CRICKET: Court House continued its impressive start to season 2022/23 of Gunnedah District cricket with a comprehensive nine-wicket victory over Kookaburras at Kitchener Oval.

Meanwhile, Albion chalked up its first win of the season by toppling last round victors, Mornington, by 70 runs at Longmuir Playing Fields.

The Court House side put their nose in front for early season favouritism by backing up their win over reigning premiers Albion the week before to annihilate the Kookaburras.

Bowling first, the Court House bowling attack wove a stranglehold for the entirety of the Kookaburras innings, ultimately ending it on a dire final score of 58 to complete the rout prior to the 20-over drinks break.

Teenage opening bowler and Gunnedah junior representative, Peter McCormack, was the chief destroyer for Court House claiming three of the top four Kookaburras batsmen on his way to impressive figures of 3/8 from his opening four-over spell.

McCormack’s opening bowling partner Braithen Winsor chipped in with a wicket at the other end to reduce Kookaburras to 4/16 inside the first seven overs of their innings.

Bailey Keeler and Kookaburras captain Chris Holiday offered a brief resistance to resurrect the score, before Keeler was removed for five caught off the bowling of first change pacer, Ben Irwin.

Holiday attempted to counter-punch against the Court House bowling stranglehold, in registering four fours and a six in his brisk 23, but the introduction of spin into the bowling attack via off-spinner

Sam Doubleday saw Holiday’s demise to leave the Kookaburras innings reeling at six for 52.

Doubleday and leg spinner Luke Kelly both bowled with great control to quickly mop up the tail of Kookaburras for a meagre 59. 

Kelly bowled a solitary over to register a double-wicket maiden and Doubleday finished proceedings with figures of 3/6. 

Court House began the run chase in dismal fashion, losing their first wicket without a run on the board, but were steadied through number three bat and captain, Kyle Gallen, who  joined forces with Dom Barnes at the crease.

Barnes played the anchor role and rotated the strike to his aggressive compatriot Gallen in their second wicket partnership of 61. Gallen played a vast array of strokes during his brutal innings of 40 blasting five fours and two sixes – one of which finished the match – to complete the nine-wicket rout, with Barnes unperturbed on 16 by the conclusion of victory.

In the other contest of the round, Albion players were able to resurrect a shaky batting start and compile an impressive win against Mornington by 70 runs at Longmuir Fields.

Batting first, Albion was bowled out for 174 on the last ball of the innings, which was assumed unlikely when reduced to 3/28 after 12 overs.

Opening bowler Rhyce Kliendienst produced the early breakthrough for Mornington in his second over leaving Albion’s remaining opener Bailey Lennox and Alistair Hillard the task of consolidating the early set back.

Mornington kept the screws on the run-scoring as Albion crept to 1/17 inside 10 overs – but the introduction of  Ben Hennessy into the attack had an immediate impact with the change of bowling paying dividends. 

Hennessy trapped Lennox in front LBW for 10 and then shortly after had Hillard caught for five.

James Mack and Daniel Head joined forces at the crease and set about resurrecting the Albion innings, rotating the strike in the early stages of the partnership.

Head was the main aggressor – and the introduction of spin was to his delight – taking his chances against the slower bowling as Mack rotated the strike for his more aggressive partner.

It was, however, to be Head’s undoing after he made a game-high 44 runs before he was trapped in front by off-spinner, James Langdon.

In a stunning collapse, Albion lost 5/10 inside four overs when opening bowler Lachie Straney was reintroduced into the attack for his second spell. 

In the process of completing his allotted eight overs, Lachie took three quick wickets to instigate the collapse – his final figures 3/18.

After the collapse, Sam O’Gorman and Andrew Osmond joined for the 10th wicket for Albion and quickly asserted the momentum in a brisk stand of 53 until O’Gorman was bowled for 30 by Kliendienst.

Osmond continued to hit out and on the back of a six on the penultimate ball of the innings, finished 30 not out to ascend the score to 174.

Mornington players began their chase of the target convincingly as Matt Agostino hit out to take down Osmond for 17 off his first over, but chanced his arm once too often and was caught for the same score.

Off-spinner Mitch Herden was introduced into the attack with immediate success, removing Agostino’s opening partner Justin Carter and by match end proved the difference between the two sides.

Herden was hit for runs by the attacking nature of the Mornington batsmen but stuck to his guns and continued the flight and guile to bend the back of the Mornington batting line up with five crucial wickets.

Number three bat, Henry Johns, continued his early season form with a team high 24, but following his wicket the run chase petered out as Herden recorded 5/44 in his six-over spell, ably supported by Travis Oakley with two wickets to mop the tail, with Mornington bowled out in the 23rd over for 104 concluding the 70-run victory. 

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