CRICKET: Kade Horan bagged his first five-wicket haul in A-grade as the Gracemere Bulls charged to an emphatic victory in Round 1 of the Frenchville Sports Club Capricorn Challenge.
Gracemere's bowling attack was in blistering form, rolling an under-strength BITS for 62 in the 34th over.
Byron Gale led the run chase with an unbeaten 21 as Gracemere wrapped up the match in the 13th over with eight wickets in hand to score a double bonus point win.
Opening bowler Horan had the ball on a string, tearing through BITS' top order to finish with figures of 5-12 from eight overs.
He took his first wicket on the fourth ball of the innings.
He took his second in his third over, two in his fourth and the prized fifth wicket in the sixth over.
"I haven't bowled as well as I did on Saturday for a while so it was good to have that success,” Horan said.
"I was doing some things with the ball that I couldn't really explain.
"Once I got the second wicket I found some rhythm and things seemed to fall into place.
"The last couple of weeks the ball's been coming out really well so hopefully I can hold onto this for a bit longer.”
Gracemere has made the perfect start to the season, with Saturday's win coming on top of three victories in the Rockhampton A-grade competition.
It seems the only thing they can't win is the toss - they've lost it every week.
"Bowling first is never easy but we've been able to put teams under pressure with our bowling,” Horan said. "Things are going pretty well right now.”
Horan, 20, started cricket when he was five and played his first senior cricket in reserve grade with Brothers.
"A lot of people had me pegged as a wicket keeper because of my build. My dad was a very good keeper and, in reality, there are not too many bowlers who are my height.
"A fast bowler was probably the last thing people were thinking I would become.”
Horan persisted with the ball and quickly went from a handy back-up bowler to his team's strike weapon.
He believes it was as a 15-year-old that he developed into a genuine swing bowler.
"I took about 16 wickets over three weeks for an average of about three runs a wicket.
"That was when I felt I was ready to step up to first grade.
"When I got that chance, which was the following year, I was the leading wicket-taker in A-grade.
"That was when I felt I had established myself and things have gone on since then.”
Horan made the move to Gracemere when Brothers was unable to field an A-grade side last season and has stuck with the Bulls despite Brothers returning to top grade this year.
He has set himself some big goals this year, among them helping Gracemere defend its local and Cap Challenge titles.
Another is to lead the CQ Centurions under-21s to victory in the North Queensland championships, which get under way in a fortnight.
It was in this competition that Horan collected one of his most memorable five-wicket hauls.
Batting first against Mackay, CQ had posted a score of 280. Their northern rivals were only 30 runs shy of the total with 10 overs to go and three wickets in hand when Horan resumed his spell.
Having already claimed two wickets, he took a hat-trick to secure the win.
Horan is hoping he can repeat those heroics in this year's campaign.
"We had our best shot in a long time last year and fell just short on the last day,” he said.
"I'm hoping we can go one better this year and I'm really looking forward to it.”