What a thoroughly dispiriting defeat it must have been for Chris Kaye and Joe Lovell at Walsden on Saturday.
Heywood crashed to their second successive league defeat, and their second successive loss to the villagers, by 44 runs. It was a match they could, and should, have won, thanks to the talents of Kaye, bowling as well as he has for two years, and the ever-improving Lovell.
The pair bowled 39 excellent overs between them on the small Scott Street ground, Kaye taking 7-79 with his slow left-armers and Lovell 3-77 off 21 equally good overs.
They came on with Walsden having got off to a great start thanks to some wayward opening bowling and slipshod fielding.
James Rawlinson looked set and Jake Hooson and Matthew Dawson made good runs, but the Heywood spinners were superb and reined Walsden in by taking wickets with variations in pace and length that were a pleasure to behold.
Walsden were restricted to 226 on a good pitch, a score which even local supporters believed was not enough against what was supposed to be one of the best top fives in the league.
What followed then undid all the good work done by Kaye and Lovell and left a decent visiting support wondering when Heywood are going to put it together against a spirited Walsden side.
Andy Dawson went quickly again, but Heywood cruised to 65-1 with Ross Zelem and Bobby Cross bounding along and the home side looking like they feared a hiding.
Then it fell apart in drastic style.
Cross inexplicably played all around a straight one from pro Richard Sladdin, Zelem was well caught behind off Jake Hooson, then pro Travis Townsend – on a wicket that should suit him – was out in exactly the same fashion for a duck.
It was left to Danny Pawson to lead Heywood back from 73-4, but he played another poor shot to Sladdin and his side were left with little way back from 96-5.
That they actually started to threaten Walsden’s target – there were 30 overs left at this stage! – was down to some excellent batting from Riley Paterson and Lovell, and at 150-6 with about 14 left, there was still a chance. They were proving there is nothing much to fear from the Walsden attack.
But the middle order and tail had been left with too much to do and Walsden eventually bowled Heywood out with six overs to spare for 182.
This was a poor performance from Heywood’s batsmen. So far this season, we have bemoaned the middle order’s inability to score runs when needed, but of late they have started to find some form.
But for some reason, no one in the top order seems to be able to bat through the innings in the big games against the biggest teams at the moment – including LCB KO matches against Ormskirk and Horwich – and help set or chase targets.
The one plus point, I suppose, is that we have twice performed terribly against Walsden, and twice have been in positions where we could have challenged them.
If everything comes together in the Wood Cup Final in two weeks time, then Walsden could feel a Heywood backlash.
But not if the batsmen let down their bowlers again.
J Hooson c Hunt b Kaye 28
J Rawlinson c Zelem b Lovell 90
M Dawson c Hunt b Kaye 20
N Barker st Pawson b Kaye 19
S Harkal b Kaye 4
Josh Gale c and b Kaye 9
Joe Gale c Cross b Lovell 3
S Barker not out 19
R Sladdin lbw b Lovell 2
J Shackleton c Pawson b Kaye 6
C Dewhirst c Lovell b Kaye 3
Total (50 overs) 226
Fall of wickets: 1-65, 2-103, 3-136, 4-140, 5-159, 6-162, 7-195, 8-206, 9-213, 10-226
Bowling: Paterson 4-0-25-0, Naeem 7-0-32-0, Lovell 21-4-77-3, Kaye 18-1-79-7
R Zelem c Dawson b Hooson 29
A Dawson lbw b S Barker 4
R Cross lbw b Sladdin 30
T Townsend c Dawson b Hooson 0
D Pawson c Shackleton b Sladdin 12
W Hunt b Sladdin 7
R Paterson b Joe Gale 29
J Lovell c Dewhirst b Sladdin 31
H Naeem not out 18
S Burrill b Joe Gale 0
C Kaye c Dawson b Sladdin 3
Total (44.3 overs) 182
Fall of wickets: 1-25, 2-65, 3-71, 4-73, 5-96, 6-98, 7-150, 8-176, 9-176, 10-182
Bowling: Shackleton 5-0-20-0, S Barker 2-0-24-1, Sladdin 17.3-2-62-5, Hooson 7-0-26-2, N Barker 9-1-30-0, Joe Gale 4-0-12-2
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