Winter League Indoor Finals 25.02.12
By Kris Bayne and Anton Lloyd-Williams
Over the years of the much-loved Indoor Cricket Competition, the Chiba Sharks have looked on longingly as various teams took turns to lift the impressive trophy. We generally do well in the competition then stumble in finals, but if not for the one-off entry of the Bangladeshi engineers in 2011 we may have had the pleasure last year. But we didn’t and got thrashed in the Final. This season we got off to a bad start against Sano but from there on, a hiccup in a non-points game against Wyverns aside, we turned out strong, full teams (with extras to help out other teams) and had some impressive wins. Routs, actually. The line-ups put out by the Sharks were often brutal and although the comp did suffer from rather indifferent interest from other teams, there is no denying we were the team of the competition. Whether our traditional foes, Sano and Wyverns, had been bothered to put out their teams or not, we would have kicked their collective arses in any case.
We had two games tonight. Our Semi-Final would be against Wyverns, who we dearly like to beat, and once past them, we would most probably meet Sano, who we dearly like to beat, in the Final. But first a little diversion…
Big Sharks vs Little Sharks
Indicative of the season we had 12 players put up their hands to play in the finals. The selectors had done their best to spread out games over the comp and in keeping with this (and to off-set the sudden format change) we arranged an intra-squad 6-over a side game. To spice it up a bit the winning team would go into the all-important Semi Final.
The selectors chose two well-balanced teams – pace and swing on both sides, some belters and nudgers, a distribution of ‘keepers, spinners each – but the team monikers, ‘Big’ and ‘Little’, only become visibly evident as the teams lined up on the pitch! There was an appreciation how we might look to other teams!
Big Sharks – Dave L, Dave R, Chris M, Chris T, Anton, (with Nazrul a late scratching)
Little Sharks – Kris B, Nick, Sumon, Charles, Sagar, Vicky
It was fun to play against team-mates and as always we went at it pretty hard. In the end the Little Sharks did it pretty easily, winning 32 runs to 17, thus claiming the right to carry the Chiba Sharks banner into battle with Wyverns.
Chiba Sharks vs Wyverns – Indoor Semi-Final (Anton Lloyd-Williams)
The first Semi was Sano vs Senshu University. Sano only had four players so were bolstered by a couple of unemployed Sharks, one of which was Charles who pulled off another Winter League first by successfully fielding his own overthrows.
Having watched Sano outsmart Senshu to get the final, it was pretty clear to Shark onlookers that if we could get to that final ourselves we would find pastures rich and bountiful. However, to get to there we first had to negotiate a tricky looking precipice inhabited by Wyverns. Although they were missing their key player, Chino, at another wedding no doubt, they still lined up pretty strongly boasting youth, hair, pace in attack and ….a lady.
For the Sharks; Charles, Kris (C), Sumon, Sagar, Vicky and Nick – no mean collection of talent themselves.
Kris duly lost the toss and he and Charles mustered arms to take the fight to Wyverns with the bat. Proceedings started politely with the batsmen exchanging nudges off Takahashi’s prudent line before Charles broke out the legendary uberswat for a monster 7 that signalled his intent clearly. Kris then got caught off the side netting but Charles restored parity with a thunderous 8 that needed a tranquilizer dart to stop it eventually.
A hustling over from Masubuchi saw Charles caught at the back of the court followed by six well delivered Takahashi balls that denied the batsmen anything more than 1s and hard run 2s. The first pair got to 23 by the end of their penultimate over. Not fantastic but nicely set up for a blitz in the fourth…which didn’t quite happen due to a bevy of wides and an awful “Yes / No / No / er…Yes / No / Yes / What the %&#$!!!!” run out. Nevertheless a hard earned 28 from the first pair gave us a reasonable foundation.
We’d need some fireworks from somewhere other than Charles box of tricks though and Sumon and Sagar duly supplied. Crafty nudges and diligent (quietly called through in Hindi!) runs off overthrows edged the scoreboard on nicely for their first two overs. Sumon then went all Tendulkar and drove, cut and pulled the hapless Asama all over the green baize with an ominous ease. Sagar added some classic cover drives to the mix which the Wyverns fielders were at full stretch to cut off. Onishi then put in another good over but could find no chink in their armour. With no outs and runs taken off all but 4 balls, Sumon and Sagar added 42 to push the score on to a much rosier looking 70.
Vicky and Nick then took the field to face probably the pick of the Wyverns bowlers; Kiminami and Uehara They played the first over carefully, using Kiminami’s pace rather than blasting shots. While Nick was content to cut, Vicky drove a beauty along the deck to the back wall for a 4 + runs. Uehara quickly found a stingy line in their second over and there was little more the batsmen could do than drive the ball straight back up the field to the bowler. Whereas in games gone past we would have undoubtedly run a suicidal single, caution won out over rashness and the pair kept their wickets intact. After that frugal over, Nick tried to reinvigorate the scoreboard with a swipe at Kiminami which looked a certain 6 until a plucky Wyvern moved across the back wall to take a clean catch above his head. Not to be outdone, Vicky tried the same thing next over with the same result. A couple of well middled 3’s off the last balls though gave us total of 92 to defend.
