Jun 042020

Despite not having played many games for the 1st XI there have not been many players who have put Heywood CC on the international map like Kate Cross has. Having started in the Under 11′s under the tutelage of her Uncle Bob, she would go on to become the first female to play in the Central Lancashire League in it’s 123 year history. Within weeks she had taken 8-47 against Unsworth, a performance that made cricketing news around the world.

The Ashes winner was also the founder of the Under 9′s section of the club and the first coach of that age group. She looks back on her career at the club so far:

Kate on debut at Clifton

Kate on debut at Clifton

Do you remember your Heywood 1st team debut?

Yes, it was the first game of the 2015 season. We played away at Clifton. I had actually played in a friendly the week before against Middleton and took a catch at mid off and somehow managed to break a finger on my left hand. In the incident the ball had also ripped my nail up and there was a fair bit of blood and I remember saying to the captain, Danny Pawson, that I couldn’t leave the field for a broken nail in my first outing for the club! So at Clifton I was having to run from fine leg to fine leg to stay out of the way. Something that would have been a bit more tiring had we played on Crimble.

A stand out moment for me in my debut match was when I came on to bowl and naturally was very nervous. I think Bobby, my brother, knew I would be anxious to prove myself and moved out of slip (a rarity for him) to field at mid off, which enabled him to talk to me and calm me down. Unfortunately for him, a dolly catch went up, it looped straight to him and the next moment the ball is on the floor in front of him whilst he was on the deck with his head in his hands. Thankfully, a photographer captured the magic moment.

Favourite game for the club?

My favourite game for the club was against Unsworth and was also my least favourite game purely for the fact I had to bowl a 16 over spell and could barely walk the next day. Having said that I did pick up 8 wickets which is the most I have ever had in any format at any level. It was a wicket which favoured my bowling; slightly slow which offered a bit of sideways movement off the pitch. Perfect for me to bowl my natural line and length with the keeper up and fielders in front of the bat to build some pressure. I was the lucky one that was kept on at one end and then had the opportunity to pick some wickets up and I had so much support from the lads in the field with them taking some really good catches for me.  Once I had got 4 wickets, captain Danny Pawson kept me on with the opportunity to get my first 5for and it carried on from there. It was also one of my favourite games because Bobby got some runs in the chase having not had the best start to the season and I joked with him that he didn’t let me have my day. Looking back, I definitely saw a trend of him finding ways to score runs when I had taken wickets; I guess sibling rivalry is always relevant regardless of age! It was also a special day for the family with it being the 35th anniversary of my dad being part of the West Ham winning side to lift the FA Cup on May 10th 1980.

Favourite away ground?

As a kid who would go to watch the first team because Bobby was playing I enjoyed different grounds for different reasons; Werneth because they sold Smarties behind the bar, Radcliffe because there was a park outside the gate which I could go and play on and Middleton because I could ride my bike all the way around the ground. As a player (in age group cricket as well as senior cricket) I always enjoyed playing at Middleton and Milnrow. Midd was a great playing surface and you had to bowl well on there to get rewards. I seriously disliked any ground which had an astro-turf wicket on the square as it made fielding in the ring that much more difficult.

Best Pro you played with and against?

Growing up at Heywood I have always been lucky that my teammates always saw me as another member of their team and never “a girl playing men’s cricket”.  This was also reflected in all the pros I got to play with too, as I can imagine joining a new team and finding out you will be sharing a dressing room with a girl could be a strange move. When I debuted, Stephen Parry was our sub-pro and having spent some time in and around the Academy with Lancashire he was brilliant with me and offered me advice on the pitch which I appreciated. However, Rob Nicol was probably the best pro I got to play with. His knowledge of the game and his calm nature was  inspirational on the pitch, as well  the fact that he was a world-class batsman.

The best pro I played against would have to be Clinton Perren. I played against him in a T20 fixture at Crimble against Littleborough and I don’t think I know who was more nervous about it. I have never seen a batter more determined not to get out to someone, so much so he was happy to just rotate the strike against me. However, I remember going into that game thinking that he could really tear my bowling apart, especially in the shortest format of the game and I wanted to make sure that I was particularly clinical when I bowled to him, I didn’t want to give him any width or length that he would easily punish.

Best amateur you played with and against?

