HEYWOOD’S second team produced an outstanding all-round performance to topple second-placed Walsden by five wickets at Crimble.
A delayed start, reduced overs and a further break for rain did not bode well for the longevity of the match – or for the exciting finale that eventually panned out.
Heywood, having lost the toss and play starting in a fine drizzle, could have been forgiven for thinking it was going to be one of those days.
However, the young side stuck manfully to their task and made an early inroad into the Walsden batting when James Mills struck in the second over, having Jack Hanson caught behind by Chris Booth.
Mills and John Keyworth then went on to frequently beat the bat with no luck, as the seasoned Stuart Hanson and Chris Dewhirst led Walsden’s recovery.
But, eventually, Hanson chanced his arm once too often and Tom Blundell took a stunning slip catch.
Thereafter, Walsden struggled to dominate the home attack. Dewhirst took 32 overs to compile his 50 before becoming 13-year-old Jack Morley’s first victim – being deceived in the flight to leave Booth with the easy task of whipping off the bails.
Morley proceeded to bowl the telling spell of the match, taking two further wickets and showing commendable maturity in bowling for the rest of the innings without seeming in any trouble to finish with final figures of 10-2-29-3.
He was well supported in a miserly spell by Dom Fawcett, whose 42 deliveries contained 32 dot balls, as Walsden closed on 173-7 from their 42 overs.
Heywood seemed content with that, but the start of their reply did not go exactly to plan as Blundell fell in the first over.
But Mikey Grogan, making a rare step-up to open, and Booth set out to build a foundation and frustrated the Walsden bowlers.
They did so in exemplary fashion, taking 21 overs to get to 57 before Booth started his walk back to the pavilion almost before the umpire’s finger went up for the lbw shout.
What followed justified the earlier approach with the incoming batsmen able to take toll of a tiring visiting attack.
Grogan completed an excellent 50, after mixing dogged defence with some clean hitting, then Steve Evans bludgeoned a rapid 31 which included two big sixes.
A flurry of wickets accounted for Grogan, Evans and Chris Kaye, bringing captain Adam Fawcett and younger brother Dom to the crease for the most dramatic period of the match.
With 54 runs needed from 10 overs, the brothers hit the bad balls to the boundary, ran the ones and twos quickly and even had time for three all-run fours.
The partnership thrilled a growing crowd and totally dispirited the away team, as Heywood clinched one of their most meritorious victories.
That such a young side could pull off a measured and mature run chase against a top-of-the-table team should give them self-belief for the remainder of the season that anything is possible.
And consider this … nine of the Heywood team came through the Crimble junior set-up; eight of the 11 are aged 23 or under; there were four teenagers in the team; and skipper Adam Fawcett has, at the age of 22, claims to be the youngest captain in the league.
S Hanson c Blundell b Keyworth 23
Jack Hanson c Booth b Mills 3
C Dewhirst st Booth b Morley 57
J Lord b Kaye 7
G Brandwood c Nugent b Kaye 20
D Bailey b Morley 23
P Marrow not out 17
D Brown b Morley 1
M Halstead not out 6
Total (for 7 wkts, 42 overs) 173
Bowling: J Keyworth 8-0-37-1, J Mills 7-0-33-1, C Kaye 4-0-21-2, D Fawcett 7-3-21-0, J Morley 10-2-29-3, A Fawcett 6-0-27-0
T Blundell b Brandwood 2
M Grogan st Brown b S Hanson 50
C Booth lbw b M Halstead 14
S Evans b Brandwood 31
C Kaye run out 3
A Fawcett not out 30
D Fawcett not out 26
Total (for 5 wkts, 40.4 overs) 175
Bowling: G Brandwood 13.4-2-63-2, C Dewhirst 9-3-14-0, M Halstead 7-1-38-1, S
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