Court House cricketers staked their claim as a premiership contender in Gunnedah District cricket competition, accounting for Albion by seven wickets at Wolseley Park.

Oscar King – for the second week in a row following a match-winning 66 the previous week – led the way in a blitzkrieg innings for Court House, bludgeoning 76 and continuing his stunning form with the bat at number three to take the game away from the opposition.

Court House successfully chased Albion’s competitive total of 136 with 10 overs to spare.

In the other fixture, Kookaburras claimed their second win of the season in a dominant performance over Mornington at Kitchener Oval.

Batting first, Kookaburras were serviced by multiple contributions throughout their innings to compile 7/177 off their 40 overs.

Significantly, it was Paddy Paul who top scored with 46 not out for Kookaburras, although he was the beneficiary of the platform laid by the top order batsmen.

Opener Bailey Keeler set the tone for the Kookaburras’ innings but lost his opening partner Tim Kelly in the first five overs of the match.

In an interesting move from Mornington, off-spinner Richard Avendano – who was coming off a seven-wicket haul in his previous match – opened the bowling to claim the wicket of Kelly, bringing Jayden Windsor to the crease.

Keeler and Windsor steadied the innings for Kookaburras after the early set back and progressed the score to 42 in a partnership of 24 until in the 12th over Keeler was knocked over by Avendano and fellow Mornington off-spinner Josh Langdon.

Langdon took his second wicket in the 18th over, and his third on the stroke of the 20-over drinks break to reel in the Kookaburras’ momentum.

Firstly, Langdon trapped Shayne Riordan LBW with the score at 73 and then had Windsor caught, but not before Windsor had done some damage in blasting a quick fire 37, the score reading 4/81 at the 20 over drinks break of the innings.

Steve Keeler was joined by Paddy Paul after the drinks interval, and Paul was to have a significant impact on the Kookaburras setting a defendable total.

Paul and Keeler put on 36 for the fifth wicket and both batsmen were happy to rotate strike and pick off the loose balls to the boundary when presented by the Mornington spin attack.

Mornington pacer Nick Herring put an end to the stand on 118 in the 32nd over, which triggered a mini Kookaburras collapse. 

Three wickets in two overs reduced Kookaburras to 7/122 thanks to Herring’s two wickets and Avendano claiming his second, but crucially for Kookaburras Paul remained unperturbed at the other end.

With wickets falling around him, Paul cleverly farmed the strike from the tail and in the later stages of the innings began to take risks in order for quick late innings runs.

It proved pivotal as he boosted the score from 7/124 to 7/175 by the innings end, remaining 46 not out during his innings that included three sixes in his last four scoring shots, leaving Mornington to chase 176 for victory.

Langdon was the pick of the Mornington bowlers with 3/17, while Herring took 3/28 and Avendano 2/23.

Mornington’s run chase started in dismal fashion with a wicket in the first over, that of Justin Carter caught behind off the bowling of Kookaburras’ opener Alex Seach.

Fellow opener Marcus Hayne was joined by Henry Johns in a brief partnership of 18 until Johns was crucially run out at 2/18 – a significant wicket to the cause of the Mornington run chase.

That soon became three, then four wickets down for 40 when Aaron Condrick and Avendano fell victim to Ateeq-Ur Rahman and evidently following the loss of early wickets, the Mornington innings failed to gain any traction during their run chase.

Hayne remained defiant and posted a team-high 44, almost carrying his bat for Mornington but his defiance ended when he was last man out for his side on 99.

Kookaburras completed the 75-run victory on the back of Riordan claiming 2/5 and Ur-Rahman 2/19.

In a top of the table clash, Albion was in trouble early as Court House opening bowler Peter McCormack claimed Cameron Waugh with his first ball for a disastrous start to the Albion innings.

Fellow opener Damien Baldwin was McCormack’s second victim with the score reading 2/30 after 10 overs.

By the 20-over drinks interval, Albion had steadied after the early inroads of McCormack, but lost the key wicket of Daniel Head for 15 on the stroke of the break to leave them 3/66.

Russell Baker became the linchpin for the remainder of Albion’s innings, and although wickets fell around him and the score at a teetering 6/102, Albion was in danger of being bundled out inside the 40 overs but Baker remained dogged in his innings.

The Albion tail wagged, but couldn’t get the score above the 150 mark and despite Baker’s best efforts the team was eventually bowled out in the final over of the innings for 136.

Court House was aggressive in the run chase and openers Dom Barnes and Jye Hicks put the pressure on the Albion bowlers from the outset.

Barnes was the main aggressor, but miscued a pull shot on 12 off the bowling of opening bowler Andrew Osmond that brought Court House’s dynamic number three Oscar King to the crease.

Hicks was a perfect alibi for King, rotating the strike to his more aggressive partner as King set about taking the game away from Albion, in conjunction they took the score to 1/40 at the 10 over mark.

King bludgeoned 19 off a single over as the partnership flowed, and by the 20-over drinks interval Court House was sailing away with victory at 1/89.

Although losing Hicks for a patient and crucial supporting act of 18 in their match-winning partnership of 78, King reached his half century shortly after the break.

Upon the personal milestone, King continued in his attacking vain, blasting another two sixes and making it three for his innings of 76 that also included seven boundaries.

When he was the third, and last man dismissed on 126, King’s innings had single handedly ripped the game away from Albion. Kyle Gallen and Keaton Walters knocked off the remaining 11 for victory for Court House which sees them close the gap on ladder leaders Albion in a fight for the minor premiership.

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