Heywood Seconds made it a four-win weekend for the club when they beat Radcliffe by four wickets on Sunday.
But it was a victory that was in doubt for a long part of the game as they endeavoured to chase down Radcliffe’s target of 111 off 27 rain-reduced overs.
Old head Lee Grogan and the seemingly nerveless Chris Booth were the Heywood heroes, as they put the foot on the gas at the right moment to see their side to a victory which sees them continue to set the pace at the top of the CLL Second Division.
That the match was on was down to the ceaseless efforts of the club’s groundstaff. When I arrived at 12.45pm, the square and outfield resembled a bog. By 3.45pm, when the match started, it was eminently playable. A great effort by everyone to get the ground fit, as well as umpire Richard Unwin and the Radcliffe players for wanting to get the game on.
However, some water had got on the pitch that was used on the previous day – a quirk in the square means water can seep on to that particular wicket – and this made life difficult for batsmen facing bowlers from the Pavilion End.
Radcliffe got off to a good start despite the hindrance, and it was with relief when Rick Purser grabbed yet another lbw.
Lee Grogan took over from Andy Dawson at the Pavilion End and his nagging line and length bowling gave keeper Scott Jones three stumpings as batsmen became frustrated.
Jones picked up another stumping off Purser, and was also involved in all four run-outs suffered by Radcliffe to complete an excellent day behind the stumps on a difficult wicket.
Knowing it would be difficult to chase down 111 in the face of league stalwart Eddie Shah, captain Roger Smethurst fiddled with the batting order, leaving himself until later in case he was needed, and also, as he admitted afterwards, because he feared he would be bogged down by long-time adversary Shah.
Simon Dawson went early, bringing in Jones, promoted from number 10 the previous day. He was clearly nervous and faced some character-building stick from the visiting side, but answered some of his critics with a superb pull for four and an extra-cover drive to the boundary.
But he went to Shah and Andy Dawson fell lbw after blazing the previous ball for six, bringing in Lee Grogan. One of Grogan’s first tasks was to run out Dom Fawcett for 11, the opener looking as though he had weathered the early storm and was settling in nicely.
At 59-4 things looked dicey but Grogan took on the responsibility for seeing his side home. He punished anything short and looked like he had an ally in Adam Fawcett for a while, especially after Fawcett’s stinging cover-drive for four off Shah.
But he was leg before for six with 40 still needed, to bring Booth to the crease.
Booth worked the ball into the gaps and he and Grogan ran extremely well. With eight needed off two overs, Grogan smashed spinner Farley over cow-corner for six but then danced down and was stumped next ball for 27.
However, Booth and Tom Blundell saw Heywood home to a deserved victory in front of another good crowd, Booth impressing all with his unbeaten 21.
M Farley st Jones b Grogan 23
B Wolstenholme lbw b Purser 17
G Wolstencroft st Jones b Grogan 17
L Franklin st Jones b Purser 25
G Nicholson run out 3
D Farley run out 3
S Shan run out 4
F Ali st Jones b Grogan 5
A Patel run out 0
A Robinson not out 0
P Fully not out 1
Total (for 9 wkts, 27 overs) 111
Fall of wickets: 1-39, 2-52, 3-73, 4-76, 5-83, 6-95, 7-103, 8-108, 9-110
Bowling: Purser 14-2-54-2, Dawson 4-0-16-0, Grogan 9-0-38-3
S Dawson b Ali 1
D Fawcett run out 11
S Jones c Robinson b Shah 18
A Dawson st Fully b D Farley 14
L Grogan st Fully b D Farley 27
A Fawcett lbw b D Farley 6
C Booth not out 21
T Blundell not out 1
Total (for 6 wkts, 26.2 overs) 112
Fall of wickets: 1-1, 2-35, 3-53, 4-59, 5-72, 6-110
Bowling: Shah 13.2-1-38-1, Ali 4-0-19-1, D Farley 9-0-52-3
HEYWOOD WIN BY FOUR WICKETS IN MATCH REDUCED TO 27-OVERS-PER-SIDE AFTER RAIN
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