How fitting it was that Heywood produced their best performance since they beat Ormskirk in 2013 to end the most special weekend in the club’s history.
Friday night’s 150th Anniversary Dinner at Crimble was a fantastic evening, a one-off, and the feelgood factor flowed through to Sunday as the first team moved into the last 16 of the LCB KO Cup with a tremendous seven-wicket defeat of the 2013 champions of Lancashire, Northern, in front of passionate home support.
There were performances of note all through the team – as there was at Ormskirk in the 2013 LCB KO quarter-finals – as Heywood chased down the 184 target set by the Crosby side, who had beaten Heywood in the semi-finals of the same competition following the Ormskirk victory. Former captain Bobby Cross was unbeaten on 78, current captain Danny Pawson hit a magnificent 64 and Ray Baker – proving to be a massive boost to the middle order – kept the momentum going with a fine, unbeaten 26 to see Heywood home.
But leading from the front with the ball was the ever-improving Simon Dawson. After Northern won the toss and batted, he, along with brother Andy, caused all sorts of problems for a powerful visiting batting line-up.
Simon underlined his progress as a new ball bowler, making great strides by accounting for the top three of an accomplished Northern batting order – former Thornham all-rounder Liam Grey, the highly-rated youngster, Davy Smith and the prized wicket of Stephen Lucas.
Lucas had pulled Simon for a couple of boundaries when he dropped short, but the bowler troubled the star opener when he pitched up and had his revenge when he was caught behind. Lucas has been in terrific form this season and scored an unbeaten 86 in the seven-wicket win over Heywood in the 2013 semi-final, so it was the prize scalp. Simon bowled his nine overs straight through and repaid the faith his captain had in him to finish with the superb figures of 3-22 off his nine overs.
Danny Pawson weighed in with the wickets of Ian Carroll with his first ball and then Justin Snow to leave the visitors of 60-5, before Jamie Cole and Ryan Maddock led the Northern recovery and underlined the visitors’ batting strength in depth.
The pair dug in and took whatever singles and twos they could to keep Heywood under pressure in the field, but Joe Lovell and pro Rob Nicol stuck at it and the fielders again showed they are amongst the best in Lancashire.
Lovell helped himself to a wicket, and Andy Dawson earned himself another victim late on, but more determined batting saw Northern bat out their overs and their total of 184-8 was always going to be challenging.
But this was a good pitch to play on, and if Heywood could keep their cool, they were always in with a chance.
Cross and Liam Mason took a rightfully cautious approach to the chase against the accurate opening attack of Grey and Maddock, Maddock eventually drawing Mason into a false shot to take a simple return catch.
Heywood looked to be in trouble when Nicol tried to break the shackles and hit Grey over the infield, only to be caught at extra cover.
However, Cross and Pawson, so often Heywood’s saviours, were in no mood to roll over and from 17-2 put together an ultimately match-winning partnership that was simply riveting viewing. The visiting side looked a bowler short, such was the intent of the pair, as they turned ones and twos into twos and threes and punished everything offline.
Pawson was, as usual, marvellous against the slow bowlers and he used all his crease to hit off the back foot before dancing down when he’d disrupted the bowler’s lengths to smash over long on. Cross, meanwhile, had decided to play the anchor role and looked as though he was ready to bat all the way through. This is not to say he did not bat with intent, but whereas Pawson was a little more of an aggressor, Cross was more watchful than his captain.
It was a shock when Pawson went for 64 after the pair had shared a 120-run partnership. He swept at spinner Sephton and got a big top edge which the bowler took comfortably. It was a fine innings and a magical partnership that illuminated a cold and grey Crimble
Northern may have felt like they’d got their foot in the door as Heywood still needed 48 with just over 10 overs to go, but this was snuffed out as Baker again showed why he is such a crucial cog in the Heywood machine.
Without doing anything risky, he cut and drove the ball into any gap, taking singles when he had to and hitting sublime shots off back and front foot for four when the bowler erred.
In the meantime, Cross could focus on his own game safe in the knowledge that the other end was ticking over nicely, and after Baker had clipped a four over mid-wicket in the 42nd over, Cross decided enough was enough the next over, danced down to Snow and smashed him back over his head for four to win the match.
Thrilling stuff. A happy Crimble crowd stood to cheer their players in, and Heywood had beaten one of the best side’s in Lancashire.
Now it’s a trip to Prestwich – one of the sides we expect to face in the GMCL next season – for a place in the quarter finals of the LCB KO Cup. With a trip to Radcliffe next week to look forward to in the Wood Cup as well, these are good times for the players and supporters.
S Lucas c Latham b S Dawson 28
L Grey c Lovell b S Dawson 8
D Smith c Baker b S Dawson 1
J Cole c Latham b Lovell 54
I Carroll b Pawson 1
J Snow c Burrill b Pawson 8
R Maddock c Cross b A Dawson 29
S Cole st Latham b Lovell 10
T Sephton not out 15
L Biddlestone not out 6
Total (for 8 wkts, 45 overs) 184
Fall of wickets: 1-22, 2-37, 3-40, 4-41, 5-60, 6-120, 7-154, 8-156
Bowling: S Dawson 9-3-22-3, A Dawson 9-1-41-1, D Pawson 9-0-35-2, J Lovell 9-0-36-2, R Nicol 9-1-33-0
R Cross not out 78
L Mason c and b Maddock 2
R Nicol c Snow b Grey 2
D Pawson c and b Sephton 64
R Baker not out 26
Total (for 3 wkts, 42.5 overs) 185
Fall of wickets: 1-11, 2-17, 3-137
Bowling: R Maddock 9-0-30-1, L Grey 9-3-15-1, S Lucas 7-0-37-0, T Sephton 9-0-38-1, J Snow 5.5-0-42-0, I Carroll 3-0-18-0
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