Coolac and Wyangle: a rivalry steeped in history

Duane Shawcross and Coolac celebrate the final wicket during their 2013 grand final victory over Wyangle.

There is no other team that can boast a more storied Tumut District Cricket Association cricket history than Coolac and Wyangle as both sides head towards yet another Elders Cup decider at Bull Paddock on Saturday.

Coolac have been a cricketing-goliath this decade; winning the previous seven deciders and having played in all but one grand final since their entry into the Tumut District Cricket Association in 2009.

Captain Tim Graham has been at the helm of the club since 2011 and he has been lucky enough to call upon the likes of Andrew and Luke Graham, Andrew, James and Joe Scott, Mark and now Tom Sharman, Rob Barron and Duane Shawcross; all names that have become synonymous with Coolac’s years of success.

Before that, Wyangle were the last team to lift the trophy, having beaten Coolac by eight wickets in 2012.

In the two decades prior to Coolac’s current dominance, Wyangle were the toast of the competition, lifting the TDCA trophy a whopping 11 times and featuring in no less than 16 deciders.

In a similar scenario to Coolac, the core of Wyangle’s team isn’t all that much different, with Tom and Dave Shedden still steering the ship.

Although Jason and Neil Bulger have finally hung out the whites for the last time, veterans Matt Stubbs and Matt Webb will feature in the 2019 decider, offering the Shedden’s years of local cricketing experience.

Still, despite this historic rivalry, the 2019 decider has a very different feel, with Wyangle calling on some new faces that have seemingly made all the difference.

Dean Crane has joined the fold, offering raw speed in the bowling attack, while the ever-consistent Jon Breed returned to the team after a year in the Tumbarumba competition, leading the competition with most wickets taken.

Only time will tell if these changes will be enough for Wyangle to reclaim the Elders Cup, or, if Coolac and their years of experience can continue on their historic run and make it eight-straight grand final victories.

Captains back Wyangle and their bowlers for the win

The Elders Cup captains have had their say and there has been overwhelming support for Wyangle to win the 2019/20 Elders Cup grand final.

Defeated semi finalist and Tumut Plains captain Matt Sturt was holding no grudges but predicted Wyangle would break Coolac’s stranglehold on the competition.

“Wyangle wins,” Sturt said.

“Dean Crane and John Breed will be the difference.”

Lippers skipper Greg Crampton also pointed to the Wyangle bowling lineup, suggesting it was their attack that separated them from the rest of the competition but he still envisioned a close contest.

“I think Wyangle win,” Crampton said.

“They have three front line bowlers in Crane, Breed and Hotham (and) I think that might be the difference.

“It will be close though; no more than 15 runs in it.”

Adelong captain Tyron Gorman was also getting behind Wyangle but agreed with Crampton in thinking it would be a very close match.

“I think it will be a tight game but I believe that Wyangle could be too strong if Matt Stubbs and Dean Crane can occupy the crease for a majority of the game,” Gorman said.

“I believe that Wyangle’s bowling attack could be too strong, they’ve been the best team all year, so I think Wyangle.”

Family skipper Caleb Lindley-Kell heaped more pain onto Coolac, saying that Wyangle would win and that Tom and Dave Shedden and Dean Crane would be the difference.

“My honest opinion is Wyangle will win but both teams are evenly matched,” Lindley-Kell said.

“The Shedden boys will always turn up and play a solid game, which could give them the edge and if Dean Crane plays up to his ability, they will definitely have the upper hand.”

Commercial’s Aidan Thomas was the only opposition skipper with any love for Coolac, tipping them to win due to their recent history in big games.

“I am going to say Coolac,” Thomas said.

“They are just really hard to bat in grand finals and their record speaks for itself.”

Can Wyangle go back to winning ways?

It has been eight long years but Wyangle have a golden opportunity to reassert themselves as the competition’s best cricket team.

On March 10, 2012, Wyangle lifted the Tumut District Cricket Association shield for a second straight year, after an emphatic eight-wicket victory over the Highwaymen.

Ray Tollemache, Peter Heath and Matt Stubbs were devastating with the ball on this particular day, keeping Coolac to just 92.

In return, a Tom Shedden’s innings of 57 not out, accompanied by a 25 not out to Stubbs led the Tumut side to a comfortable victory.

Many of those same names will be out in force on Saturday but the Tim Graham captained Coolac has since gone on to bigger and better things.

The Highwaymen have not tasted defeated in a grand final since that faithful day, winning seven straight titles and doing away with the likes of Wyangle, Junee and Lippers in the process.

“It has been a good run,” Graham said.

“We are just happy to be there again and to have another chance to win another one.”

One Wyangle player who has played through all of the ups and downs is Stubbs, who was the captain of Wyangle during their 2012 success.

“We still have some of those same blokes playing, like Tom and Dave Shedden, Matt Webb and myself,” Stubbs said.

“Some of the other guys are still around the group and they like to remind us of those wins and we really want to get back to those winning ways.”

Only time will tell which team will feature on Tuesday’s back page, in turn etching their name into Elders Cup and Tumut cricketing folklore.

Cricket is the real winner

They might not have a team in the grand final but Gundagai District Cricket Association representatives believe cricket is well and truly alive in the region.

Now apart of the Elders Cup, a combined competition with the Tumut District Cricket Association, Gundagai will watch on as two TDCA teams in Coolac and Wyangle fight it out for overall honours. 

GDCA president Tim Ryan didn’t beat around the bush and acknowledged that the two best teams were playing in the decider,

“Cricket is the real winner as cliché as that might sound,” Ryan laughed.

“I have to say that the two top teams got through to the grand final and it should be a cracking game of quality cricket.”

Ryan predicted a tight contest but thought that Wyangle had just enough to knock Coolac off their perch.

“I think last week Coolac played very well with Jimmy Scott digging deep and showing Coolac’s depth but with the week off, Wyangle will be fresh and ready and  they could be a little too strong for Coolac,” Ryan said.

The Gundagai and Lotts representative did suggest that times were changing and Coolac and Wyangle’s dominance of the competition in the last decade could be coming to an end.

“It’s most definitely changing, which is good,” Ryan said.

“I think the young fellas who have been making up the numbers in our team and other teams are now making the numbers.

“They are now opening the bowling and batting for us and other teams, just look at Scotty Cooper, he was only a kid a few years back and now he is opening the bowling for Tumut Plains.”