Chiba Sharks C.C. Vs. Wyverns C.C
April 23rd 2016, Sano 1 by P. Grant
The Chiba Sharks season thus far has resembled a two humped camel; they have successfully negotiated the two humps in Max and Sano who will look to feature in the pointy end of the season. Now they face Wyverns who on their day can play as pretty as a camel’s eyelashes or as ordinary as a…… (Let’s just leave that there).
After having played both their first two games at SICG it was time for a smaller more batting friendly Sano 1, which has been the site for some wonderful Sharks moments in recent years. Facing the Sharks was a Wyverns outfit featuring two of Sano C.C’s wasted talents in Kano and Goka, as well as some canny old foxes in Uehara and Nanayakkara. Some quality there meant that it wasn’t going to be a One-Camel-Race.
The Sharks had a fairly similar line up to the sides that knocked over MAX and Sano. Coming into the side was Dhugal, who was back from his stint on the sidelines, as well as Gaurabh and by popular demand Yosuke ‘I can do it all’ ‘Higapon’ Higashimoto. Making way for these three gents were Sumon, Tommy and a fond farewell to Shakriya who has been a great servant for the Sharks. He is heading home for some time but insists he will be back – hopefully soon.
With the sun struggling its way through the clouds the Sharks were looking to extend their unbeaten run by winning the toss and setting a score so high that Joe Cocker couldn’t reach it on his best days in Sunbury. But to do that they would need to bat 40 overs; something that the Sharks cannot do; it is simple and plain. It is a reality that as Sharks players we must accept and address if we want to win the league.
Captain Dhugal won the toss and predictably elected to bat, effectively giving the Sharks top order best use of the batting conditions: sun shining, little breeze and short boundaries. Perfect, one would have thought, as Navin and Pav opened up the innings with some positive stroke play. Navin was looking ominous playing Nanayakkara off the front foot out to the boundary for a much needed confidence boost. However, not too long after, with the score on 15, Nanayakkara slipped one past Navin’s defence like a thief in the night and ended a promising innings from Navin for 9 off 13.
Vivek, sporting a new hairstyle which can only be described as a ‘Not quite Brazilian,’ looked to continue his fine form of brutal new ball battery, but sadly was trapped in front second ball which. This writer can empathise as it is an awful feeling.
2-15 with first game centurion Dhugal and Pav at the crease in all too familiar territory, with two early sharks’ wickets back in the shed. Pav, who looked patient, was setting himself for another long stay but followed Viv and Navin shortly after for 1 after he too was bowled by Nanayakkara, making the score a familiar sad reality of 3-17.
Mainstay Dhugal and young man Takady looked to steady the Sharks boat by slowing things up, and pushing the reset button on a frenetic start to the innings. Dhugal and Takady looked the goods as they sought to take back the momentum with some boundaries and smart running but when the score hit 25, Dhugal was adjudged to have tickled one through to the keeper. 4-25 and in serious peril Dhugal sent in Paul to steady things up and bat long. He looked to do just that by edging through the slips and playing at balls he perhaps should have let go. Runs came fairly quickly for the sharks with 14 coming from one over which also ended Paul’s innings of 15 from 13. 5-45.
The task was up to Takady and Yosuke to rescue and set a somewhat defendable total. Yosuke obliged and sent his first ball over the bowlers head for four showing complete disregard for the situation and to his credit stayed true to his strengths (what pressure? the man has nerves of steel). A rescue operation was on as Takady looked dastardly good; one observer at the ground was heard to say “is that Ron Burgundy out there?’ Things seemed to be looking up for the sharks as Takady took 13 off one ball (sent a no ball for six and the free hit for six too). At drinks the sharks made it to 5-100 with Yosuke on 20 and ‘The Anchorman’ Takady on 30. Shortly after drinks however Takady played over a Yorker from Raheel Kano and was bowled for a classy 34. 6-107 and still in fairly treacherous territory Asala went out to bat in the cap thinking ‘Today is my day.’ Right from the get go Asala dispatched a six and a four as well as any early nerves.
Yosuke had found a partner to push the runs and bat long. The two masterfully chose which balls to play and which to bludgeon for six or four. Speaking of which, one six that Asala sent packing was declared lost and to show the class of Yosuke he put down his bat and helped the search party look for the ball, quite a decent thing to do in the middle of an innings approaching 50. Any other batsmen would be fully focused on his innings back in the middle.
With another ball called for, the teams returned to play with Asala and Yosuke doing a magnificent job of rescuing the Sharks. The partnership between the two had passed 50 then 60, then at this point Yosuke who so sensationally got off the mark with a defiant boundary brought up his 50 in perfect Yosuke style, which in years to come will be remembered as one of the great innings’ played by a Shark in any form. The partnership had reached the devils number of 87, Nanayakkara threw in an effort ball which Asala couldn’t quite cover and popped up a simple return catch for a brilliant 49. He deserved 50 and was sadly unlucky not to get there but I think in his mind he’d known that he had given the Sharks a fighting chance and that to him that is probably worth more than personal milestones. 7-194 and the Sharks had taken back the momentum of the game and were looking to post a score north of 230.
