Winter League Indoor, Finals, Sat March 2, 2013
By Kris Bayne
Once again the Kashiwa Indoor Winter League comes to it’s conclusion with the Finals at Kashiwa. We had a good comp. We had a blast, in fact. We finished top and thus faced 4th placed Okawara (a.k.a Senshu University) in our semi final. In the other semi GoGoKen (2nd) took on Wyverns (3rd). Both are difficult foes but we probably fancied a fight with the femme fatales rather than face the flying, flinging, fielding freaks of Wyverns. This would all be academic if we could not get past the students, however.
This year we had close to 30 different people come and play at Kashiwa, either in practice games or points games. Some came, liked us and will join the Sharks. Some know where to find us if they change their minds. So many players wanted to play that we almost always had in excess of two full teams. Thank you to various players who sat out of games. To accommodate such keenness we held full 12-over practice games each time, often more willing and exciting than our ‘real’ games! Each player that came along got at least one game, often more. The boys at Action Sports were certainly happy with the extra cash.
As is always the case, we tried to balance and share selections and ensure people got meaningful cricket and we were also able to check out new talent – and we had LOTS! In our Finals games the Selectors did their job with care. They recognized the Final as our big challenge (last year it was the Semi Final) so they had to select a Final team that could deal equally well with GoGoKen (strong bowling to limit the scoring) or Wyverns (strong ground stroke batters to limit the acrobatics). For the Semi we needed all-round experience as Okawara were a bit of an unknown quantity. They got it juuuuuust right!
Semi Sharks vs Final Sharks
We pitted the teams as selected, sprinkled with Sean and Sagar in our warm up game. As usual, Shark on Shark is pretty full-on. There is no concession to seniority – in fact it is more like a bull’s-eye – only batters and balls and both are in line to get whacked! Bowling first Semi Sharks did well to restrict Final Sharks to 76. Justin ran up 31 runs and Dave L 22 while Chris M had a huge 2nd over grabbing 4/-18! In the Semi Shark innings, facing the bowling might of the club, it came down to the last pair to put the fin down. Then down to the final ball, in fact. Needing three to win the pair scrambled a mad 2 to tie the game. 76-76.
Chris M knocked in 18 and Sean 2/10 and Awal 2/7. No ‘superover’ but a great warm up. One downer was Justin damaging a digit and needing to switch from Final to Semi team… but there is something to be said about the fickle finger of fate… Semi One saw GoGoKen’s tap-and-run game and general abilities fix up Wyverns comfortably in the end so we knew that it would be GoGoKen to beat for the title. Firstly we had to make sure it was us that administered the Final beating.
Semi Two: Chiba Sharks vs Okawara
Team: Kris (capt), Moto, Anton, Mairaj, Charles & Justin
Batting : We lost the toss and were sent in by Okawara. Kris/Moto opened with the aim to ‘play straight, play only when necessary and not to lose wickets’. Boy, did they ever! Moto (19) has only played any form of cricket for less than a year but he picked the nets and milked the wides – and there were plenty – perfectly. Kris (20) did the same and by the end they racked up 39 for the loss of zero wickets! Great foundation!
Next up, Anton (20 inc. a 7) and Justin (15) forced it along against the inexperienced bowlers but in their eagerness lost a couple of wickets. They still tacked on 35. The final pair of Charles and Mairaj had the assignment to hitting us up to a formidable total, which they accepted. Still showing restraint, mostly, they let the wides pass by. Where Mairaj (2) tapped, Charles (37) must have had flashbacks to his former life as a baseballer as a few full tosses outside off stump were duly slammed over centerfield, errr, the bowler’s head rather some maximums. In all he found the back net in some way 5 times. At innings end we were quite pleased and confident with our 113!
Bowling : Kris used the first overs to assess the unknown batting. We ran through most of our bowlers to see who was on and how things shaped up. While Moto (1/18) grabbed a bowled 2nd Over we went wicket less for the next 8 overs (originally we had our shock bowler in Chris M but he switched with the digitalized Justin) with Anton (0/22), Mairaj (0/20) unable to penetrate a series of goofy stances, but neither were we being smashed. It did start to be a bit of a worry as Okawara stayed exactly on course to get the runs. Come the final pair it was 74 (same as we were) and they needed a very doable 10 runs an over.
Kris’ (0/21) first ball of Over 10 disappeared for 7… In Charles’ Over 11, first ball a regulation -5 catch at the back inexplicably ended up a +5… then came two wides… That put them on 104. Just 9 runs to get in 9 balls. It was looking very grim. Okawara needed only to hold their nerve and find the nets to get past us. One bat decided to go for a bit of glory, perhaps, or was it a Steinhardt slower delivery? His slog went up and straight down into Charles waiting hands at the bowler’s end. Ever alert (read ‘eager to throw a hard round object at an unsuspecting teammate’) Charles (2/10) then hurled it back down the pitch where the thankfully suspecting Kris (having been there before) gathered and demolished the stumps – a huge DOUBLE PLAY! Minus 10 runs!
