Claws are out in bid to again rule jungle

August 04, 2017

Mooroopna Cricket Club captain Andrew Cowen will be taking on the role of head coach at rival club Central Park-St Brendan's.

The king of the jungle has flexed its muscle in a massive way.

After having its pride wounded last year, Central Park-St Brendans needed to find another gear leading into the new Haisman Shield season.

The Tiger’s playing list remains one of the healthiest in the competition, but it was not necessarily on the field where the side was lacking.

Despite the astounding record the club carries - 10 flags in 12 seasons certainly speaks for itself - the aura surrounding Central Park was dented when it failed to make its first A-grade decider since 2003 by meekly crumbling for just 89 in the preliminary final.

Suddenly, other clubs in the competition began to whisper about the Tigers, daring to hope that they too could strike a blow to the heart of the best team in living memory during this coming season.

For an era of such dominance to end in such a fashion would have been almost unfair.

A message needed to be sent - a warning shot across the bow if you will - to remind the rest of the competition that Central Park remained firmly at the top of the food chain and have no intentions of letting its dynasty go quietly into the night.

What a message it turned out to be.

As local sporting rivalries go, Mooroopna and Central Park is right up there with Essendon and Carlton, the Broncos and the Cowboys and Bernard Tomic and hard work.

After Karramomus took out the inaugural Twenty20 flag in 2007/08, the Tigers and Cats have shared the spoils in all nine finals of the shortest format since, with Mooroopna taking the chocolates last year to deny their rival another three-peat.

But it is in the longest format where the crux of this battle lies.

A Haisman Shield final loss to the Cats in 2003/04 burned itself into the Tigers’ psyche, especially then-captain Rohan Larkin who had scored a six-ball three, and provided the catalyst for one of the greatest periods of dominance in country sporting history.

When the two met again the next year there would be no repeat, with Larkin (243 not out) and Peter Holland (86) grinding their opposition into the Deakin Reserve dirt with a partnership of 270.

The rest, as they say, is history.

It makes the signing of former Cats’ captain Andrew Cowen as head coach all the more important to the overall narrative of Cricket Shepparton’s upcoming season, no matter how much both parties play it down.

Cowen, 34, is certainly a capable cricketer, with Victorian Premier Cricket experience in spades, but 902 runs at 20.5 during his three-year stint at Mooroopna is not what will strike fear into the hearts of opposition teams.

It is the fact that the Tigers, who have had their way with the competition with little resistance for more than a decade on the field, are now doing as they please off of it.

To poach your biggest rival’s captain seemingly just because you can shows that Central Park remains the biggest cricketing force in this region.

Can they be stopped? Only time will tell.

All we do know is that the Tigers mean business.

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