Joel Pearson.

The Cootamundra Bulls (1) have prevailed by five wickets in their top of the table match with the Temora Tigers to take the outright top spot in Pool A of the 2023/24 South West Slopes Cricket League (SWSCL) competition. Playing at Albert Park, the Tigers won the toss and elected to bat, but the visitors failed to fire against a red-hot bowling attack when skittled for 92 in 36.5 overs. Tom Winkley scored 31 (from 82) at the top of the order, and Harminder Singh added 28 (from 43) further down the list, but the rest of the order struggled. Leading the way for Cootamundra was Joel Pearson, who bowled 7.5 overs for four maidens and the figures of 4/11.
Pearson, who’s now the SWSCL leading wicket taker with eight wickets at an average of 3.25, was on a hat trick when he removed Nate Breust.



Adam Ward before either batsman could trouble the scorers and later in his spell, he rattled through Thomas New (5) and Charlie Bent (1). Pearson also ran out the ever dangerous Harrison Starr (11). Pearson spearheaded a good attack, with Koby Godbier taking 2/22 from his six-over spell with the new ball, and Tony Reece, while wicketless, was virtually unplayable, finishing with 0/7 and two maidens in a good five over spell with the new ball.



Darren Connell took 1/12 from six overs, Josh Purtell chimed in with 1/16 from five, and Ryan Connell finished with 1/15 from three as Temora struggled in the challenging conditions. The Tigers’ bowling attack made the Bulls work for the win. Joseph Pall, fresh off his stunning century in Round Two, was out on a four ball duck when caught and bowled by Harrison Starr.



Jordyn Ballard kept up his consistent run of starts this season, scoring 32 runs from 31, and he teamed up with Darren Connell, with the pair putting in 49 runs for the second wicket before the latter of the two was out on 17 (from 25) when caught by Starr off Cody lynch’s bowling.



Ryan Connell came to the crease, but Ballard was quick to depart when caught by Josh Gillard off Harminder Singh’s bowling. When skipper Josh Purtell was out for a five ball duck off the bowling of Lynch, the Bulls were precariously placed at 4/53. Oscar Roberts 2 (from 22) hung around as Ryan Connell edged Cootamundra closer before Roberts was out off the bowling of Adam Ward. Pearson came to the crease, scoring 8 (from 10), and he was able to find the winning runs with Cornell, who scored a match winning 29 (from 32).


On paper, it appeared to be a comfortable victory, but Bulls skipper Josh Purtell was just happy to get the result against one of the competition contenders. “I think it was a lot closer than the scoreboard actually indicated, and at one point, it could have gone either way, so we were happy to win,” Purtell said. “Temora is a team that can take the game away pretty quickly with bat and ball, and if they can get a good couple of overs with the ball, it’s hard to stop that onslaught, but I thought we did really well to just play our game and back ourselves against them.” Pearson was the difference maker for Cootamundra, with the quick bowling in fine fettle.



“He was on a hat trick at one stage, and he got some good wickets and is getting into a good rhythm,” Purtell said. “He always comes on in that first change role after the openers take the sting out of it, generally bowling a couple of overs before drinks, and he is really deceiving; he bowls a heavy ball that is hard to get away, and he is always on the spot.”



With three rounds in the books, the unbeaten Bulls look well on their way to a top three finish and a position in the SWSCL A-Grade competition. The Bulls have won three from three, and they have seen contributions from players all over the paddock.
“It’s a bit different this year,” Purtell said “We usually start pretty slow and take a while to find our feet, but this year, we trained a bit earlier and were in the nets for about four weeks before the season started. “Plus, we’ve had better weather, and everyone is a bit more excited, and it’s just good to see the boys playing well.”

Cootamundra plays Temora Shamrock Leprechauns at Nixon Park on Friday night. For a full SWSCL wrap, check out today’s Twin Town Times inside today’s paper.