J-Cup: Sharks vs MAX, Sano4, 01.07.12
By Kris Bayne
(Heavy sigh) Another day, another Sharks defeat… As our season, if we can call it that, moved into July we can be forgiven for thinking that it was still May and we have go-gatsu blues. This time we succumbed to MAX (and didn’t get our hands on 99!), but, although we went down, there were some positives that we can hope that with some luck and with a more concerted effort, a win is not far away.
It was a big day for the Sharks as we played in the morning and umpired three games in the afternoon by providing two umps for each! Can’t say we don’t do our bit! We had the better of the weather in that respect, being, HA!, you guessed it, rained out eventually in the afternoon.
Our opponent, MAX, were beatable (as everyone is) and also featured our nemesis from the previous week’s debacle in bowler Hagihara.
The team for the day was Dave L (c), Sumon (vc) Anton, Rockey, Sushant, Sagar, Chris M, Murad, Tommy, Navin, Vicky with Kris B as 12th. The week had been brilliant sunshine over most of Honshuu so right on cue, the captains walked out to toss under cloudy Sano skies, with rain expected after noon… If Egyptians had played cricket, they wouldn’t be able to see the pyramids for the trees!
Dave won the toss.
All major world media outlets were duly notified of this, and, for a while, debate raged in editorial meetings worldwide over the most newsworthy item of the weekend: the Sharks winning a toss (aka the bleedin’ miracle), a fundamental property of elementary participation in cricket, or the discovery of Higgs’ boson (aka the God particle), a fundamental property of elementary particles in the universe. Higgs won out, but I suspect some thought it was the unearthing of great Kyabram, Victorian and Australian leggie, Jimmy Higgs’, original version of the doosra, circa 1976.
We batted. Crows flew over head, in good humour.
Our Achilles heel… and other body parts. We have been imploding like vacuum flasks in all-boy school Yr 7 science classes. We must rectify this, but, clearly not before we exhaust all possibilities of doom. Murad and Sumon sauntered out, opening carefully against accurate bowling, and we were a bit unlucky that the skies cleared and the humidity rose. After surviving Hagihara’s best Sumon (4) popped one back to the surprised bowler to bring Dave L to the crease. In an example of karma, Dave laced one back up the pitch two balls later, only for the bowler to fingertip it onto the stumps, stranding a previously comfortable-looking and now aghast Murad, runout for 3. Next in was Navin, looking to atone for his disgraceful duck (wasn’t that a mid-60’s dance craze?) last innings. At first opportunity he reminded us of ‘that’ shot, this time having it fall short for a run. Next over he celebrated his good fortune by driving hard and straight to a deepish mid-on and calling Dave through. Hagihara (yep) gather and promptly uprooted middle and off from about 35 metres and a none-too-happy Dave was on his bike for 1. The crows dropped dead from Dave’s mere thoughts. So, with some scrappy runs and extras here and there by Over 7 we were 3/17.
A batting line up shuffle and Rockey, after rolling around in Kris’ kit bag for 15 minutes, made his tentative way to the crease and to a field of tail-up MAXes. You can’t say the lad doesn’t have a good eye as Rockey got bat on just about everything, some it he shouldn’t have. Unfortunately it did not result in runs and we went into our shells here. The bowling was steady but we did not take enough singles or second runs and perhaps treated it with too much respect./care. From Over 6 to Over 11 we only put on 11 runs against probably MAX’s second string. BUT, to their credit, Rockey, Navin and Sushant did not give up their wickets. We need to find that balance. But eventually Navin (8) holed out, Rockey (8) stuck around but picked out a fielder and Sushant (3) middled one back to the bowler after an extended stay. By Over 11 we had wandered to 4/26 and all recognised bats were back over the rope. Bowler Fukushima brightened our day a bit with an 11-ball over but on that culminated in young Rockey’s demise.