Vicky came to the crease with Asala’s exit and looked to bat until the end. Vicky looked the goods as he worked his way to nine off eight balls and seeing the Sharks past 200 but then found himself caught by Kano off Nakano. The score was 8-209 in the 36th over and it was looking like the Sharks would bat out the 40 with Rui joining Yosuke to pile on some more pain for the Wyverns bowlers. Rui decided he wanted some boundaries too. But Yosuke eventually succumbed to fatigue and was dismissed for a well-made and desperately needed 59.
Rui and Gaurabh were left with a task of seeing out 15 balls to achieve a rare feat of taking the Sharks through to 40 overs but this came undone when Rui was sadly caught short of his ground in the 38th over and thus closing the Sharks innings at 227 all out which given the perilous position the Sharks were in just 2 hours before was a massive ‘get out of jail free’ card and to some batsmen should serve as a lesson that application and patience and the will to scratch around will eventually produce results. The three main highlights of the innings were Takady’s 34, Asala’s 49 and Yosuke’s 59.
With 227 on the board and the rampant mood the Sharks bowlers were in, especially coming off big wins over sides that boasted Japan’s best batsmen, you would think that the Sharks were un-backable favourites to run riot over Wyverns. Cricket is, however a funny game.
Vivek had a point to prove that his day was not over. He took the new ball with the wind, steamed in and sent down some serious heat at the Wyverns openers Kano and Okoshi. Neither had much interest in wanting to face Vivek and sought refuge up the non-strikers end. However, that would be their downfall as Rui was too still feeling the buzz after the Sano game. Rui got the ball to move around a little into the breeze and in his second over trapped Okoshi LBW for 1. But it was in his second over that the 30 odd people at the ground would witness ‘The greatest catch in the history of the world’.
In 30 years’ time, I think that 30 people at the ground will have swelled to 30,000 as everyone whoever meets Rui will say ‘I was there the day you took that catch against Wyverns’. If you ever youtube ‘Paul ‘Fatty’ Vautins catch’ you will see a mere imitation at best of what we saw. Needless to say that Nanayakkara’s day came to an end with ‘that catch’. (no photos were taken of this momentous occasion we will have to rely on illustrations)
2-14 and the Sharks sensed a capitulation. It didn’t come as easily as some thought. Steely resolve came through Japan international export and Newport Digman recruit Uehara and Kano. The pair got the score to 2-38 when captain Dhugal threw the ball to the helmeted Paul to break up things which is exactly what he did by trapping Yoshi Uehara in front for 11.
Ohta and Kano seemed to steady and prevent a Sano-like capitulation with a partnership of 23 before Kano became Paul’s second wicket of the day tickling a leg lance to Asala. 4-61 with three big wickets back in the shed, but with Ohta still a thorn in the Sharks’ side at the crease, who still potentially had the power to pull off an unlikely win for Wyverns. However, this came to end with Takady exploding his stumps. 5-106 and only Mr. “18inch python’ Iwasaki offering resistance, or so we thought, until Yamada joined him for the innings of his life, and to his credit withstood the firepower of the Sharks bowlers with Vicky, Higapon and Gaurabh going wicketless until Pav combined with Asala to inflict a run out of Hulk Iwasaki and thus extinguish any hopes of a Wyverns upset.
6-113 and Daylight fading, Gaurabh was given a second spell with the ball and quickly delivered with his first shark’s wicket by knocking over Nakano for 8; a well-deserved wicket for the young fella who earlier took a blow to the head in a fielding mix-up shark courage right there.Some lusty lower order hitting got the score 142 when Vicky was called back to end the innings with two wickets in two balls and the number 11 batsmen Goka walking to the crease. (Probably the best chance to nab a hat-trick one would say) but to young Goka’s credit he withstood the nonsense from the Sharks fielders and kept out the hat-trick ball.
It wasn’t long after that that the end did come when Takady took Goka’s wicket and sending the sharks to the top of the table with a 62 run win and maintaining a 100% record the JCL div.1.
It wasn’t necessarily a fait accompli, as the Sharks were forced to bowl 35 overs for their 10 wickets as well as leak easy runs. It was a good hard earned victory as Dhugal mentioned at the conclusion of the game with some very valuable contributions from everyone. Other sides can be forgiven for thinking that the Chiba Sharks are a just a side that relies on their big guns, however this game proved that the Sharks have talent literally oozing out of every orifice.
Big runs to Yosuke, Asala and Takady and wickets to Rui, Gaurabh and Vicky showed that Chiba are a side that can put out 11 quality cricketers who can stand up at any time on any given day. It’s a long season but Chiba has given them self every opportunity to be there on that ‘one day in September’. Next up is the old foe. Tokyo Wombats in Fuji will provide a stiff test for the Sharks’ big game credentials.
(Stay tuned for Pav’s video of our batting on YouTube)