Albion completed season 2023/24 Gunnedah district cricket undefeated, claiming their fourth premiership in five seasons, accounting for Mornington in the First Grade grand final at the weekend.

Set into bat by Mornington, Albion controlled the match from start to finish, dominating the grand final to ensure an emphatic victory by 152 runs in the 40 over match at Wolseley Oval.

Albion’s opening batsmen Cam Waugh and Damien Baldwin set the tone for their side, as Mornington failed to make early inroads into the Albion batting.

Waugh and Baldwin were aggressive from the outset, punishing anything loose from the Mornington attack. Their partnership asserted Albion’s early dominance in the match, racing to 61 without loss after the first 10 overs.

From there, they continued forging the platform for Albion’s middle order to hit out through the middle and closing overs, as both Baldwin and Waugh notched half centuries during their 126-run opening stand.

However, on the stroke of the 20-over drinks interval, Mornington seamer Tim McDermott struck.

Firstly he removed Baldwin, caught on the boundary for a brisk 57, and immediately in his next over picked up the wicket of Waugh LBW for 52.

Albion were still in control though at 2/126 by the halfway 20-over drinks interval.

Albion came out after the break, continuing to attack on the back of the century-opening stand from Baldwin and Waugh, as number four bat Ryan Cooper maintained Albion’s rollicking momentum.

He blasted a brisk 37 in seven overs, that included three sixes, to keep the scoreboard racing along for Albion.

That was until Mornington resorted to spin and with immediate effect, off-spinner Josh Langdon had Cooper caught at backward point to bring an end to his cameo.

Langdon wheeled away, picking up another his second wicket in his fifth and 30th over of the innings, but Albion at 4/189 had a significant launching pad for the last 10 overs of the innings.

Captain Ash White set out to anchor the remainder of the innings, as the batsmen at the other end hit out in search of quick runs.

Upon racing their total past the 200-run mark in the 33rd over, White was joined firstly by Jakob Vearing, who hit a quick-fire 12 and upon his dismissal, dangerous all-rounder Andrew Osmond entered the fray at 6/204.

While White remained patient, Osmond attacked at the other end and in the last seven overs of the innings, he and White put together a 46-run partnership.

Both remained not out to see out the Albion innings, White remaining 29 not out and Osmond a rapid 16 not out to see Albion reach a mammoth 6/250 on the last ball of the innings.

At a required run rate of a tick over six runs an over, Mornington’s chase of 251 for victory was always going to be a mountainous challenge.

Early on in the Mornington innings, it seemed it could well be a bridge too far as opening bowler Osmond dismissed Mornington batting opener Andrew Johns with the fourth ball of the innings. Osmond’s opening partner Mark Ewington also struck, removing Richard Avendano LBW in his second over, the fourth of the Mornington innings, leaving them in dire trouble at 2/8.

Opener Justin Carter remained solid at one end and when joined by Josh Langdon together they set about consolidating the Mornington innings.

Albion were stringent in their lines and lengths, suffocating the Mornington batsmen in the process which inevitably forced the fall of wickets.

Carter was dismissed in the 18th over, caught off Matt Lindsay who was to have a significant influence on the Mornington innings – and it was quickly four wickets down when Langdon was also dismissed caught on the stroke of the 20-over drinks break, also off the bowling of Lindsay.

At 4/76, Albion had the game securely in their grasp despite the valiant fighting of Mornington’s batsmen. However, Mornington couldn’t resurrect or gain any form of ascendency throughout their innings and chase, as Lindsay bowled an eight-over unchanged spell that reaped him impressive figures of 5/28.

Best of the Mornington batsmen was Ben Hennessy, who tried adding impetus to the innings and top scored for his side with 20, but the target of 251 was too far in arrears for the Mornington batsmen.

Combined with Lindsay, Albion were well served by their pace quartet of Nayte Vernon collecting two wickets, while Ash White, Osmond and Ewington all claimed a wicket each, combining to bowl Mornington out in the 28th over for 98.

Following the 152-run grand final victory for Albion, the competition presentation was held afterwards and due to their dominant undefeated season, Albion players featured heavily in the awards.

Meanwhile, for his knock of 57 that set up the game and victory for Albion, opening batsmen Damien Baldwin was named player of the grand final by umpires Beryl McCormack and Graham Keeler.

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