Albion has demolished Court House for 37 runs in this year’s Gunnedah District Cricket Association grand final at Kitchener Oval, handing the side a 10-wicket victory.

It was the lowest first innings total in a grand final match in recent memory and was headlined by reigning cricketer of the year, James Mack, who collected his third five-wicket haul of the season with 6-7 in 5.3 overs bowled.

Court House’s epic collapse started with Jay Urquhart dismissed by Mark Ewington for a golden duck. Fellow opening batsman Grant McIlveen looked to steady the ship, scoring the side’s next 10 runs before Oscar King was sent packing for a nine-ball duck.

Blake Small was next to go for a golden duck as Ash White narrowly missed out on a hat-trick with Sam Doubleday escaping. He could only manage six runs before being run out.

McIlveen was the team’s top-scorer with 15 runs, but Mack picked up his wicket with an LBW.

Keaton Walters was the next casualty, picking up Court House’s third of four golden ducks for the innings. Ken Walters scored six, Braithen Winsor added four with Peter McCormack out for a five-ball duck.

Vinnie Winsor was the final wicket to fall and the last golden duck with Court House all out for 37 runs in 21.3 overs. Mack’s six wickets headlined Albion’s bowling attack with Ash White the next best with 2-6 in six overs.

Albion captain Brady Cady spoke to the Gunnedah Times about Mack’s influence and experience.

“He gets wickets week in week out, so he’s a major part of the side,” Cady said.

“What people probably don’t realise is how much he works on his game, especially for an older guy. He trains every week and gets better and better every year.”

With an easy target of 38 runs needed for victory, Cady was hesistant for the side to get ahead of themselves, with a history of batting collapses earlier in the season.

“I was hoping we didn’t have a collapse, we’ve had a few this year but as a group we’ve started to dig in the last few weeks and we made sure we were ready,” Cady said.

In just six overs, Cady was joined by Damien Baldwin as the pair reached the target without giving up any wickets. Baldwin added five runs along with 25 for Cady.

“It’s a pretty special feeling, being the captain and hitting the winning runs, it’s unreal,” Cady said.

“It’s been a great season and to win three in a row just shows the strength and depth of the club.

“Cricket’s a funny game and today was just our day, I’m just really happy that the club could get the premiership again.”

The way in which Albion was able to wrap up the title in disastrous fashion, shows the necessity for cricket in Gunnedah to snap the current trend of declining numbers.

So much so, the association was without a second grade competition for the 2021-22 season.

In spite of Cady’s excitement for winning the premiership, he is hoping for a change as the new season comes around at the end of the year.

“I think every club has lost a lot of players over the years,” he said.

“If we can’t get a second grade, it’d be nice to get an extra two teams, so there is six clubs and we all just play in the one grade and there’s no bye rounds.

“It’d be nice to see people come back to the game for sure.”

An alternative route for cricket in Gunnedah is the possibility for teams to come together to join the Tamworth competition. While there aren’t any plans on what happens next season, changes need to be made to continue growing the game for the betterment of the community.

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