BY ROGER SMETHURST: After a Saturday that Heywood fans will quickly want to forget, the third team brought some much needed joy to the Crimble on Sunday with their first victory of the season against East Lancs Paper Mill.
Having struggled in recent weeks against teams with more experience, the 3rd X1 was bolstered by the return of veteran Rick Purser and the addition of Lee Clarkson to support the juniors within the team.
Having won the toss, Heywood elected to bat and soon found themselves in trouble at 18-4 with Matt Hood, Matt Dearden, Ethan Clarkson and Purser all falling quickly.
It was left to captain Roger Smethurst and Lee Clarkson to help rebuild the innings, and this they did in a stand of 55 before Smethurst was out for 25 with 14 overs remaining.
When Clarkson followed two overs later for a battling 24 there were concerns that Heywood would struggle to reach three figures.
However, a crucial seventh-wicket partnership of 28 between Tom Pagett and 13-year-old Aaron Russell helped Heywood get past the 100 mark.
And when Russell was dismissed for nine, new signing Zeeshan Baig then joined Pagett in adding another 23 before the innings closed, with Heywood making 127 and Pagett unbeaten with a crucial 26.
The East Lancs innings couldn’t have got off to a better start from a Heywood perspective, with Purser showing why he’s been so deadly in recent years.
Supported by Baig they quickly reduced the visitors to 6–4, a position they were always going to struggle to recover from.
After Baig had finished with figures of of 2-12 from 10 overs and Purser 4-22 from 12 overs it was left to Heywood’s younger bowlers to try and wrap up the innings.
Ethan Clarkson picked up a wicket in his five-over spell and Matt Dearden finished with 2 -14 from his five overs.
Then, despite a promising three-over spell from Callum Jackson, East Lancs held out to deny Heywood a bonus point.
With four players in the team aged under 14 this was a terrific performance from a Heywood side who can now hopefully move on with more confidence as the season progresses
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