THERE is no substitute for experience.
Older heads prevailed yesterday as Orange secured its second Western Zone Premier League win, over Cowra at Wade Park.
Former Mitchell and Western Zone representative Richie Venner, and Matt Brakenridge made their mark in their return to representative cricket.
Batting at five and six, Venner (84 not out) and Brakenridge (60 not out) combined for an unbeaten 143-run fifth-wicket stand to catapult Orange to 4-242 from its 50 overs.
After stand-in Orange skipper James Ryan won the toss, Charles Litchfield (1) and Matt Baker (0) departed early, leaving the hosts in a precarious position at 2-22.
Orange worked its way back into the game via Ryan (34) and John Warrington (32) before the latter was run out by Henry Hunt.
Ryan was back in the pavilion soon after, before Venner and Brakenridge pummelled the Cowra attack to all corners of Wade Park, giving Orange a defendable total.
In reply Cowra looked set to chase the total with relative ease after Connor Crook (69) and Henry Hunt (36) pushed their team to 1-132 at the second drinks break.
Once again, Venner imposed himself on the match.
The wily finger spinner trapped Crook in front to spark a huge collapse in which Cowra lost 9-19 to slump to a total of 151, 91 short of the required target.
Venner snared 4-11, with good support from Ryan (4-16) at the other end. Chris Novak (1-21) and Dan Sandford (1-12) also picked up wickets.
Ryan was ecstatic after the win, and heaped praise on the level heads of Venner and Brakenridge.
“Having those two gave us a certain calmness,” Ryan said.
“In the past, if we’ve lost a couple of early ones we tend to panic a little a bit. But with those two at the crease, the grandstand was pretty confident.”
Ryan was unsure of whether the pair would return in Orange’s next game against Mudgee in the new year.
“They filled in today and did a huge job. We can’t thank them enough,” he said.
“Whether they play or not [in the future], today has done huge things for our confidence, especially considering we’re missing three or four players.
“A lot of people wrote this team off, but I haven’t and neither has anyone in the sheds. We’ve shown how good we really can be.”
The win means Orange is now in the middle of its most successful season in recent memory and Ryan said his players will look to continue the trend against Mudgee in February.