REPORT BY STEVE McHUGH:
THEY may have lost their 100 per cent start to the Central Lancashire Cricket League season, but Heywood are still powering on at the top.
Unsworth became the first team this season to prevent being bowled out by the pacesetters, making 183-7 from their 50 overs in what became a rain-affected match which looked as though it may be abandoned at one stage.
But Heywood, led by run machine Bobby Cross’s second successive league century, eventually got back on to the field and easily chased down a revised target of 151 from a further 34 overs after resuming on 10-0.
A victory by the rare margin of 10 wickets earned a further four points, taking their tally to 34 out of a possible 35, and keeps them three points clear of second-placed Walsden.
The target looked a far from routine one when Cross and Ross Zelem went back on at 6.17pm, following a break of an hour and 20 minutes with 12 overs having been lost.
But the openers, and Cross in particular, made light of a rain-soaked outfield and long grass in places, which meant that many shots that would normally have been boundaries saw the ball stop dead and result in only a couple of runs.
Unsworth were probably more hindered by the conditions, however, with their attack led by South African fast bowler Jon Fowler having to continually try to dry a ball which became virtually like a bar of soap.
That did not bother Cross and the vigilant Zelem, and they easily kept up with and surpassed the required run rate.
They took just little more than a further 25 overs to fluently knock off the remaining 141 runs, with Cross showing the benefit of a man who has spent so much time at the crease recently.
He took toll of all the bowlers in arguably his best knock of the season, and it was fitting that he should complete his 15th century for the club with the last ball of the game.
Zelem played his part perfectly, too, providing a solid base at the other end for the skipper to show why he has been rated the top amateur batsman in the CLL for so long.
The skipper said: “Ross did really well. He ran well between the wickets, put the bad ball away, and, if he can continue like this, it could be the final piece in the jigsaw for us as a batting unit.”
Earlier, Unsworth had been indebted to overseas amateur Hussain Badat for posting what had looked like a challenging target.
The South African profited from a couple of difficult dropped chances to bat through and finish on 84, sharing an opening stand of 57 with Chris Long, 25, before wickets fell at regular intervals at the other end.
Chris Kaye claimed another three victims and professional Travis Towsend made the breakthrough with the first two.
The others were courtesy of run-outs, one an excellent piece of work by 18-year-old Andy Dawson, whose direct throw from backward point sent Jon Wiggans packing.
H Badat not out 84
C Long c Slawson b Townsend 25
R Navaratnam st Pawson b Townsend 6
J Wiggans run out 9
J Fowler st Pawson b Kaye 13
A Arora run out 10
A Clarkson c Cross b Kaye 0
M Haig b Kaye 1
Total (for 7 wkts, 50 Overs) 183
Fall of wickets: 1-57, 2-77, 3-124, 4-160, 5-178, 6-180, 7-183
Bowling: Paterson 11-1-28-0, Naeem 6-0-19-0, Townsend 9-1-28-2, Lovell 14-2-57-0, Kaye 10-0-37-3
R Cross not out 102
R Zelem not out 41
Total (for 0 wkts, 29.3 overs) 152
Bowling: Fowler 9-1-35-0, O’Brien 5-1-19-0, Badat 2-0-8-0, Richards 6-0-22-0, Hetherington 4-0-31-0, Clarkson 2-0-20-0, Wiggans 1.3-0-12-0
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