92 is not a bad score but not out of range either. Remember that Wyverns had a female player, Asama, on triple runs meaning that she could potentially accumulate points quicker than a French motorist. Our five outs had cost us rather dearly and if Wyverns could avoid similar misfortune they only needed to make a modest 8 per over to progress.
Uehara and Onishi lead the Wyverns reply and looked alarmingly solid as they knocked Sumon’s teasers around making 9 in the process. Early breakthroughs would be the order the day and Vicky requested the next over. He has built up a portfolio of aliases over the years; “Smiling Death”, “The Fuji Wrecking Ball” and that very morning “The Funabashi Phallus” (overslept for AGM – ooooh nasty >.< ). Behold the “Kashiwa Can-Opener”! Onishi caused his own downfall by playing the first ball well with a tightly executed flick. Uehara didn’t help their cause by sensibly leaving a couple of wides and smartly driving a 2. All they succeeded in doing was to unknowingly order the “Sancheti Special” which duly came to their table. Entrée – a neutrino speed blur leaving the hand on an off stump line. Main – A sharp late swing in between bat and pad. Dessert – A wobbly middle stump.
The batsmen were a little more edgy against Sumon next over and dot balls started to appear on the scorecard. Seeing this, the batsmen took a few liberties with Charles in the fourth over with Uehara smacking a 5 and 4 off his last two balls. The first pair took their leave with the score on 34, 6 more than we had made at the same juncture and on course to send us home. Cause for concern? Yes, but no need to panic just yet as Kaptain Kris had one or two cards left to play. For Takahashi and Masubuchi, he brought on his secret weapon – himself. The Big Sharks fidgeting behind the keeper were given plenty to nod and hum approvingly about as Kris sent down an over of cannily flighted hypnotisers from around the wicket into the area of uncertainty. With Charles at his Jack Russel Terrier best behind the stumps, the batsmen could do nothing more than nervously prod and pick up the odd single. This was a crucial over as it put the brakes on the Wyverns and Charles followed it up with six more on the stumps which went for a par 8. Kris returned for more guile in the seventh over but lost his line a bit and gave up 3 gratefully received wides. Vicky saw the pair off with an over of pace which nipped away beating the bat on several occasions. Wyverns now on 60.
Asama and Kiminami took the field with the 33 runs required well within reach. Clearly the Wyverns strategy was to get Asama facing as much as possible and it was she who faced some the best bowling the Sharks have produced this tournament, courtesy of the Hogster. It was essential that anything Asama hit be snaffled up quickly or the 3’s would quickly break us. Nick chose a safer path by sending down four magnificent outswingers that started just outside leg, went across the bemused batswoman and were pouched by Kris outside off. Dot. Dot. Dot. Dot. To her credit Asama did not panic and calmly edged the next one for a triple leaving Kiminami to pick up a wide last ball. 65. 28 to get.
Sagar chose pace as his weapon of choice and beat the bat four times. Another Asama edge and a Kiminami single meant just 4 more added to the score. 69. 24 to get.
C’mon Nick!!! One good over now would see us home. A straight one clipped the top of Asama’s middle stump to send the scoreboard into reverse and in desperation the batsmen got themselves run out trying to get Asama on strike for the final over. 66. 29 to get.
Asama bravely took on Sagar taking 12 from him with genuine shots but the bowler had the last laugh, cleaning her up with the final ball of the match to leave Wyverns stranded on 77. It was a gutsy performance from Wyverns who pushed us close. Close but no Sagar!!!
Charles 17 & 0/22
Kris 11 & 0/14
Sumon 32 & 0/17
Sagar 10 & 1/15
Vicky 14 & 1/7
Nick 8 & 2/2
Chiba Sharks vs Sano – Indoor Grand Final (Kris Bayne)
A great win to dispatch Wyverns put us into the Grand Final against, well ‘Sano-Mini’. This is only this writer’s opinion but I couldn’t help but feel Sano ‘dissed’ the competition by putting up such a, well, diminutive team. (What – another bloody wedding??!) Plucky they were, as well as doomed. But, you can’t pick your opposition, but you can do everything possible to send them to defeat.
The Sharks asymmetrically lined up with:
(l to r, t to b)
Anton and Dave opened up and runs flowed smoothly from the outset. Their four overs went in succession for 10, 15, 17, and 9 (inc. a run-out). They were gifted some wides but also made merry, with Dave smashing a couple of nice 6s and Anton one. A feature of their stint was good running to grab the extra runs off back net shots, but the one blemish was a mix-up with Dave going walkabout and getting run-out right at the end. Sharks a very comfortable 51 after four overs.
