Round 10 of Gunnedah and District cricket was held last Thursday evening, with back-to-back Twenty20 matches at Kitchener Oval under lights for the Australia Day weekend.

Albion and Mornington were locked into an battle in the first fixture, where Albion prevailed by six wickets as the match lasted all but the entirety of the allotted overs.

Meanwhile, Court House strengthened their finals aspirations, triumphing by eight wickets against Kookaburras in the second match of the evening.

Mornington won the toss and elected to bat against Albion, but were soon in trouble at 2/5 after three overs.

In a surprise move, Albion off spinner James Mack opened the bowling in a tactic that came to fruition, as Mack removed opener Josh Langdon in his first over without scoring and number three Henry Johns in his second for three.

In oppressive heat, Mack bowled his four overs straight at one end while the quick bowlers rotated at the other, where pace on the ball was to the liking of Mornington’s other opening bat Justin Carter and number four Richard Avendano, as they attempted to resurrect the innings.

Avendano and Carter formed a steadying partnership, progressing the score to 2/54 by the midway 10 over drinks break, setting the platform for a surge towards the latter stages of their innings.

As Carter rotated the strike to his more aggressive partner, Avendano took a liking to the role of aggressor in their partnership, blasting his way to a half century with three lusty sixes and motoring the score to 2/84 after 13 overs.

Albion captain and opening bowler Ash White brought himself back into the attack with immediate effect, dismissing Carter for a patient 17 and breaking the 79 run partnership between he and Avendano, with the score delicately placed for either side at 3/84 after 14 overs.

Avendano continued in his attacking vain though and although losing two more partners – both off the bowling of Albion medium pacer Travis Oakley – took Mornington’s score to 5/99 with three overs remaining.

Crucially, Avendano remained unperturbed, farming the strike in those three overs and in the process landing some lusty blows, finishing with six boundaries and four sixes in a classy unbeaten 77.

Avendano’s superb innings dragged Mornington single handedly to a competitive 6/125 after their allotted 20 overs.

Set 126 for victory, Albion burst out of the blocks in the run chase, cruising to 22 without loss inside three overs, before Mornington opener Lachie Straney had Damien Baldwin caught behind for 13.

That became 2/39 after six overs when Albion’s other opener, Cam Waugh, was dismissed caught off the bowling of Jack Hayes for 18 – crucially Waugh and Baldwin had given Albion a bright start to their chase.

Mornington continued to fight back though and the introduction of Avendano’s off spin into the attack brought a halt to the brisk run rate of Albion.

In combination with Hayes, Avendano dismissed James Mack for zero, while Hayes took the wicket of Andrew Osmond for seven – both bowled – to reduce Albion to 4/67 after 10 overs.

Unfortunately for Mornington, that was the last of their inroads into the Albion batting line up, as a crucial innings from number six Bailey Lennox ensured Albion timed the last 10 overs of their run chase to perfection.

Lennox’s run-a-ball 30 not out guided his side to victory in the 19th over, as Albion remain undefeated thus far in season 2023/24.

In the other match of the evening, Kookaburras won the toss and elected to bat against Court House.

Court House opening bowler Peter McCormack, who firmed as the competition’s leading wicket taker, used the steamy conditions in making the ball move laterally under lights.

His opening three-over spell reaped 3/6, bending the back of the Kookaburras batting to reduce them to 3/18 after five overs.

Paddy Paul and Troy Sands tried to consolidate the Kookaburras innings, putting together a fourth wicket partnership of 22, before Sands was bowled by first change pacer Ben Irwin.

Sands’ dismissal triggered a mini collapse and from 4/40 after eight overs, Kookaburras were in dire trouble after collapsing to 7/41 at the halfway 10 over mark of the innings.

Kookaburras battled through to the 19th over, but a combination of a ruthless Court House attack and inability to keep wickets in hand to launch an attack in the closing overs, they were ultimately bundled out for 67.

Court House set about their modest target in positive fashion, exemplified by opening bat Jaycob Price smashing two sixes in the second over of the innings.

Although caught off the bowling of Troy Sands for 12 in the third over, the opening partnership of 22 between Price and Ken Walters put an early dent in the run chase.

From there, number three and in form batsman Sam Doubleday controlled the tempo of the chase, picking off the loose bowling with ease.

Kookaburras’ last laugh was the wicket of Walters for 14, caught behind off Alex Seach. But at 2/62, Walters and Doubleday’s partnership of 40 had all but secured victory.

Jonah Cameron joined Doubleday to guide Court House to victory, with Doubleday the chief scorer in a well compiled 23 not out, while Cameron was also not out four to secure the eight wicket victory for Court House at 2/69 in the 12th over.

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