Bittersweet weekend for ‘headers’

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Westgate (153 all out beat)

Shireshead (120 all out)

It is a credit to both teams that this game, with such a significant sub-plot potentially overshadowing events, showed the Westmoreland League in its best light – ultra competitive, some high quality performances and old fashioned grit and determination followed by friendly post battle reflection.

It was Westgate who won the day due largely to a significant innings from young all-rounder prodigy (Dylan Conroy) who entered at No.7 and stroked his way elegantly to 42 in only 29 balls. It is no shame on the youngster to be a victim to the ‘Dad’s Army’ duo of Park and Murphy, Park extracting lift and venom from an otherwise benign surface and Murphy showing the speed and dexterity that made him such a linchpin in Warton teams of yesteryear.

Gareth Jennings supressed his natural ebullience and maintained excellent discipline to return figures of 0-17 from eight overs whilst the dogged and highly charged Hill amassed an important 35 in 75 balls. Wilkinson, Atkinson, Pearce and Hannigan all threatened fleetingly but the innings whimpered to a below par 153. Tom Jacques hinted at a return to form and took 5-56 from 15 overs whilst the return of Mike Park to first team cricket saw him take 3 for 11 in 5 overs – perhaps there is life in the old dog yet ?

Losing Mark Sutcliffe in the first over was a blow for the home side but Jacques and Wilson began to stroke the bowling fluently and put on 50 before Wilson was pouched by Hannigan performing his usually rapacious pull shot.

Hill picked up Skipworth cheaply but David Jack and firstly Jacques then Phil Oliver took the score to 98 with a 36 run partnership Jack making 25 and Oliver 15. After Riley and Yates fell for six apiece the momentum was clearly with Westgate at 106 for seven.

Park was the last man out as a stifled appeal and long delayed decision by the umpire brought the innings to a close, some 30 runs short.

Shireshead (162 for 5) beat Heysham (156 for 7)

Shireshead booked their place in the Hackney and Leigh final with a close run victory over a fiercely competitive Heysham outfit. Electing to field first, Heysham bowled a woeful first over yet still succeeded in removing Park as he miscued yet another long hop from the excitable Toulmin.

This only served to bring Jacques and Wilson together, who soon set about the bowling before Wilson played on scoring 30 in a 73 run partnership.

Skipworth (31), Oliver and David Carter kept the momentum going as Shireshead reached 162 in their 25 overs.

The pick of the bowlers was Graham Cassidy with 4-28 and Foster 4-27 who picked up key wickets for Heysham.

A heavily partisan crowd enjoying the afternoon sunshine and fuelled by highly charged cricket saw their team reach 28 before Jennings, in an immaculate spell of 1-19 from his five eight bowl overs had Powers caught by Skipworth.

Plackett and Hill galvanised the innings for Heysham without the need for big shots and kept the home side within striking distance of victory. From out of the blue, stand in skipper Phi Oliver swooped on a drive at cover and threw down the stumps leaving Plackett sprawling to make his ground.

Umpire Tony Jones had no choice but to raise his finger and the momentum shifted firmly once again towards the visitors much to the chagrin of the home crowd.

The next crucial turning point was the remarkable catch from Tom Jacques off his own bowling to remove the increasingly threatening Hill who has previously deposited Dave Jack into the playing field for six.

As the batsmen took 12 from Wilson’s final over the home side required 16 to win from Park’s last over, his confidence rocked after spilling an extremely difficult chance in the deep the previous over.

Boundaries were needed and after a single and a two, McClements edged one fine to the boundary and an unlikely Heysham victory looked possible.

Four balls later it was all over for Heysham as Park bowled two dots balls and Heysham could pick up just two singles leaving them six runs short.