It took just five balls for Kate Cross to prove to any doubters that she belongs in the top ranks of Lancashire cricket.
She had already made history by being named in the Heywood side to face Clifton on Sunday in the opening fixture of the Central Lancashire League, the first female cricketer to appear in senior cricket in a top Lancashire league.
But to prove that she deserved to be in the side on merit, not on reputation as an England cricketer alone, she knew she would have to deliver the goods. And she did, in fine style.
She bowled a beauty up the hill at the neat Clifton ground, nipping the ball back to bowl Joe Brown neck and crop for a duck. It was a wicket to enjoy for Cross, her family and Heywood fans and, just as importantly, struck a little blow for the women’s game as there are still older supporters who, to paraphrase and to quote no-one in particular, “couldn’t get their heads” around a woman cricketer playing in the CLL.
It’s credit to the CLL – hardly a progressive league – that they allowed a professional cricketer to appear for Heywood, and credit to the women’s game and ECB administrators that they have raised the profile and quality of their sport through investment in talent and facilities. But mostly, it was credit to Cross herself, who has worked immensely hard from a young age, through the Heywood ranks to England level. She has always let her talent do the talking, and that talent shone through on Sunday.
She finished with two more wickets to end with figures of 3-19 off seven overs – as well as having a catch dropped by brother Bobby, one of the safer catchers in league cricket – and helped Heywood keep Clifton to 121-8 on a slow pitch.
This was never enough to defend, and with brother Bobby again showing the way with the bat with a superb 75 that put everyone else to shame, Heywood chased this target down for the loss of just two wickets for an excellent four points in a tough opening game.
Although Cross junior will take all the headlines from this game, others are equally deserving of praise in a fine all-round Heywood performance.
Andy Dawson again showed he will be a menace with the new ball, taking 1-17 off his eight overs that saw him remove the dangerous Ben Chapman and keep Clifton from getting a quick start. Brother Simon also bowled well, but looks like he will need a few more overs in his legs before he gets back to the form he was in at the end of last season.
The key man with the ball, however, was veteran Chris Kaye, who wiled away from the top end to his usual great effect. Parsimonious as always, he probed away with deliveries of varying length and flight to finish with 4-51 off 19 overs, including two in two balls. As usual, he was the ‘go-to’ man for his captain Danny Pawson, and, as usual, he did not disappoint. He was well aided in choking the Clifton run rate by stand-in pro, Stephen Parry.
Cross senior’s catch apart, Heywood were excellent in the field, Andy Dawson taking an solid catch on the boundary to give Cross junior her second wicket, brother Simon holding a good catch on the boundary to get rid of home pro Gareth Cross, and the ground fielding in general was first class.
In reply, Heywood were cautious as new boy Liam Mason found his feet alongside Cross senior. But with Bobby in control, Mason looked increasingly composed and promised much for the season to come – including a lovely straight six – before he was bowled by the impressive Chapman.
Bobby was the anchorman as always with the bat and was especially good at dropping the ball short of fielders for the single, before cutting, driving and glancing the bad balls for four.
There was time for Dale Latham to ease his way into the new season, and he will benefit from this. Cross fell with three needed for victory, top-edging a long-hop from the bafflingly under-used Greg Jennings, but skipper Pawson strode in, clipped his first ball off his legs for four, and strolled off.
This was an excellent performance for Heywood, with a host of benefits for the team. As usual, the travelling support was enthusiastic, and enjoyed Clifton’s neat ground.
B Chapman c Pawson b A Dawson 9
N Shrivastava b Kaye 14
W Davidson c A Dawson b K Cross 38
G Cross c S Dawson b Kaye 24
D Morris lbw b Kaye 0
J Brown b K Cross 0
S Dorsey c Latham b K Cross 6
J McCann c Parry b Kaye 10
S Cheetham not out 8
L Dorsey not out 6
Total (for 8 wkts, 50 overs) 121
Fall of wickets: 1-15, 2-29, 3-75, 4-75, 5-76, 6-92, 7-106, 8-106
Bowling: A Dawson 8-2-17-1, S Dawson 6-3-11-0, C Kaye 19-2-51-4, S Parry 10-3-21-0, K Cross 7-0-19-3
R Cross c S Dorsey b Jennings 75
L Mason b Chapman 20
D Latham not out 14
D Pawson not out 4
Total (for 2 wkts, 41.2 overs) 123
Fall of wickets: 1-56, 2-119
Bowling: S Cheetham 14-4-33-0, G Cross 11-2-26-0, B Chapman 11-2-37-1, J McCann 3-0-13-0, G Jennings 2.2-0-11-1
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