CHRIS Schofield answered a late deputy call by Heywood when regular professional Travis Townsend had to cry off from the home clash with Woodhouses owing to a back injury.
And the 39-year-old former England and Lancashire star responded with a thoroughly professional performance as Heywood raced to their first Greater Manchester Premier League victory of the season.
Schofield, well known to Crimble followers by coming through the ranks with Littleborough in the Central Lancashire League, bowled 15 overs of impressive leg-spin off the reel to finish with 3-30 and help restrict Woodhouses to 176-9 – which threatened to be much more after an opening stand of 86.
Then the lithe left-hander went to the wicket at 7-1 to share a second-wicket stand of 133 with Andy Kerr, who made a polished 72, and saw it through to the end with an unbeaten 63 out of 178-2 – Bobby Cross helping to deliver the coup-de-grace with a cameo contribution of 23.
So Heywood got off the mark on their return to the top flight at the third time of asking. And Schofield was undoubtedly a key component of the victory.
But things did not look quite so rosy when Woodhouses openers Matt Taylor and Lewis Johnston put together a stand of 86, former Werneth all-rounder Taylor leading the way in belligerent fashion.
All the while, however, Schofield was helping Heywood making sure that the run rate did not go out of control. And when he had Johnston smartly caught by Cross at extra cover for 30 with 25.5 overs gone the tide started to turn.
Ryan Sloan soon followed, bamboozled by a Schofield delivery that pitched outside leg stump and crashed into his wickets.
And when left-armer Jack Morley, who had formed a quality spin partnership with Schofield, chipped in by having Nick Hardman superbly caught by Andy Dawson from a hard-hit reverse sweep to backward point it was 115-3.
Schofield then delivered the telling blow four runs later by having Taylor well caught by Tom McQuinn running in from long-off after a fine 73 from 119 balls just before his maximum allotted spell of 15 overs was completed.
And that paved the way for the 16-year-old Morley to take centre stage.
He weaved a spell to virtually run through the rest of the line-up to finish with a deserved 5-61 from his 15 overs. And with Tom McQuinn returning to the attack to claim the ninth wicket the only downside was that Woodhouses were not bowled out, ending on 176-9.
It looked an eminently gettable target on a decent track, although there was an early setback when Riley Paterson – promoted to opening the innings by stand-in skipper Danny Pawson – fell for a duck, chipping a catch to square leg.
That brought in Schofield for phase two of his professional stint and he did not disappoint in what proved to a match-winning partnership with Kerr.
Both were understandably watchful at first, particularly to Woodhouses’ own impressive left-arm spinner in Josh Butler, but their patience paid off.
Kerr got back to his best form with six fours in his 72 and the only surprise was when he tamely drove a catch to short extra cover with the total 140.
But Cross joined Schofield to make sure there were no further alarms with a fluent 23 from 22 balls, and Schofield carried out his duties diligently to be there at the end with 63.
His enthusiastic reception from the Heywood faithful was well merited.
M Taylor c McQuinn b Schofield 73
L Johnston c Cross b Schofield 30
R Sloan b Schofield 1
N Hardman c A Dawson b Morley 19
A Spender c and b Morley 19
A Hayes c Schofield b Morley 12
J T Taylor b McQuinn 10
J C Coote c A Dawson b Morley 10
J Butler c Schofield b Morley 1
B Leeson not out 0
S Sivasubramanian not out 6
Total (for 9 wkts, 50 overs) 176
Fall of wickets: 1-86, 2-98, 3-115, 4-119, 5-138, 6-158, 7-168, 8-170, 9-170
Bowling: S Dawson 6-2-32-0, T McQuinn 10-1-35-1, C Schofield 15-7-30-3, J Morley 15-1-61-5, D Pawson 3-0-16-0
R Paterson c Hayes b Spender 0
A Kerr c Taylor b Butler 72
C Schofield not out 63
R Cross not out 23
Total (for 2 wkts, 44.4 overs) 178
Fall of wickets: 1-7, 2-140
Bowling: A Spender 6-2-23-1, J Butler 15-5-32-1, N Hardman 7-1-33-0, M Taylor 6-0-28-0, J C Cooke 5-0-29-0, A Hayes 5.4-0-30-0
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