GUNNEDAH Second XI opened its account in the MA Connolly Cup cricket season with a nine-wicket trouncing of reigning titleholder Moree at Wolseley Park on Sunday.
With both sides losing in the first two rounds while Moree forfeited in round two due to a player shortage, the losing team on Sunday was almost certain to bow out of finals contention.
The visitors won the toss but were quickly on the back foot as a wicket fell in the first over, and Moree was unable to gain momentum as its innings lasted just 21.3 overs.
Moree captain Chris Holland considered his batsmen were a bit rusty as it was the first time all season that they played on a turf pitch, although he said there were “no excuses”.
Holland remarked that “despite the wicket doing a few things”, he thought Moree could have defended its total had a few early wickets fallen during the run chase.
“Their (Gunnedah’s) bowlers worked the pitch a lot better than ours did,” Holland said.
Holland deemed that it was “definitely a rebuilding year” for the Moree team as a number of new and young players were involved, with plenty of talent available.
Gunnedah captain Blake Small understood the adjustment from one type of pitch to another, as he recalled his team getting beaten by Gwydir at Bingara where Gunnedah played on synthetic for the first time in quite a while.
Small rated it “a pretty good deck” on Sunday.
“I would have batted first if I had the chance, but it turned out all right in the end,” Small said.
Small reckoned that the match could have panned out vastly differently had the first catch been dropped, but that “it was pretty easy in the end”.
“Everyone played well. We all played as a team, really,” Small said.
A late inclusion in the local line-up, Oscar King held a sharp catch at short mid wicket with the third ball of the game to account for Ben Day.
The next two victims were bowled, before an edged catch to the wicketkeeper was followed by a chipped catch to mid-off.
Another victim was bowled, and the next two were lbw before the final two were caught in the field.
Opening bowlers Farran Lamb and Troy Sands captured three wickets each, as did second change bowler Izaak Merlehan, before Vinnie Winsor captured the final wicket with his third delivery.
Tariq Habib was reprieved a couple of times as he scored 37 in the home side’s innings, before being caught at cover off Jason Trindall with victory just two runs away.
Michael Flannery (20) and Hayden Baker (2) were the not-out batsmen as Gunnedah achieved the target in only 13.1 overs.