JCL – Sharks Vs Paddy Foley’s, 16 May 2010
By Alexis Coovre
The Chiba Sharks got their belated season off to a flying start, winning by 32 runs against a determined Paddy Foley’s.
With four o’clock in the morning courage, our emerald heroes got up, had breakfast and kissed their loved ones goodbye. After an eternity they came up out of the subterranean depths, and navigated their way through the teeming Asakusa streets. Amidst the whistles and chanting, bleary-eyed boys assembled their rent-a-kegs, twinkle-eyed obaasans flicked their octopus dumplings. Boo-doom . . . BOO-DOOM! The ground shook as the portable black floats came closer and closer. The 1500-strong entourage washed over spot X in a wall of fury. BOO-DOOM! . . . Boo-doom . . . And silence.
The 7:55 set out across unchartered territory in search of a place called Tatebayashi. The sun, streaming in through the Perspex, relieved the grateful to be playing Sharks, who sat back and found entertainment in each other – and others down-carriage. From Tatebayashi, the Sharks morphed into a three-car convoy, and before long they were marooned on the side of the road wondering where their ground was; the inverse polygon in front of them, decked with a mat of green and laden spring flowers, turning out to be it. The planetary strangers set forth and explored the foreign environment. The sun beamed down overhead, sweat poured down, only to be stopped in its tracks by the icy wind. Word had it that a typhoon was to pass later that day. The skeptics laughed it off, but the believers reminded them that typhoons come in all shapes and sizes. Machines went about their work on the perimeter, padawans rode their pushbikes on the quiet strip, pajama clad rookies slavishly ran laps of the green oasis. Becoming easier on the eye as the minutes passed, the Sano ground, discovered only last year by a geological survey team, is short in length, wide, square of the wicket, being flanked by dusty recreational fields on both sides, Airstrip One to its north, and the Fire Swamp to its south. The playing square is a scouring pad, on top of concrete, rock, lava base, and deep coal well below the line.
The Paddy Foley’s people mover pulled into the car park, players dispersing one by one, brimming with confidence, assessing the foreign conditions. Both teams set about dropping the fishing lines, marking their territory, and building their castles at either end of the square. Foley’s won the toss, and elected to bowl first, in conditions perfect for batting. Not surprised by this move, the Sharks, headed down to the armoury, and suited-up, before marching out and pitting themselves against the world.
First time opener, Bayne, and new Shark, Aashiq, took point duty, and within a matter of seconds they were under the pump from their towering go-to man, who was bowling outside off-stump, and short of a good length. The playful Aashiq flirted at the whizzing ball, but for the moment lived to tell the tale. Richardson kept up the pressure in his first over, but Goldsmith got the first break through, getting Bayne ‘caught’ down the leg side, attempting to work the ball out to square-leg off the back foot – gone for one.
The score 1/7 in the third over, not in trouble yet with Giles-Jones around; the number three batsman having a good look at the bowling, leaving anything on a good length outside off stump. The pair settled somewhat, patiently working the ball around for ones and twos. Richardson, however, began hitting his straps, and in his fourth over shattered Aashiq’s stumps in one fell swoop – gone for seven.
Prashant walked out to see his now familiar batting partner, and they set about upping the run rate. On his third ball faced, he smashed Richardson out of the ground, as is his wont on a cricket pitch. The aggression of Prashant, took the game to new heights, and looking on, Giles-Jones began to also put his foot down, piercing the gap with force majeure. Prashant smashed his 15th ball for another ‘Sano maximum’, but three balls later found a waiting Sule, out at long-off; his 23 off 18 balls, a much needed tonic for the team.
In his first innings for the Sharks, the experienced Ahmed ‘Colonel’ Kamal came out and joined the left-hander who by now was well-set. Relishing his chance to bat up the order, the Colonel showed style and grace from the get-go, pivoting back and forth on his toes and timing the ball to all parts of the ground. The pair took the Sharks safely to drinks, the score 3/127, at the 20-over mark. By this stage Giles-Jones was in Sparkling form; playing in the V and square of the wicket with equal ease.
