JCL – Sharks VS Predators, 16/8/2009
By Alexis Coovre
The Chiba Sharks defended a tiny total, defeating the Tokyo Predators by 25 runs.
Eight Sharks met on platform nine and three quarters, and boarded the train bound for cricket land, under azure skies and anxiety busting sunshine. Ten minutes behind them another shark tailed them tirelessly.
At Fuji, two more Sharks appeared, and the group was now ten. They set up camp under the buzzing communal shelter that was provided, donning their pure white garb, before forming a circle and holding court. A green clad Shark came out of the shadows and joined the assembly. The Sharks were now one.
The grass freshly mown, the pitch clean and flat, the outfield a sea of green rigidity, meant there was nothing left but to ‘get out there’. Thurgate won the toss, and chose to bat, confident that his double reinforced batting line-up would do the job. Ten predators took to the field, and a Shark was left holding the mobile…
Lollback strode out to bat with his long time mate, Creece, ready to face the music, and determined to make good of another rising sun rumble.
The Predators’ bowling, seemingly innocuous, carried with it a chicanery, which incapacitated and almost knocked-flat the Sharks’ semi final hopes.
A couple of quiet runs were notched up before Younis, who floated in on a short run up, bowled a ball that sat up and said, “hit me”. Creece obliged but only found mid-wicket, who took an easy catch.
Giles-Jones took his mark, and quickly put his head down, keen to notch up a big one. In Younis’ next over, he bowled the same ball that he bowled to Creece, and Lollback played it the same way for the same result; the Sharks were two down for next to nothing.
The destructive Kale joined GJ, and was ready to unleash hell like he did in the friendly earlier in the year. But it was not to be. Younis got the scalp he wanted, bowling a sneaky off cutter/spinner, which sneaked between Kale’s bat and pat, sending Younis into a Hyena-howl of ecstasy, and Kale back to the hutch. The Predators couldn’t believe their good fortune, and dreams of their reaching the semi finals lay tantalisingly within reach.
The Sharks were really in s*** now, and the Predators were swarming. Out the skipper went, and with him the hopes of the Sharks. A man who loves to get on with it, Thurgate thumped one to the fence showing that Sharks don’t like to be dictated to.
Crash! The ball smashed into the groin of Thurgate, who was batting out of his crease. Younis, never one to die wondering, asked the question, and the umpire, with one eye on the traffic, obliged him so.
Now the Sharks were really up the creek. Man in form, Sancheti, replaced the skipper, and began what was to become the highest scoring innings of the match.
Head first, heels last, Younis lobbed in, sending down his slow peeling bananas. Bamf! GJ got hit on the pads, and the umpire had his hand up before the excitable bowler had time to ask the question.
Agarwal joined his mate, with the scoreboard at 5 for 40 odd. He ran hard as his partner milked singles hither and thither, and the centre square was a two way jumble of Hindi cries. Sancheti began teeing off for ones only, riding his luck at times in the outfield.
Inspired by his partner’s lofty ideals, Agarwal sought to beat the slow outfield and go over the top, but only gave deep mid off an easy catch, off the bowling of Siby.
Adams joined the Sancheti resistance, and quickly got off the mark, but a Siby darter got him on the pads, and again the Umpire’s hand was up faster than a rare antique bidder; a shocker, just quietly. Adams remained glued to the crease, refusing to accept his fate, before finally exiting, muttering something on the way out, in the direction of the umpire.
Walters came in, but soon went again, edging a Sibi delivery to first slip. The score line was laughable, and for some Sharks it was the end of the world as they knew it.
Levi’s stumps were torn asunder, without troubling the scorers. In came Coovre at the Paris-end of the order, looking forward to continuing his adventure with Sancheti, from the week before. But the latter opened the gate to the red cherry, and his rearguard innings of 18 was ended. The Sharks were a sorry story – all out for an ephemeral 80!
Not reaching for their bag of sun heated onigiris, just yet, both teams held impromptu meetings, with impassioned speeches by the captains, rallying their troops.
The Predators camp had a spring in their step, and the bottles of Verve Clicquot being placed on ice, pushed the delirious Sharks to the brink. Joyful screams and shouts rang out across the valley as the boys and girls from the national team delved deeper into the ways of leather and willow, over on Fuji 1.
Out strode the Predators’ openers quietly confident that they would polish off 80 in no time. But cricket has a twisted sense of humour…
Giles-Jones bound in with licentious abandon, and quickly began to unsettle the normally unflappable Graeme, with sharp lifters just short of a length. The Sharks’ batsmen might have failed, but the International strike bowler began to shut things down faster than a keisatsu red-light raid.
The sky was a burst of yellow; there was a clap of thunder, the deus ex machina beamed down from overhead, incarnating itself in the body of David Lollback. In he came from the river end, ruffling the batsmen’s feathers with his deceptive pace in bed with slower balls. Ankit, who can be dangerous, had no time to adjust, and was blasted out by the big man for nought. Lollback repeated step A, on Deepak, and suddenly it was game on!
The last time Graeme met the Sharks he piled on a tremendous 88; a one-man wrecking ball who can win a game on his own. But it was not his day; in his chef d’oeuvre of recent times, Lollback, yorked him with a ball tailing-in to leg-stump, and suddenly 80 seemed like 280.
Sancheti was brought into the attack. The whippety bowler found his rhythm from the get-go, getting a Predator caught behind, and another one lbw. Captain Andy came to the wicket, a grim determination to steer the Predators’ ship back on course. Believing that attack is the best form of defence, Andy took it to the Sharks sending the newly introduced Thurlow way over the rope. His sleight of hand saw the target close in, but a Shark frenzy saw wickets tumble, including his own. Creece was prowling – diving full length to his right at first slip to give Vicky another wicket, and followed up his good work, running out an unsuspecting Predators’ batsman who decided to ‘go for a walk’. Thurlow and Kale chipped in with a wicket each and it was sayonara Predators. The Shark tower was defended.
The two teams graciously shook hands, and Andy briefly held court waxing lyrical on the importance of good sportsmanship, and the way the two teams honoured that. The stumps were taken in, the ropes rolled up, and the Sharks headed to the river in wait of the black ships. Feasting on food and drink on the long journey north, the satisfied Sharks ‘cheersed’ to the great escape that they had just pulled off.
Now is not the time for the Sharks to rest on their laurels. A Sano game lies before them, certain to be a hard fought contest, with both teams wanting to prove a point. With the double re-enforced batting line-up sure to fire this time, and an array of talented bowlers, the Sharks have smelt blood, and are coming to a beach near you.
Never swim alone…