JAMES Kettleborough delivered one of the best innings ever seen in a 20-overs-per-side match at Crimble to inspire Heywood to a tense victory.
The 26-year-old went within a whisker of the rare feat of a century in the shortest form of the game, and shared a second wicket stand of 132 with professional Faisal Iqbal, as the home side rattled up 165-4 against Greenfield in their third match of the Marston’s T20 group.
But his classy contribution of 98 looked in vain when the visitors galloped to 121-1 in reply halfway through the 13th over until the match was turned on its head.
Chris Gill had led the chase in stands of 74 with Harrison Woolley, before Kettleborough had the latter well caught by Simon Dawson, and 47 alongside professional Yohan de Silva.
And with little more than 40 runs required and still 39 balls left it looked a formality. But a spirited Heywood side fought back tenaciously.
Dawson started the turnaround by trapping the aggressive Gill lbw for 70 off 45 balls, the impressive Cav Hilton had de Silva caught at deep gulley by 16-year-old Will Taylor for 27 – and the team and home supporters sensed a chance.
Brad Woolley was run out by a Mikey Witts throw from mid-wicket with only a run added to the score, and the Heywood attack responded by tightening their lines and lengths to squeeze the life out of the Greenfield middle and lower batting order.
Mikey Grogan, skippering the senior side for the first time, proved a thorn in the visitors’ side with his left-arm spin and quickly accounted for Michael Bird and Andrew Cadd.
And that really was that. The visitors had collapsed from 121-1 to 136-6 in the space of 27 balls and, with the run rate spiralling, the odds had switched dramatically in Heywood’s favour.
Witts engineered another run-out to account for Matt Barlow, Joe Aston became Kettleborough’s second victim and the visitors fell 15 runs short on 151-8.
It was certainly a night to remember for Kettleborough, and possibly his only regret was being bowled two runs short of a deserved century at the end of the 19th over.
But his contribution of 98 from just 65 balls, which deserves even more merit on the big Crimble playing area, was full of class and he fully earned the standing ovation from the patio and pavilion area.
The contribution of Iqbal should not be underestimated, either. He joined Kettleborough in the middle at 11-1 after Dawson went to a fine running catch by de Silva and played a full part in the big second-wicket stand.
His 46 came from 41 balls and he provided the security to allow Kettleborough to play expansively at the other end.
So Heywood have now won two matches out of three in their T20 group, and will be hoping to press on in their next assignment at Oldham area outfit Moorside next Friday evening.
J Kettleborough b B Woolley 98
S Dawson c de Silva b Bird 4
F Iqbal c H Woolley b Bird 46
W Hunt b Bird 0
M Grogan not out 7
M Witts not out 5
Total (for 4 wkts, 20 overs) 165
Fall of wickets: 1-11, 2-143, 3-150, 4-158
Bowling: Y de Silva 4-0-28-0, B Woolley 4-0-28-1, M Barlow 4-0-28-0, M Bird 4-0-37-3, A Cadd 3-0-29-0, D Fitzgerald 1-0-15-0
C Gill lbw b S Dawson 70
H Woolley c S Dawson b Kettleborough 21
Y de Silva c Taylor b Hilton 27
B Woolley run out 4
J Hepworth not out 11
M Bird st Hunt b Grogan 6
A Cadd c Kettleborough b Grogan 0
M Barlow run out 3
J Aston b Kettleborough 1
C Sturge not out 14
Total (for 8 wkts, 20 overs) 151
Fall of wickets: 1-74, 2-121, 3-125, 4-126, 5-136, 6-136, 7-143, 8-150
Bowling: F Iqbal 4-0-29-0, S Dawson 4-0-36-1, C Hilton 4-0-24-1, J Kettleborough 4-0-34-2, M Grogan 4-0-28-2
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