Growing up the best amateur I got to play with was probably Tom Hardman. Through age group cricket he was always head and shoulders above a lot of players his age and stood out in senior cricket too. He was a great character to have in the dressing room as well and I’m sure he would have gone on to great things. I would be daft if I didn’t say Bobby was one of the best amateurs I played with too. Having been on the receiving end of many of his long innings in the back garden, it was always so nice to see him go out and play well for Heywood.  The club has always meant a great deal to him and it therefore doesn’t surprise me that his success was mostly down to him enjoying scoring runs for his team. I was disappointed I never had the opportunity to bat with him but I imagine there would have been a terrible run out which I would have got the blame for.

The best amateur I played against was probably Chris Schofield in the same T20 fixture against Littleborough. He had notoriously been an excellent player in CLL so he was another player I was nervous to bowl at. Thankfully, Andy Dawson had him out before I had a real opportunity to bowl at him but on his day he could win games from nowhere so I was, again, pretty pleased I didn’t have to have a go at him.

Best on field memory?

Its hard to pinpoint any specific memory because I have genuinely always really enjoyed being able to come back from my other cricket commitments to be part of a Heywood XI. Being able to return and play with the lads that I grew up with is always really refreshing. However, I did once get the opportunity to play third team cricket with my father when I was about 15 in an away fixture at Worsley. He had always wanted to wicket keep to me and this was our only opportunity of taking the field together. I was batting at 10 and dad was coming in after me at 11. He had passed on some advice on to me as I went out to bat, something along the lines of “watch the ball and play straight”. Another wicket fell and out strolled my dad looking confident. He was facing a young off-spinner who was bowling particularly slow and he must have fancied himself to score some easy runs. What followed was easily the best thing I have ever seen on a cricket pitch. The lad bowled and dad tried to whack him across the line into the pavilion and it caught his top edge and dollied up to the wicket keeper. It was the most wretched dismissal I have ever witnessed in league cricket and I couldn’t see what was probably a very embarrassed look on dad’s face for the tears in my eyes. I had collapsed in laughter at the non-strikers end. Ironically, he hasn’t given me batting advice since and his cricket kit is still in the loft.

Best off field memory.

My best off field memory comes as a scorer for the club. It was the 2005 ashes and Heywood were playing against Monton in the Wood Cup Final at Ashton. I remember travelling to the game on the bus with the team and the final day of the Edgbaston test was on the radio and everyone was getting stuck into our overseas Aussie, Royce, who had been growing more confident throughout most of the morning. This was my first real taste of a big occasion in sport, and being part of it as the scorer was really special for me because I felt like part of the team. The nerves I had in the box were horrendous even though it was a relatively easy win for us having bowled Monton out cheaply and knocked them off none down. It was Bobby’s first win as Heywood captain and extra special that he had scored runs. I also remember the party afterwards being a great night, even though I was too young to enjoy it properly!

I think it would be remiss of me to talk here about the opportunities I have been given as a Heywood player. Through the years I have heard many stories about young girls who are passionate about cricket but have not been allowed to play at their men’s clubs. I can hand on heart say that from a 9 year old playing U11s cricket all the way through to making my first team debut, I have only ever been treated as a cricketer. This makes me extremely proud to be a product of Heywood CC and I don’t think I would have had the County or International career that I have had if things had been different whilst I was growing up. I think sometimes the lads underestimated how something as little as making me feel comfortable on or off the pitch had so much importance. And the friendships I have made will last for years to come.

Making my first team debut was more nerve-wracking for me than making my test debut and a lot of people find that difficult to believe. But, for me I have grown up playing a sport and standing out. You can’t hide a pony-tail sticking out of a cap and people have always made comment to the fact that Heywood have had a girl playing for them which means that often, as soon as I turned up to fixtures, I felt pressure. Whether that was external or internal, I don’t know. But it gave me a drive that I was there to prove people wrong and to show young girls that females could play cricket in any environment. Heywood allowed me to do that and in the last ten years or so I have been so proud to see more girls down at junior training nights and turning out for various teams.

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 June 4, 2020  Add comments

  3 Responses to “Crimble Memories – Kate Cross”

  1. This is what you get just when you think things have been forgotten. Anyway he was a very good bowler for a 6 year old !!

  2. I’m afraid such things are never forgotten!

    It took me years to live down being given out LBW after completely missing a full toss in a junior game, I was renamed Clarence after a cross-eyed lion in an old TV series.

    And one of the biggest culprits was the umpire who gave me out, a certain Mr V. Kay!

  3. Excellent Kate.

    Favourite ground explanation top marks! Smarties behind the bar and you could ride your bike all the way around the ground made me smile.

    A wonderful player and a lovely girl as well. Would expect nothing less from a Cross!

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