BY STEVE McHUGH: HEYWOOD, the team that couldn’t lose a match not so long ago, are now struggling to win one!
They slumped to their third successive Central Lancashire Cricket League defeat, this time by four wickets at home to Rochdale, in another game that slipped through their fingers.
The past few weeks have, of course, been badly affected by the weather. But the fact is that their last victory was at home to Middleton on June 5 in a Twenty20 Group match.
Rochdale certainly deserve great credit for their victory, which puts them level with Heywood just behind the Central Lancashire League pacesetters. And both teams are still in with a significant shout of being in the title mix-up come the end of the season.
Yet this was another game which Heywood will look back on with regret.
After making 158-5 from 40 overs, following a delayed start by an hour to allow one side of the square to recover from the week’s torrential rains, Heywood had Rochdale on the ropes at 50-5 in the 16th over.
Still at the wicket, however, was impressive Sri Lankan professional Malinda Warnapura, and he found a staunch ally in young all-rounder Greg Butterworth.
The duo naturally had their moments of good fortune. And Heywood thought they had got rid of Warnapura run out by a terrific direct hit by Humza Naeem running in from the long-on boundary when on 48 out of 83-5.
But he got the benefit of the doubt, and, from then on, the result was rarely in question. Warnapura and Butterworth shared an exhilarating stand of 106, and it was unfortunate for Butterworth that he could not see it right to the end, falling for 39 with only three runs needed for victory.
Warnapura did go all the way, however, with a superb, unbeaten 91, and while he is in this sort of form Rochdale will give plenty of other sides something to think about.
He was helped, however, to some extent by a Heywood attack that generally looked out-of-sorts except for overseas amateur Hamish Paterson and professional Travis Townsend.
Paterson continued his excellent form with the first three wickets, and two for Townsend reduced Rochdale to the brink of defeat before the match-winning stand.
Earlier, Heywood had reason to be content with their total from reduced overs in difficult conditions after losing the toss again.
Openers Bobby Cross and Ross Zelem, who made 33 and 24 respectively, laid the foundations with an opening stand of 58.
And Townsend, who received good support from Dale Latham and Paterson, grafted his way to an unbeaten 35 to help set a target of 159 that looked like being plenty good enough for much of Rochdale’s reply.
Latham made 18 until being caught on the mid-wicket boundary trying to up the ante, and Paterson – promoted up the order – showed how useful he can be with the bat by smiting a quickfire 16, including a massive six in Warnapura’s last over.
There is no certainly no cause for Heywood to panic, but they do need to start getting back into the winning habit. And soon!
R Cross c Dawson b Cryer 33
R Zelem b Cryer 24
T Townsend not out 35
D Pawson b Butterworth 10
D Latham c Hague b Warnarpura 18
A Dawson b Butterworth 1
H Paterson not out 16
Total (for 5 wickets, 40 overs) 158
FOW: 1-58, 2-78, 3-94, 4-132, 5-134
Bowling: T Avery 6-1-23-0, Faulkner 5-0-24-0, Butterworth 15-1-45-2, Cryer 6-1-19-2, Warnapura 8-1-39-1
B Haycock c Pawson b Paterson 0
J Avery c Latham b Paterson 6
M Warnapura not out 91
A Dawson c Cross b Paterson 0
D Cryer c Naeem b Townsend 1
J Maurice-Scott lbw b Townsend 6
G Butterworth c Dawson b Kaye 39
I Hague not out 2
Total (for 6 wkts, 38.2 overs) 159
FOW: 1-0, 2-20, 3-20, 4-33, 5-50, 6-156
Bowling: Paterson 12.2-1-46-3, Naeem 5-0-19-0, Townsend 7-1-21-2, Kaye 6-0-28-1, Lovell 4-0-26-0, Slawson 4-1-14-0
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