Jordyn Ballard smashes this ‘cut’ shot for four runs against Harden on Saturday.

The Cootamundra Bulls have commenced their South West Slopes Cricket League (SWSCL) premiership defence with a comfortable six-wicket win over the Harden Hornets at Albert Park on Saturday. Harden won the toss and elected to bat, reaching 9/80 after 40 overs. Angus Campbell top-scored with an unbeaten 44 from 107 balls, but apart from Tim McFarlane and his 13 runs from 34, no other Hornet could reach double digits on a tough day’s batting against an excellent Cootamundra attack. Youngster Koby Godbier was sharp with the new ball, taking 3/21 from eight overs, while Joel Pearson took 3/11 from seven overs. In reply, Jordy Ballard and his 47 runs from 31 balls helped the Bulls get off to a good start, while skipper Josh Purtell, with an unbeaten 13 from 16, and Darren Connell, with an unbeaten 9 from 20, guided Cootamundra to a good win.

“It was our first game, and we had a lot of new guys playing, and we were very rusty, to be honest,” Purtell said. “Young Koby Godbier bowled well; it will be his first year opening the bowling a lot more, and I thought he did well to take three wickets. “Plus, we had the usuals, and Joel Pearson and Dean Bradley got eight overs in and bowled really good line and length.” Purtell said he was going into the contest with a ‘bowl-first’ mindset, so losing the toss and bowling the full complement of overs against Harden suited him and his team down to the ground. “I was going to bowl first no matter what, so it was good to get 40 overs in the field,” Purtell said. “That will be the way we start the year; we’ll try and get those early overs in, spend 40 overs in the field if we need to, and on the weekend, I tried to throw the ball around a bit and gave everyone a bowl.”

Harden, who will likely compete for a B-Grade position this season, did enter the game a little underdone, and Purtell said it was a challenging result to get a feel on.

 

“It can be hard to get up for some games, and you can lack a bit of motivation and no disrespect to Harden, but we were eager to see how our bowling went, and it didn’t take long to see that there was a fair difference between both sides,” Purtell said. “There will be those games, but we must show up and play our best.” Still, Cootamundra was left to celebrate a good win, with a strong start vital for sides looking to qualify for A-Grade when the competition is split from Pool A and Pool B into A-Grade and B-Grade after seven rounds. “We’ve always dropped a few games at the start of the season and don’t usually hit our straps until Christmas, and we never have big expectations to start the year,” Purtell said. “So, it was good to start with a win and just get 40 overs in with the ball.”

On Saturday, Cootamundra faces a much more challenging task in Round Two when taking on the Boorowa Big Bottles at Albert Park. After the Big Bottles belted the Young Gunners in Round One, Purtell expects both Boorowa teams to figure in 2023/24. “I was very impressed with Boorowa last year, and I thought they were better than where they finished on the ladder,” Purtell said. “We had some challenging games against them, and I was impressed with how they go about their cricket. “For a small town, they get the numbers, and I think both teams can be surprise-packets in this competition.”

In other SWSCL Pool A matches, the Temora derby saw the Bowling Club Tigers land a comfortable five-wicket win over the Shamrock Leprechauns. Playing on the Nixon Park turf, the Leprechauns won the toss and elected to bat but could only score 91 before they were bowled out in 32 overs. Daniel Flack top-scored with 26 from 42 balls, while Harminder Singh with 3/16 from eight overs and Josh Breust, with 3/8 from five overs, did most of the damage with the ball in hand. In reply, the Tigers reached their target, five down from 92 after only 19 overs. Struggling at 4/21, the Temora side went on with the job, with Matthew Gillard scoring an unbeaten 35 while Josh Breust chimed in with 32. Ryan Kemp and his 2/23 from seven overs were the best figures for the Leprechauns. Boorowa Big Bottles also scored a four-wicket win over Young Gunners. Young was sent into bat and scored 8/178 in 40 overs. Boorowa chased down the total, reaching 6/179 in 31 overs. Readers can read that full match report in today’s Twin Town Times. In Round Two, Murringo Mavericks host Harden Hornets at Gus Smith Oval, Temora Tigers (1) take on Young Gunners at Nixon Park 2, and the Cootamundra Bulls (1) face a more challenging test against the in-form Boorowa Big Bottles at Albert Park.