Next up were Sagar and Chris Malloy. Sano may have been inexperienced but the younger players showed they will be formidable bowlers in the not too distant future. The first two overs at Sagar/Chris M did not go according to our script. The first ball disappeared into the mitts of a fielder, then came a run out and some runs tucked away in between evened it up. Next over good swing got through Chris for a bowled and another run-out knocked us back down to 42 runs at the halfway mark!! Was a boil over on the cards? Naaaahhhhhhh! The boys relaxed a bit, heeded some sage (and increasingly frantic) spectator advice on bat-grounding, and calmly started to work the ball around to rescue their ‘net cred’. Good running turned a regulation 2 into a 5 by carefully watching the field and late hitting by Sagar and sensible placement by Chris got us back to 58 after eight overs. Not exactly where we thought we would be…
Enter Chris Thurgate and Dave Rear; exit Sano’s chance of winning. A couple of tapped 2s was enough for Chris T who then launched the first of his four 6+ rockets. A pattern developed: a wide, then Dave picks them off for a nice net and run, Chris belts the daylights out of it for maximum or at least 4+ etc. etc. The scoreboard went into overdrive as Sano leaked runs through the holes punched in the atmosphere by hard, yellow, formerly spherical objects. By the end of their four overs, with great support from Dave’s placement and running, Chris ended on an even 50 runs, his first half ton for a while, the pair had pounded out 62 and the Sharks finished on 120. Formidable.
Literally (and largely) men against boys here, but our issue was with the win and who stood between it and us. Apart from a massive wide Chris M sent most of the first over either over the top of middle stump or edged off said tubular woodwork. Anton also donated and a few flicked runs came along, but the batsman got away with a couple of close calls (14 after two). Chris’ next was just too quick for the Sano youngster but he survived with some edges. The end started, though, with Sagar pulling off a great piece of fielding. He gathered a difficult and sharply hit ball in close and from his knees threw down the wicket middle stump.
This kick started the Shark machine. Anton had an entertaining second over. A well-placed foot stopped certain runs, he celebrated with a wild wide, the next went clean and unimpeded over the top of middle, a good gather off his own for a run-out, while the next shot ricocheted off a ceiling girder and into the back net for a 5!! Next up – Dave Rear and the Sano over from Hell! Ball 1: confusion and a run-out. Ball 2: nick and great catch behind. Ball 3: catch to Sagar. Team Hat-trick! Ball 4: a simple fluffed run-out!! Ball 5: almost stumped!! Ball 6: another hard nick behind but it failed to stick. This awesome over sent Sano back to the Stone Age with 8 after five overs and it so easily could have been zero!! Dave Lollback decided to try his hand and almost grabbed a couple more wickets before helping out with a couple of wides. Dave Rear returned to bag another bowled and have one go just past Sagar.
Credit to the Sano kids that they were not flinching as both Daves sent them hurling in. They got their bats to the important ones and scrambled back up to 26 after seven overs. The mini-revival did not last long, however, as Sagar, who had been like a tiger fielding at short mid-on, got the ball in his hand. An obligatory wide proceeded a good catch low off the net by Dave R, a good pick up and return to the ‘keeper by Chris M for an out and then Sagar needed no assistance for a bowled – a couple of edges and back to 17 runs in another 3-wicket over.
In the next two, Sagar and Chris T, by the standards of the innings, were dealt with severely as a smartly struck ball actually made it up into a far corner and some heart-in-the-mouth edges and running pushed the score back up. The final over by Chris yielded a caught and bowled and Sano finished 80 runs short of our total.
Chiba Sharks win the 2011/2 Indoor Cricket Championship for the first time with a comprehensive team effort!
Dave L 30 & 0/17
Dave R 12 & 4/-11
Chris T 50 & 1/13
Chris M -3 & 1/8
Sagar 10 & 3/1
Anton 21 & 1/12
It was probably never in doubt that we would win this game. Credit to the younger Sano boys in their efforts – none to their seniors who sent them there. Two devastating Shark efforts, with bat by Chris T (50 mochi-ed runs) and with ball by Dave Rear (4 for -11), were standouts but every member of the team did their bit, as we expect.
Kris, fulfilling a lifelong dream and with a tear in his eye, accepted the gloriously grotesque cup from Miyakawa san, Vicky also picked up an award for Most Wickets Taken and Charles picked one up for Most Runs. Sterling stuff chaps!
So, good cheer all round was taken to the Sharks spiritual home – Kashiwa Saizeriya where the beer flowed and the chicken wings verrily flew off the tables. This year had seen a very convincing Winter campaign with several new Sharks showing what they are made of. And it’s good stuff too. Bring on the great outdoors!
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