Now shadows they grow longer and there’s so much more yet to be told… I can no longer go down there, down to that sacred ground. Paul Kelly (“Bradman”)
So another Japan cricket season has come to an end. Pads, gloves, helmets have been aired out in the warm autumn sun; stored away with lingering regret but much loving care, til the already anticipated day in the coming new year. And while, as we did so, we may have contemplated the parts and sum of our individual deeds in the season past, both dashing and dastardly, there was one more meeting of Sharks to both rejoice in cricket and honour our brothers as they made their mark in 2009.
Ladies and gentlemen and bald-headed babies: I give you the CHIBA SHARKS CRICKET AWARDS for 2009!
An edited version of the Chiba Sharks assembled once more in Yurakucho for our Annual Awards and lunch at Ashoka Indian Restaurant. In some cases the missing Sharks were proof that there is indeed ‘life’ outside of cricket – some a-studyin’, one a-betrothen, some relocatin’, and one a-nappy changin’. They may have missed the chance for some the vegetable biryani or chicken tikka, but they were there in spirit.
Our official proceedings got underway care of our emcee, Markus Adams, who led us in a toast to the Sharks committee and a general rousing KAMPAI! Captain Chris Thurgate then welcomed all new players for the 2009 season and minded us of those who have moved on to greener wickets in distant homelands. As for the season 2009, Dave Lollback took us on a trip down short-term memory lane.
We recalled that we started off with a bang against the Predators (friendly) and Embassy (JCL) only to be brought to ground with a thud by the Giants (KCL) and then Wyverns (JCL). The middle of the season saw the Sharks swim hot and cold, but back-to-back wins got us into the JCL semi-final against Wyverns. Alas, the cold tap was running and that was that for our JCL season. Our last KCL game pitted us against the Giants, who had wiped up Ageo with us by 167 runs in April. A much more sterling performance still saw us on the losing end.
The general consensus was that our bowling and fielding were at times very good, but that we let ourselves down with some titanic batting collapses. Perhaps the team highlight of the season was the August 16 win against the Predators in which the Sharks defended a score of 80, blasting out the Predators for 56. The season record showed 10 games played, four wins and six loses. A number of games, including our always-anticipated clash with the Wombats, were washed out.
WIN vs Predators (friendly) Man of the Match P. Kale
WIN vs Embassy m.o.m P. Kale
LOSS vs Giants m.o.m Mayank
LOSS vs Wyverns m.o.m P. Giles-Jones
LOSS vs YCAC m.o.m C. Thurgate/D. Lollback
LOSS vs Lala Zaar m.o.m C. Thurgate
WIN vs Predators m.o.m V. Sancheti
WIN vs SANO m.o.m N. Creece
LOSS vs Wyverns m.o.m V. Sancheti
LOSS vs Giants m.o.m P. Kale
(See details of all games on a separate post.)
After a break for some great food and conversation we moved onto the main event – the individual awards for 2009.
It is always true of sports in general that no-one is bigger than the game, but there are those that stick out and we gather today to honour them. In case you did not already know, here are the categories for the Shark Awards as votes by their peers and or deeds:
Best Fielder Awarded to the player who gathered the most “F” votes throughout the season
Best Bowler Awarded to the player who gathers the most wickets in the season, regardless of the number of games played.
Best Batsman Awarded to the player who scored the most runs in the season, regardless of number of games played.
Best First Year Player From among the Playing Members who are participating in their first year with the Sharks, the member who receives the highest number of votes in the period from the end of the preceding awards ceremony until the beginning of the current awards ceremony.
Spirit of the Shark Awarded to the member, chosen by the Club Captain, who best embodies the spirit of the Sharks and who through his or her actions makes a significant contribution to the Sharks over a period of time.
Cricketer of the Year Awarded to the outstanding player of the year as voted for by all cricketers in the 3, 2, 1 method throughout the season.
Readers should now loosen all clothing, remove sharp objects, commence a drum roll, with both hands if you please, and scroll down a la Jimi Hendrix, or whip your socks off!
WINNER: Nick Creece
Nick hauled some absolute screamers in the slips region in 2009, giving new meaning to the expression ‘hang time’. He was also worth his weight in runs denied with his cat-like reflexes.