Enter Vicky, who would be the first to admit his batting had been indifferent in 2012. Well, if Higgs found his boson, Vicky found his mojo. Vicky proceeded to test the limits of the expanding cosmos by launching the hapless Kurisu (no relation to me, him or us!) for 14 (2, 6, 6, and some change) and another max from a MAX before Hagihara’s return ended with him finding a fielder, caught for an entertaining and so Varun-like 28 (off 17). That and some help from the bowlers saw us a still fragile 7-80 at over 18. Tommy and Anton were now paired. 12 balls to glory (isn’t that an old Johnny Cash song?), and in a sign that a Shark tail can wag, they had a crack! Tommy got a significant piece which found the straight boundary (the one behind him) to the delirious delight of the now animated Chiba Sharks. The whoops and yells ramped up when Anton deposited Hagihara up and over mid-on for 3 and then went one better with a glorious 4 in his last over. The final 9 overs had added 66 runs for 3 wickets and at least we had something to both smile about and defend! Sharks 7-92 off 20 overs.
We were probably 15-20 runs short of what we could have run up and our two run-outs hurt. BUT. It was a bit of sign for the future and an anatomical marvel that the Sharks tail put it’s head down and chanced their arms. It was something we had been missing for quite a while, like Higgs boson.
|K. Murad||r.o. (Shukla)||3||16||0||0|
|S. Haque||c&b||b. Shukla||4||10||0||0|
|D. Lollback||r.o. (Hagihara)||1||7||0||0|
|N. Jinasena||c. Shukla||b. S. Kobayashi||8||18||1||0|
|S. Mehmood||c. Hagihara||b. Fukuyama||8||21||1||0|
|S. Lumb||c&b||b. K. Kobayashi||3||14||0||0|
|V. Sancheti||c. S. Kobayashi||b. Hagihara||28||17||0||3|
|A. Lloyd-Williams||not out||…||9||11||1||0|
|M. Tomiyama||not out||…||4||4||1||0|
|Extras||…||nb0 w19 b3 lb2||…||…||…||…|
|Total||92||For 7||…||…||Overs 20|
We would have to be right on top of our game to win this but stranger things have happened. Chris M and Vicky open hostilities for us, beating the bat countless times for no reward. In the absence of a ‘keeper Sumon volunteered to take the gloves. The field were on to anything in reach and by the first change we had kept MAX to 17 off 4. The double change to Navin and Sagar did not get the results were wanted – a wicket or more – and our chances took a dive when Navin’s dodgy knee flared up after a few balls, forcing him from the field and activating Kris as 12th. Rockey completed the over but MAX visibly settled and started to make inroads on our score. The middle overs cost as heavily and basically put the game beyond us. This was a stark contrast to or own middle overs. Where was Higgs and his boson when we needed him/it? Our first breakthrough came in the 12th over when Dave got the batsman to touch one back to Sumon behind the stumps. Well, not exactly ‘touch’. A significant edge flew up and between ‘keeper and first slip but almost casually Sumon just stuck up the glove and there she stuck. A spectacular catch! Would this spark us into a massive comeback? The re-introduction of Vicky and the other opener was totally stuffed by a ball that clipped off peg at 78. ‘8 for 10′ had a nice ring and Capt. Dave urged the team to go down snappin’ and swingin’! But MAX dug down and although Chris picked up another wicket with Dave swallowing a catch, the match was conceded in anti-climatic fashion as 4 wides went to the rope. MAX 3-96 off 17 overs.
It is my humble opinion that we have to face the fact that the Japanese teams have ‘caught up’ with us. Any player in the national squad or with Sano practice, practice and practice. They may not look competent at the crease, but they blood-well stay there, and if they do, the runs come. They are very good in the field and each team has a good bowler and crafty back up. The time has come when we need to learn from them, not the other way around. We have to see ourselves as the hunted, not the hunter. This game was lost but we saw some positive signs. We have been better in the field and while we have been falling short of three figures in batting, we have been losing our top order cheaply.
We have to get back to basics, the fundamental properties of cricket. Focus on the elementary parts of the universal game. When we bat, field or bowl. Once we get it all together we will be in with a win! It was said that Jimmy Higgs had 14 different kinds of deliveries. Couldn’t bat for shite, though. But Higgs’ boson might point the way to revive our season! It’s there somewhere!
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