day was wholly positive and the immaculate ground and club is a credit to everyone concerned.
And thanks to the players for making this passionate supporter/ critic/ writer eat any negative words he’d written and making it a day to remember for a long time.
I Robinson c Cross b Naeem 2
A Baybutt c A Dawson b Paterson 17
M Morgan c Lovell b Naeem 62
G Knight c S Dawson b Lovell 5
J Glayzer c S Dawson b Lovell 6
M Glayzer c Paterson b Naeem 57
L Hurt c A Dawson b Grogan 1
G Griffiths not out 40
N Caunce run out 3
M Farrell c Pawson b A Dawson 2
J Barnes not out 0
Total (for 9 wkts, 45 overs) 214
Fall of wickets: 1-15, 2-31, 3-42, 4-73, 5-138, 6-149, 7-174, 8-183, 9-211
Bowling: Paterson 9-1-34-1, Naeem 9-1-38-3, Lovell 9-0-36-2, Kaye 9-0-50-0, Grogan 8-0-46-1, A Dawson 1-0-3-1
R Zelem c Knight b Griffiths 1
A Dawson run out 45
D Pawson c Knight b Robinson 34
R Cross b Hurt 26
D Latham c Knight b Robinson 19
S Dawson b Barnes 16
R Paterson not out 19
J Lovell c Knight b Robinson 30
H Naeem b Griffiths 6
L Grogan not out 7
Total (for 8 wkts, 44 overs) 215
Fall of wickets: 1-5, 2-74, 3-105, 4-121, 5-151, 6-153, 7-195, 8-208
Bowling: Hurt 7-0-39-1, Griffiths 7-1-41-2, Farrell 8-1-41-0, Caunce 7-0-35-0, Robinson 9-0-37-3, Barnes 5-0-19-1
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