The partisan crowd went berserk and the Okawara visibly deflated! From needing 9 they now needed 19. Just two singles saw out the pivotal over. Justin (0/14), damaged digit and all, sent down the last pressure over. Under the pump to score big the Senshu boys did not have the shots against Justin’s mostly measured and tight line. Semi Final to the Sharks 113 to Okawara 104! We looked shot. We had to rally and did it harder in the end than expected, but this was a satisfying win. A very even game and an even team effort. Good efforts though in runs for no loss chalked up by Moto/Kris was a good start, Justin’s all-round effort under duress and Charles baseball drives and game-changing double play. However it happened it pushed us into our third consecutive Final, this time against GoGoKen.
Final: Chiba Sharks vs GoGoKen
Team: Chris T (capt), Dave L, Dave R, Chris M, Adit & Awal
“Girls and boys, come out to play,
The moon doth shine as bright as day;
Leave your supper, and leave your sleep,
And come with your playfellows into the street.”
So goes the children’s rhyme that is over 300 years old. Well, GoGoKen certainly had seriously “come out to play” as the team comprised entirely of Japan National team players, five from the Women and, surprise!, one from the Men in whirlwind Hagihara. These women are not intimidated by us at all. Not that we go out of our way to do so, of course, and judging by the amount of padding and elastic worn strategically OUTSIDE their clothing (circa. 1968 Jane Fonda in ‘Barbarella’) they could have taken a bazooka blast full on. They have faced the likes of women’s teams from West Indies etc. and know that any bat (or bit of padding) on ball is runs. As always they are very smart bowlers, fielders and fast, astute runners, too. This would be no stroll in the park. With this in mind the selectors had chosen our biggest and nastiest for the final. The toss was won and Chris put GGK in to face them.
Bowling: … and they were just killing us early on. Playing square on either side, the 3s flowed (initially helped by some off the pad…) and the occasional drive through the ‘V’ kept pumping up the score. In the first four overs against the weaker pair we could only get one wicket and they had 46 up. The middle pair then took 21 off Chris T but the arrival of Adit gave us some respite with two wickets. These girls know how to bat and accumulate.
Bang on the halfway point Ota got significant wood on a straight one from Dave R and in disbelief we watched it evade the despairing hands of Dave L and find the back net as they ran a single. 21 RUNS for that shot, which probably should have been a catch for -5!! One shot. 21! Game-defining – yes. This rule is changing next year, but, thus burned NOW the boys took the game “into the street”.
Dave R (1/39) replied with a searing dot, then a stumping as the boys fired up. What was looking like a 150-run chase turned around. Significantly. Quickly. Dramatically. Adit (5/-10) bagged 3 in his next over. Chris (1/29) then got one back. Dave R took ‘that 21” personally and was more Warner than Rear close in, impassable and running out at least three (accidentally body-checking a couple in the process). The general ball speed went up like a Spinal Tap amplifier with the ball finding it’s way through bat, pads, gender-ceilings and general body armour. With nothing hit in the air to catch it rained runouts, bowleds or stumpings as the GoGo score went into reverse.
Surprisingly Awal’s (0/26) yorker radar was awry. The final pair featured Hagiwara, no slouch with the bat, but it may have been a tactical error as his runs were standard points and the bowling kept his damage to a minimum, actually less. Chris M (2/7) chimed in for 2 and a devastating Lollback (4/5) last over of 3 wickets saw the final pair eke three runs in four overs. GoGo normally average 120-130. We rolled them for 86 in the end. And poetically and ironically, 86 is what GoGo were on after ‘that 21’. So zip runs in six overs! Fair effort! Shark Fact File #86: If you are going to poke a shark with a stick, don’t, or only when battered on a plate with chips and a lemon slice.
We still had to get these runs, however, against several canny women and the low-bouncing speedster, Hagiwara. This is where the Selector’s ‘cunning plan Part 2’ came in. All the Sharks were hard-driving straight bats who would find the side nets and back with ease and regularity. What we did not expect against GoGo was that it would be a sub-100 chase. Steady and safe was all we needed. Awal and Dave R, both with points to make took up the challenge. Points proven they matched GoGo’s 46, Awal finishing with a one-blemish 14 and Dave a sparkling 32 (inc. a 7, which maybe have been a reincarnated 21!).
Chris M (20) and Aditya (16) sensibly played to consolidate as we were over halfway there and, bar a catch right at the end, they pushed us up to within four of our target. Our final pair of Dave L and Chris T turned the GoGo game back on them. They worked the square nets with ease and played straight and cautiously through the line of anything else. Nothing over two runs – repeat, nothing! In the final over Hagihara worked up a furious pace but it was met by a brick wall with Gray-Nichols written on it. In somewhat of an anti-climax (though this reporter was still excited) Chiba Sharks cruised to a memorable win, 104 to 86. BACK TO BACK Indoor! Two great games and the Fantasic Big Plastic – “as bright as day” – was ours for another year along other unexpected goodies.
A big THANK YOU to all the Sharks, old, new, and potential who played. With so many Sharks there, including very young ones, it was a real family atmosphere. Also thanks must go the Action Sports Stadium who hold this event, and to Miyakawa-san who works tirelessly as umpire and organizer. We really need to appreciate this man more – he really appreciates us, I know. Thank you to Ishimoto-san who came along, providing participation prizes and Final prizes (to be appreciated at our Umi-no-Hi BBQ!) Next stop – the great outdoors!
Champions of Winter League 2013!!!!
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