Foley’s could only watch as the complete cricketers negotiated the bowling attack with clinical precision. The pair put on a 142-run partnership, before Giles-Jones (right), who was looking good for a ton, got hit on the pads, and was given the finger by the umpire. He was right to feel aggrieved, but his silky-smooth 80 off 70 balls, including three sixes, and ten fours, was ultimately a match winning knock.
Often in cricket when one wicket falls, so does another; in the next over the Colonel edged a Moore delivery to the keeper, just falling short of his half century. His 49 off 41 deliveries, including eight fours, another nail in the Foley’s coffin.
Mr Spock and Captain Kirk were new to the crease, but with the score 200 at the 30 over mark, they played with gleeful abandon. Looking solid, Lollback eased his way into things, finding ones and twos, before hitting his straps and blasting successive boundaries; whereas the skipper straightaway crashed home the advantage, at one stage hitting two fours in a row followed by a massive six over the top. Thur-back put on a 5th wicket partnership of 49 before Lollback got caught out off the bowling of Flew, for a handy 15 off 18 balls.
In his first innings for the Sharks, Anshul came in and smote a four, however the front line bowlers were back in town, and Goldsmith soon after had him caught out – gone for four; the score 7/252.
Using his Vivit form to good effect, Anton was looking to hang around with the skipper; however, Richardson had other ideas, skittling his stumps with a ball that ‘did things’ – gone for a duck.
Batting with the skipper for the first time, Coovre looked on as Thurgate copped a rearing Goldsmith delivery on the ribs before falling on to his stumps – gone for a hellfire 34 off 25 balls. Goldsmith tore in; bowling another steepler, this time smashing new batsman Thurlow in the pectoralis major, but the Kiwi just stood there unflinched. The blows for both of them were more serious than first thought, the victims presently recovering in the House of Healing. Coovre finally faced-up, but Richardson bent it through the former’s unlocked gate, gone for a golden, and it was all over; the Sharks all out 254, in 38.1 overs.
Foley’s walked off, glad to have polished the Sharks off in fewer than 40 overs, but somewhat shellshocked by the awesome counter punch they had been privy to. That’s the thing with a Shark – you never see it coming.
The famished Sharks opened their steamy lunchboxes, reaching for their yoshoku creations, whilst the machines of loving grace up on the hill began making way for the first of many automated factories. The murmur remained constant, a nervous giggle here and there; the game was delicately in the balance. Whispers of a nameless fear, from the far side of the world, permeated the Sharks’ camp. Foley’s had to do something special; it was time to bring out their ace in the hole, who was lying fast asleep on the soft green grass. The sleeping giant rose to his feet, grabbed his weapon, and, partner in tow, headed out to seek retribution.
The Sharks, ever mindful of the G-factor, and with a plan in mind, stacked a strong off side field, inviting the attacking Victorian to play his favourite shot. Giles-Jones, the swift left-armer, came hurtling in, keeping things tight and creating doubt amongst the batsmen. The Colonel was equally good, running in like Michael Holding, and springing the ball through to the keeper, beating the bat on many occasions. The sudden quietus was too much for Goldsmith, and in the third over, smashed the ball down the ground, clean over the tarmac.
The bowlers continued to keep things relatively calm; however Goldsmith was just warming up, smashing two more fours and a six, before a bowling change was made. The obdurate Moore did the right thing, carving out ones and twos, giving the strike to his trigger-happy team mate.