WINNER: David Lollback with 10 wickets at an average of 9.71
Great effort by Dave among a great bowling attack. Who could forget his slower ball to remove, absolutely all ends up, the well-set YCAC anchor, errr, what was his name again??? There was a three-way tie for second place: Alexis Coovre, Prashant Kale, and Varun Sancheti with 8 wickets apiece. The leather-hurlers indeed had it over the willow-wielders in 2009 as the spread of wickets shows. This is all the more impressive for two reasons.
Firstly, our cause-of-panty-wetting-best-bowler-in-Japan-in-2008, Levi Thurlow, was doggied by various injuries in the season past. Secondly, the Japan ace, Pat Giles-Jones was outed for some games with an injury incurred on national duty and, let’s be honest, he was just too bleedin’ good for most batsmen to get a touch. When we get all these blokes fit, firing and on the same paddock – watch out!
WINNER: Prashant Kale with 247 runs at an average of 49.4 and HS of 114
Second place: Pat Giles-Jones with 166 runs
Third place: Nick Creece with 152 runs
Prashant joined the Sharks to experience life outside of the YCAC cocoon and hopefully push for national selection. He did not do his chances any harm with this season. He would be the first to admit a bit a slump in there but he was a pleasure to watch as he more often than not craved up the bowlers. Like ‘Mad Max’, let’s just be thankful he’s on our side… well, usually. Congrats to Pat and Nick for some solid innings also.
Best First Year Player
WINNER: Varun ‘Vicky’ Sancheti with 66 votes (and 4th place in overall voting – excellent performance)
Second place: Rishafy Mohamed
Third place: Kris Bayne
Vicky was a revelation this year and after a bit of a slow start he hit his straps, not to mention some stumps and some cricket balls, to pick up two Man of the Match awards. One for his devastating performance in the Predators game. Doesn’t know the word ‘defensive’ when batting and, arms and legs a-flying, he ripped out some great wickets. And he’s a top bloke (not suggesting other Sharks aren’t).
Spirit of the Shark
WINNER: Iain Lambert
A cricket club is more than just a team of eleven or twelve (or ten) blokes showing up at an oval. So much goes on behind the scenes before that happens. The 2009 Spirit of the Shark goes to a thoroughly deserving Iain Lambert who, due to injury, could not even play the game he loves, but still dealt with all manner of issues and inquires of behalf of the Sharks. A man who, by his own admission, would, if he had followed up on all such inquires, be incredibly rich, be the proud sponsor of several dozen cricket teams, and be permanently erect. Keep up the good work, Iain! And last but not least…Cricketer of the Year
WINNER: Prashant Kale (88 votes)
Second place: Pat Giles-Jones (76 votes)
Third place: Dave Lollback (73 votes)
Prashant’s feats with the bat have already seen him take out the Batsman of the Year award. This, combined with his eight wickets from crafty swing bowling makes him a worth winner of the 2009 Cricketer of the Year Awards. ‘Cricketer of the Year 2009’: Prashant Kale. Usually lots of flash, but not this time (sorry).It can be said that Prashant hates to lose and while he may not say much along those lines, it is evident in the intensity at which he plays. And play he does, as it seems to be everywhere there is a game. But just take a break when the Sharks play YCAC next, hey?!
Finally, a farewell, of sorts…
Sir Isaac Newton claimed he owed his discoveries to the fact that he stood “on the shoulders of giants”. In the case of the Chiba Sharks, one of the giants we can thank for giving us a great club is Markus ‘Graphic’ Adams. One of the earliest members of the club, Markus today announce his retirement as a active player. As we all know, and especially those who have had the pleasure of sharing train journeys from Fuji can attest, Graphic is not the retiring type. But Markus has decided that his time is up. He retires having played 33 JCL and KCL matches as an Ichihara and Chiba Shark. With the bat Graphic had thirty innings for 225 and a top score of 38, but it was a bowler of leg-spin that sees him as the second highest Sharks wicket-taker: 153 overs, 20 maidens, 43 wickets with a best of 5/9. Good leggies are as rare as hens’ teeth and one as dynamic and unpredictable off the field as Graphic, well, there is only one. Thanks Graphic and it is never too late to come out of retirement!
We will end this report (finally) with thanks to Mayank for setting up the restaurant and Zulu for general organising. ROLL ON SEASON 2010!