Joseph Pall shines with near run-a-ball century The Cootamundra Bulls have made a statement in the opening two rounds of the 2023/24 South West Slopes Cricket League (SWSCL) competition. Following on from their six-wicket win over Harden in Round One, the Bulls came out and trounced the Boorowa Big Bottles by 142 runs in their Round Two fixture at Albert Park on Saturday.

The Bulls won the toss and batted first, and Jordyn Ballard and Joseph Pall opened the ball, scoring 37 runs for the first wicket. Ballard, who scored 18 runs from 15 deliveries, was an early casualty when caught by Michael Canellis off Tom Gregory’s bowling, but Pall went on with the job. Pall teamed up with Oscar Roberts for 29 runs for the second wicket before Roberts (7) was caught by Wil Stanley off Hamish Scott’s bowling. In came Ryan Connell and he teamed up with Pall for a 110-run third-wicket partnership, and the latter of the two rose his bat to score Cootamundra’s first century of the new season.

Pall, who was dropped on 94, was eventually dismissed, scoring 107 runs off 112 balls, but Bulls’ skipper Josh Purtell came in and scored a quick-fire 21 runs from 11 balls. Connell, who played a patient 37 from 61, was a steady hand, but he was out when caught behind by Brendon Shean off Justin Corkery’s bowling, and Gus Smart (3) went cheaply when stumped by Shean off Corkery’s bowling. Cootamundra batted out the 40 overs and scored 5/216, with Purtell (21) and Joel Pearson (8) not out. Hamish Scott was arguably the best of Boorowa’s bowlers, taking 1/19 from five overs, while Corkery finished with 2/32 from seven. In reply, Cootamundra steamrolled through Boorowa, bowling them out for 74 in 25 overs.

Despite the absence of regular speedsters Dean Bradley and Koby Godbier, Tony Reece was superb with the new ball, with the quick taking 4/10 and bowling two maidens in a clever six-over spell. Ben Randall (2/16 from 4) was good in his top-grade debut, and Joel Pearson (1/4 from 4), Aaron Lewis (1/5 from 2), and Ryan Connell (2/5 from 3) all bowled effectively, keeping the runs to a minimum while taking wickets.

For Boorowa, Tom Carnell was their best, scoring 26, Justin Corkery added 11, and Jacob Kennedy scored 10, but the Big Bottles were no match for the high-flying Bulls. On Saturday, Cootamundra will prepare for their strongest test to date when taking on the second-placed Temora Tigers in a Pool A top-of-the-table match at Albert Park. In other SWSCL Pool A matches to be played on Saturday, the Young Gunners take on the Shamrock Leprechauns, and the Boorowa Big Bottles will look to bounce back against the visiting Murringo Mavericks. Harden is on the bye. In SWSCL Pool B action, the Cootamundra Bulls (2) outfit had a bye in round two, and they will return to the paddock on Saturday when playing Temora Exies Renegades.