Name: Batting Center Giants (But all in Katakana)
Location: Funabashinichidaimae – Middle of nowhere really.
Access: It’s on Narita Kaido street at the eastern end of the Army complex. Best to go by car but there is a bus (15 mins) from Stop 2, North exit of JR Tsudanuma station. The bus is for Takatsu Danchi. Get off at Kita Narashino Danchi Iriguchi and continue walking in the direction of the bus for a hundred yards or so.
Cost: 1 game (25 balls) – ￥250 or 5 games for ￥1000. You buy tokens from a guy in the window as you enter.
Mechanics: You stick your token in the slot and choose your ball speed (80/90/100/120/140 kph) and set the height (higher or lower). Apparently holding the down button for about 3 seconds gives the lowest pitch.
What you get: An old style mechanical arm flings hard rubber balls at you with no swing whatsoever. At 80 kph you get slightly shortish Yorkers. At 100 you get some very testing Yorkers on an excellent length that really require concentration to fend off, so a good opportunity here to work on your technique if Yorkers are a weakness. As I mentioned, the balls are dead straight although on a windy day you can get some very testing swing. At 140kph the balls have a mind of their own and can come in between ankle and chest height. Useful if you want to practice avoiding beamers, otherwise just a bit dangerous.
Staff: Staff are totally disinterested and watch the telly in the office. I did ask if it was OK to use cricket bats and got a nod of approval.
Anything else: The floor is smooth concrete so a layer of Shoe Goo© on the bottom of the bat would be advisable. There is a rubber strike zone mat right where the ball pitches but it can be removed. It is an outside venue so not too hot and you can bang sixes over the machinery hut into the back net. It also features ashtrays to encourage smoking between sessions.
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