DEFENDING champions Coro Cougars are back in business after unseating GDCA ladder leaders Leagues Club with a commanding outright victory at Exies No.2 Oval on Saturday.
Inspired by teenage tyro Alex Flood – who claimed seven scalps on the day – the Cougars ran out 24-run winners, firing an ominous warning shot to the rest of the local competition on the eve of the finals.
Flood was irresistable in the Panthers’ first innings, snaring four wickets in a ferocious display of pace bowling as Leagues Club was dismissed for just 51 in pursuit of Coro’s total of 176, set on day one last week.
The wickets kept on coming for the representative star in the Panthers’ second dig as he clean bowled opener Ben Leach and then tormented captain and former teammate Paul Plummer for the second time that day, pulling the rug from under the once-mighty Leagues Club outfit.
Conditions might have suited Flood down to a tee but Coro captain Haydn Pascoe said the youngster got exactly what he deserved.
“Floody bowled quick, he bowled accurate – he ripped them apart,” he said.
“It was just great to watch.
“We thought (the pitch) would have definitely been doing a lot more – obviously the new ball did a bit, but it does on every pitch.
“Their shot selection was just poor.
“They were always going to be tough because they’re a good side, Leaguies – but they played some stupid shots and it wasn’t the wicket to go out and try to attack.”
Flood was well-supported by an understrength Coro attack, with veteran Jamie Bennett (4-20) also a standout in the first innings and spinners Shane Hutchinson (2-25) and Tim Rand (2-7) vital in the second.
“They might not have taken all the wickets but it’s about bowling in partnerships,” Pascoe said.
“Jimbob (Bennett) was bowling tight at one end and Floody was just bowling sheer pace at the other.
“It was a good mix. We’ve been speaking about that over the last few weeks – our bowling sums us up.
“If we’re on song, we’re pretty hard to beat.”
The only Panthers batsman to make a score was Jimmy Binks in the second innings, who scored a stubborn 52 but simply ran out of partners.
No other Leagues Club player made double figures in that innings, while only two – Logan Matheson (11) and Binks again (10) – could manage that feat in the first.
“Jimmy was the only one that didn’t play any rash shots,” Pascoe said.
“As soon as the spinners came on he took advantage, which is how he plays.”
But the spinners also brought him undone, and he was caught out by Fletcher Josling on the boundary rope off the bowling of Rand just after making his half-century.
The result only serves to worsen a bottleneck at the top of the GDCA ladder with Exies now top of the tree with Leagues Club, Coro, Yenda and Diggers breathing down their necks.
Coro takes on Exies next week in a mouthwatering clash to bring the first-grade regular season to a close.
“I think we’re equal third now but it’s a very, very tight ladder,” Pascoe said.
“If we can knock Exies off it’d be another terrific confidence-booster for the boys.
“We’ve been playing better cricket. We’re coming good.
“It’s just last year we were winning the close games that we’ve been losing this year.
“That shows, and we’re not as high on the ladder as we were back then, but we’re coming good.”