SOME defeats hurt more than others but Heywood may reflect on Saturday’s 22-run setback at Uppermill with particular regret.
A weakened side looked to have a mountain to climb at the halfway stage of a rain-affected game after the home team had blitzed their way to 193-7 from just 27 overs.
The victory target was adjusted to 197 on the Duckworth-Lewis method, and when Heywood lost key opener James Kettleborough for a duck at the start of the fourth over the sparse gathering of visiting fans feared the worst.
Yet Bobby Cross – backed up by significant contributions from Jack Morley, professional Faisal Iqbal and Andy Dawson – led a dynamic Heywood run chase to such effect that when he fell for a blistering 75 made from just 53 balls, and containing six sixes, the score showed 141-4 and 56 runs needed from eight overs.
Then the wheels fell off in an all too familiar lower order collapse.
The next six wickets capitulated for just 34 runs from 39 balls and Heywood ended up 22 runs short as Uppermill snaffled the vital five points up for grabs.
From a neutral’s point of view it was an exciting 30-overs-per-side game despite being truncated by rain, not starting until 3pm and then soon being reduced to 27 overs by a 25-minute interruption owing to a further dampening.
That the scoring rate was so ferocious was due in no small part to a short boundary around 30 yards from the wicket meaning that the bowlers faced a stiff examination of line and length.
And Uppermill took full advantage based on an opening stand of 73 in 10 overs between Dave Roberts and Mark Lees.
Roberts cashed in with a hard-hitting half-century until he was first out, bowled for 52 by Cav Hilton, who was the clear pick of the Heywood attack with a fine spell in the conditions of 1-31 from his seven overs.
Lees soon followed for 21 to a smart caught-and-bowled chance by Iqbal, and when former Lancashire batsman Darren Shadford did not last long it was 89-3 halfway through the 15th over – and Heywood smelled a chance of restricting the run gallop.
But home professional Ayaz Tasawar picked up the baton in impressive style to become the only other home batsman to reach double figures, smashing an 82 containing seven sixes and six boundaries to help set a formidable target.
When Kettleborough fell at the start of Heywood’s reply the target looked even more remote only for Cross to lead the charge in exhilarating style.
Cross took heavy toll of the Uppermill attack with a series of straight sixes only for wickets to fall at key intervals at the other end.
Morley (17) and Iqbal (19) were bowled by Lees when looking well set, although they could never settle back and allow the scoring rate to get out of control despite the efforts of Cross.
Dawson, however, helped to maintain the momentum in a fourth-wicket stand of 34 before what were to become the crucial moments of the game.
Cross, who needed to maintain his tempo, was caught off a skyer trying another big hit to the longest boundary and a jubilant Uppermill team sensed their chance.
Then 16 runs later Dawson himself perished for 26 from 22 balls to make it 157-5. And that proved to be that, despite a gettable 40 runs needed from 28 balls – very achievable on such a quick-scoring ground.
The last five wickets realised just 18 runs as Roberts (5-49) and Tasawar (2-45) polished off the back end of the Heywood innings.
Now, with just two matches of the season left, Heywood’s chances of securing promotion back to the Premier League are all but gone and they probably need to win one of their last two games to secure a place in the new Premier 2 set up for the 2020 campaign.
They will certainly have to up their game at home to Flowery Field this coming Saturday and a final day trip to Glodwick the following week, with those two teams five points ahead of Heywood in the Division 1A table.
D Roberts b Hilton 52
M Lees c and b Iqbal 21
A Tasawar c Morley b A Dawson 82
D Shadford c Burrill b Iqbal 5
P Roberts c Morley b Kettleborough 3
D Gartside b Morley 1
C Mills c Witts b Morley 0
M Salmon not out 2
J Hill not out 2
Total (for 7 wkts, 27 overs) 193
Fall of wickets: 73-1, 79-2, 89-3, 112-4, 115-5, 152-6, 181-7
Bowling: J Mills 3-0-45-0, C Hilton 7-0-31-1, J Morley 8-1-40-2, F Iqbal 4-0-20-2, J Kettleborough 4-0-36-1, A Dawson 1-0-9-1
J Kettleborough b Roberts 0
R Cross c Hill b Lees 75
J Morley b Lees 17
F Iqbal b Lees 19
A Dawson b D Roberts 26
S Burrill lbw b D Roberts 8
M Grogan lbw b Tasawar 8
W Hunt b D Roberts 2
M Witts b D Roberts 3
J Mills c Lees b Tasawar 1
C Hilton not out 0
Total (25.3 overs) 175
Fall of wickets: 7-1, 72-2, 107-3, 141-4, 157-5, 162-6, 166-7, 172-8, 174-9, 175-10
Bowling: A Jones 3-1-22-0, D Roberts 8.3-0-49-5, M Lees 8-0-51-3, A Tasawar 6-0-45-2
ADJUSTED TARGET 197 (Duckworth/Lewis)
- None Found