If Sunday’s win over Royton does prove to be the final first-team game for Chris Kaye, it couldn’t be a more fitting way to bow out.
Kaye was treated to an impromptu and (for many of the members of the patio, at least) an emotional guard of honour when he exited the Crimble pitch after taking the final wicket to fall in Royton’s innings of 175. Although nothing official has been confirmed, everyone suspected this would be Kaye’s final first team match and it didn’t disappoint a home support who have enjoyed his commitment to his one and only club and his skills as a left-arm slow bowler.
He had been brought on to wrap up the stubborn visiting side’s innings, and did so in typical style when Smith chipped a ball to pro Tom Cullen at short cover, then he lured Denny Hulme into a wild swipe which was snaffled with ease at extra cover by long-time captain and friend Bobby Cross.
Cross’ delight at being in on Kaye’s final wicket was evident, and apt. Cross has been involved in many of Kaye’s wickets over the bowler’s 25-year plus career and, as captain during Heywood’s most successful ever spell, has stood side-by-side with Kaye against the best opposition in the CLL and Lancashire.
It meant Kaye finished with four wickets to his name, left him in pole position to end the season as the leading wicket-taker in the CLL in 2014, and moved him on to 883 first-team dismissals and clear at the top of the Crimble wicket-taking list. No one could begrudge Kaye a sense of immense satisfaction when walking off the pitch, and there were almost tears shed by some long-time supporters as he walked up the steps.
If this wasn’t special enough, the cake was iced by another superlative performance with the bat from Cross. While Kaye has been the top Heywood bowler in history, Cross is the club’s top amateur batsman and arguably the best amateur never to have played for Lancashire.
The pair are Heywood’s most decorated players, and Cross again showed he is peerless among English amateurs as he hit a faultless, calm and imperious century to chase down the target of 176 despite batsmen falling all around him and Heywood plunging to 40-5 – of which, at that stage, Cross had scored 31.
Like Kaye, Cross was treated to rapturous applause from his fans, and respectful applause from opposition players and fans, as he walked in to end an emotional game on a huge high for Heywood.
While it was understandable that these two players and their achievements should dominate proceedings, there were other notable performances on a lively Sunday at Crimble that saw former chairmen of Heywood CC wait on for Ladies Day.
Riley Paterson brought to an end his time as Heywood overseas with a superb spell of bowling. He took 3-36 off 12 overs, including the key wicket of visiting pro Pieter Malan, and his second spell brought Heywood back into the game with Royton set for a score of 200 plus with Malan and Durose going well at 147-4 after putting on 80 for the fifth wicket.
The target of 175 was always going to be a tough ask, and became seemingly impossible as Heywood’s top order were routed by Malan. They were reduced to 40-5, with Cross just needing someone to bat with him as he was majestic off his legs and straight down the ground.
He found the ally he needed in Wes Hunt, who finally showed the talent many know he has after a tough season with the bat.
Hunt played straight and with patience, and helped Cross put on 103 for the sixth wicket in hitting his highest first-team score of 41 before he was comically/tragically run out when he thought a ball had crossed for a boundary and ambled back to his crease. But his work had been done, he’d proved he had the guts for the fight and can now look forward to much more of the same next season.
It was left to Cross to take Heywood home and bring up another century for Heywood to move him past 1,100 runs for the campaign.
So the curtain was brought down on another season at Heywood, with the two top amateurs in Heywood’s history playing a key role.
It’s unlikely the club will see another one-club legend emerge like Kaye or Cross, players who have come through the youth ranks and stayed loyal while showing such talent.
There are few such players dotted around Lancashire now, and with the lure of money and the pressures of modern life, it’s doubtful many players will dedicate themselves to the cause like Kaye, and latterly Cross, have done.
Finally, huge well done to Chris from me, as a former team-mate and friend and someone who has proved to be a real class act over the years. As a performer, there is no doubt his skills are still razor sharp but nothing lasts forever and he bows out as a bowler who would still walk into every side in the CLL.
T Walsh c Cullen b S Dawson 0
L Mason c Thulborn b Kaye 25
K Hussain c Lovell b Paterson 5
A Durose c Cullen b Kaye 31
P Malan c Cullen b Paterson 49
L Brown b Paterson 4
C Joy b Lovell 4
D Hulme c Cross b Kaye 10
C Porteous c and b Lovell 0
M Smith c Cullen b Kaye 1
A Good not out 4
Total (48.5 overs) 175
Fall of wickets: 1-0, 2-6, 3-63, 4-67, 5-147, 6-154, 7-163, 8-163, 9-167, 10-175
S Dawson 9-1-39-1, Paterson 15-2-36-3, Kaye 11.5-3-50-4, Lovell 13-1-48-2
R Cross not out 106
B Thulborn b Malan 0
D Latham c Hussain b Malan 0
T Cullen c Hussain b Malan 0
D Pawson c Walsh b Malan 4
S Burrill lbw b Good 4
W Hunt run out 41
R Paterson c Good b Durose 5
J Lovell not out 4
Total (for 7 wkts, 48.5 overs) 177
Fall of wickets: 1-2, 2-9, 3-13, 4-31, 5-40, 6-143, 7-172
Bowling: Good 0-1-36-1 Malan 13-3-27-4, Smith 4-0-17-0, Porteous 6-0-31-0, Brown 5-0-15-0, Durose 6-2-14-1, Walsh 5-1-38-0
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