Thurlow came in and attacked with 2008 aggression; Coovre entered soon after and did his best to keep things in check when he wasn’t drifting onto the legs, but Goldsmith and friend were unfazed and kept the scoreboard ticking along. Living up to his reputation, Goldsmith smashed two more sixes, bringing up his 50 off only 27 balls; Foley’s 83 in only 14 overs, the Sharks’ paranoia very real indeed. But when you live by the sword, you can also die by it, and Typhoon Davido came in and swept up the Shark hunter, with slower ball 3.1, that went flying out to the safe hands of Prashant, ending the Goldsmith blitzkrieg. The prophecy was true.
With the loss of Goldsmith, Paddy Foley’s shoulders slumped somewhat. Number three batsman Sule, did his best to get on with the job smashing two fours and a six, but was cleaned up next ball by the former ‘best bowler in Japan’. Tails were down again, and the scoreboard started to take a somewhat feverish appearance.
Vice Captain, Flew, strode to the crease, and began what would become a pronounced fight back. He and his partner, who was coming out of his shell, rallied to the cause finding the boundary with alarming regularity. But just when the kingdom was being restored, the safe as a house, Moore tickled a Thurlow tempter, off his hip, and Thurgate, flying to his left, snaffled a raging beauty. Presently the score was 3/132, off 23 overs; the game still very much in the balance.
Prashant came on and disturbed that balance, felling Mozely’s (1) timber with his laser-like accuracy. The Roppongi-ites continued to channel the fighting spirit of the Irish, however, and, led by Flew, continued to put away anything loose with disdain. Flew raced to 25 off 12 balls, including four 4’s, just what Foley’s needed, but the Colonel was brought back into the attack, and soon the former’s castle was a cacophony of firewood.
Richardson and Darrington now found themselves together, and began to regroup with the score at 5/154. The former smashed three fours in a row, to give the run rate a much needed boost, but a re-introduced Coovre had Richardson mistiming the ball out to Giles-Jones at mid-on, his slashing knock of 14 ended. Coovre then cleaned-up Darrington, for six, and the scoreboard was now a sorry state at 7/183.
In a quest to wrap things up before the 32nd over, the Sharks played musical bowlers, coming off second best in a last stand between Captain Keyworth and his able number nine partner. The dark horse, Matthews, in particular, showed that Foley’s have a bit of ticker, smashing the ball over Airstrip One on multiple occasions – the luck of the Irish never ceasing. His lost his captain (7), to a great stumping off the bowling of Giles Jones, but received good back-up from Welch who motored his way to ten.
The score 8/215, in the 36th over, Foley’s close enough if they are good enough. There is a sting at every turn, however, and the re-emergence of Typhoon Davido had Welch caught on the ring, for ten. One wicket left, 35 runs to make; but with Matthews still around, anything was possible. Giles-Jones, back off his long run, declared lights out for Foley’s, Matthews chipping straight to Prashant at mid-wicket. Sharks win by 32 runs.
The players made the gesture of peace ritual, pulled in the fishing lines, tore down the castles, and erased their territory markers. A transmission was made, and moments later the all terrain vehicles appeared, ferrying the Sharks to the access station.
The players picked up supplies, before paying a bit extra and all but one boarding the Class 2 Urban Maglev equipped with hyper drive propulsion system. They nestled in tight, the surroundings became pin-pricks, and they were gone. Meanwhile back at the station, Alexis, upon consultation with Kamal’s mysterious friend, went in search of something. After 20 minutes he found what he was looking for. He walked up to it and stretched out his hand. There was a blow to the guts, and suddenly he was off, ushered through space and time.
The Sharks waited and waited, and waited some more, then finally got out onto the park. The win against Foley’s was indeed a triumph of collaboration. The batting long, the bowling deep, the fielding broad – when it all comes off it’s music, sweet music. Foley’s proved to be a worthy opposition who fight to the end. One gets the feeling the game could have gone either way, if a catch was caught or dropped.
Can the Sharks continue the momentum? Will they keep Prashant and friends, at bay? The Sharks face off against the YCAC, on 23 May, in the KCL. With a new look side, and talent to match, it’s going to be big.
Only a Shark knows the feeling.
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