JCL2, Sharks vs Adore at Sano 3
Sun 19th May – By Chris Molloy (some additions by KB)
The JCL2 3rd round match saw Chiba Sharks 2nd XI take on Adore at Sano 3. Following two heavy defeats, Sharks desperately needed a win to get some momentum into their 2019 campaign. For this match, we went in with a mixture old hands and young up-and-comers, namely KB, CT, Terry, Dave, Molloy, Koji, Gaurav, Hasan, Ashley, Vipin, and ‘new’ recruit Tetsuo Fujii (the former Japan captain making his return to cricket after a seven-year break), plus Marcus as 12th man. Conditions were ideal for a good day’s cricket, with temperatures in the early 20s and no threat of rain in sight. CT won the toss and decided to bat first.
1st Innings – Batting
Sharks opened with Dave and Gaurav. The pair made a steady start, with some good running between the wickets and Gaurav striking a couple of nice cut shots before falling caught behind off Hagiwara. Molloy then joined Dave and quickly exploited the vacant space at 2nd slip with a couple of edges to the third man boundary but also managed one sweetly timed cover drive before edging to slip off Tuchiya with the score at 45/2 after 7 overs.
Dave, meanwhile, was dealing exclusively in boundaries, the highlight being a six straight down the ground off left-armer Okajima. With the grass cut short, good value was also on offer for any ground strokes that pierced the inner field, and on several occasions shots that looked like comfortable 2s would end up crossing the boundary. In his first game for the Sharks, Fujii looked assured at the crease after a nervous few first balls. His footwork and leg-side strokes in particular caught the eye of the onlooking Sharks and he eventually top-scored with 23.
The two continued Sharks’ solid momentum, pushing the score up to 71 before Dave was dismissed LBW in a somewhat strange manner. After he missed sweeping a low full toss from left-armer Ichiki, Adore appealed and (presumably) the umpire gave some sort of signal of dismissal. However, this seemed to go unnoticed by Dave and drew only a muted response from Adore’s fielders. Nonetheless, Adore gathered in a huddle. Being the last ball of the over Dave slowly wandered down the wicket to have a chat with Fujii at the other end. It seemed very much like the two teams were awaiting a third umpire decision. In fact, the decision was out, and on being informed Dave duly continued his wander off the field.
From there, the Sharks’ innings faltered somewhat. Adore were conceding extras at a generous pace (eventually 38 in all), but a steady succession of wickets meant that Sharks never really looked likely to reach a genuinely imposing total. Hasan played and missed at a few before finding his range with some nice swipes through midwicket to add some much-needed runs. Koji managed to place a top-edged sweep so expertly that even with the ball lobbing for a generous amount of time, neither of two Adore players could decide who should catch it. Terry made a generous sacrifice after a mid-pitch discussion with KB that proved unfruitful. And CT followed Hasan’s earlier lead in peppering the midwicket region with some nice lofted shots. His last-wicket partnership of 23 with KB proved vital and lifted the Sharks to 142 all out after 39.5 overs. A respectable score, but with a required run rate of just 3.5, some disciplined bowling would be needed to put pressure on Adore in their chase.
2nd Innings – Batting
Sharks opened up with Gaurav and Ashley. Both had the pace and skill to ask serious questions of Adore’s batsmen but for whatever reason (injuries? wind? swinging white ball? rust?) could not find their radar initially. With wides piling up, Adore’s batsmen did not need to play any shots in anger, and indeed did not seem troubled about doing so at all. Gaurav eventually reined himself in to a shorter runup and slower pace, and managed to ease the bleeding somewhat.
But unfortunately, the profligacy seemed to spread, as Sharks’ change-up bowlers also contributed a generous numbers of wides and a strangely high number of waist-high no-balls. Adore had been cruising at nearly a run a ball, seemingly without hardly moving a muscle or bat, before old hand (in cricketing terms, that is) KB provided the much-needed breakthrough, caught Thurgate/Thurgate, with Marcus gobbling up an edge at slip after a deflection by wicketkeeper CT. The move to spin yielded further rewards, with Molloy immediately hitting an immaculate line and enticing opening batsman Takita into a swipe that was easily held by Dave at mid-off.
Adore, however, were still cruising toward victory with captain Shin Hashiba leading the way as he did with the ball. And with the score at 111-2 after 20 overs, that was very much where they seemed headed… Enter Dave Lollback, and in emphatic fashion, sending the off stump of Hashiba cartwheeling with his very first ball. Although Adore needed just 31 runs from 20 overs with 7 wickets in hand, as CT rightly pointed out, our own past performances proved that batting teams could lose from this position. After Dave completed his wicket maiden, the increasingly unhittable Molloy chimed in with one more wicket.
From there it was pure, classic Ginger Typhoon. Adore lost four wickets (all to Dave) for 1 run, leaving them suddenly at a precarious 128-8. The famous Lollback slower ball reared its head on at least three occasions (the team vets in the know oooo-ed and ahhhh-ed) and proved successful twice, notably coercing Takase into a textbook lofted forward defensive to a ready-and-waiting KB at mid-off.
Suddenly, all the pressure was on Adore (even with a required run rate of just 1). Fujii claimed the first of the two remaining wickets with a rank long hop (an established tradition among Sharks’ spinners), completing a simple caught-and-bowled. Two overs later he did the same, except this time off a waist-high no-ball, that was destined to be a free hit next ball. Fortunately, however, this had set Adore’s batsmen into a bit of a panic, and after taking the (inconsequential) catch next to the umpire and standing stunned for a couple of seconds, Fujii heeded the surrounding fielders’ frantic instructions to whip off the bails at the non-striker’s end.
This completed a stunning come-from-behind victory for Sharks 2nd XI, one which had looked utterly unlikely halfway through Adore’s innings. Dave provided the main heroics, finishing with incredible figures of 5-10 off 6 overs, with 3 maidens. And mention must be made of Chris Molloy, who after six months not bowling a ball, was ripping them off a superb length from the start to finish. However, it was also very much a team effort to regroup and fight our way back into this match. While there was no shortage of early-season rust on display, and 44 extras (35 wides, 9 no-balls) is something we will need to improve on, the character shown in this match should serve as a source of confidence for us going forward in the season.