JCL Div. Rd. 11, Chiba Sharks vs Tokyo Wombats
SICG 1, Sept. 7, 2019 – By KB
Some cricket games make you want to crawl under the couch and stay there. Some you wish were never played. Some you wish could be played over and over and over. This Sharks vs Wombats was one of the latter. We were stiff to lose earlier in the season with our plucky B-Team. Today we had the A-Team, served with the knowledge that second spot on the ladder beckoned… and with a big dollop of redemption.
It was bloody hot, again, with a typhoon to the south pushing in but bringing a nice breeze at times. We had a hot team, too, but being nice was not on their minds:
(batting order) Dhugal, Neel, Clampa, ‘Kazu’, Marcus, Takady, Asala, Rui, Muneeb, Yugi and Mahesh.
Dhugal and Neel have developed a fine master-apprentice relationship at the top this year and it again gave us a good start. Neel was solid in defense and very strong off his legs pads but left to nick down leg for 19. His one boundary was a classic hook. Sharks 1-67.
Doogs battled jet-lag and the heat, and a bit of history as he had not been as prolific against the Wombats as he would like. That changed as he laced fours through the on-side, peppered the boundaries behind square and drove with authority. A ball in the jewels was followed by a short ball that disappeared to deep fine leg like a missile. Clampa introduced himself to the Wombats with some careful defense before smashing one straight past the bowler.
With a generous donation of extras the run-rate went up. Settled, Clampa changed gear and launched two 4s to cow corner but was undone chasing a wide. 2-129.
‘Kazu’ Ueda entered and seemed intent on creating gaps through a fielder or two, but his ‘lives’ and hard hitting paid off. He loves a pull through mid-wicket but he unboxed a couple of beautiful cover drives to the rope and the delight of the Shark shed. By now Doogs was wilting somewhat… the Czech beers, no sleep for days and heat catching up. His demise on 73 was unfortunate but it did leave us with the delightful scoreline of Bedingfield c. Bracefield b. Swaffield! 3-153, but if Wombats were congratulating themselves on the Captain’s lyrical removal they probably soon wished they could recall him!
So far we have had Big Tick No. 2 – partnerships of 67, 62, 24 but we were not done yet. Several missed catches helped but the young guns got creative with some ‘Millennial paddle’ boundaries and the like. They ran extremely well, heaping pressure on an already tired field. Kazu and Marcus added 39 in quick time. Marcus (4-192) made way from Takady, his arrival timed nicely with the Wombats being almost out of petrol.
Doogs mused that one of Kazu or Takady looked likely to explode that tank – it was Takady as Kazu’s luck ran out (5-216). Takady took little time messing around, he was very solid in defense but creamed a selection of his favourite cover drives. Two massive consecutive 6s disappeared into the practice wicket areas. The Pocket Rocket had lifted off! He belted anything short, but probably his, and the shot of the day (and the Dr. Wheatgrass ‘Play of the Day’), was his effortless square drive for 4 off an off-stump yorker.
Meanwhile at the other end… Doogs had given Asala, quote “a license to hit”, and you don’t have to tell him twice against the Wombats… While Takady muscled, Asala, equally devastating, used his big levers to the same effect. He lifted balls to all compass points and was disappointed to be caught on the boundary for a rapid 21. They spanked out 37 in quick time until Takady’s rollick (53 in 28) ended 6-263. Asala and Rui took us through to 273, and Rui somewhat fittingly ended the innings in exactly the same way as Muneeb in May, with a reverse flicky-over the shoulder-thangy for 4. 106 taken off the last 10 overs. Sharks a formidable 6-277. Very nice read that scorecard!
It was a joy to see the Sharks team take the field. As hot as it was and with a mountain of runs the team was still as energized and ready as I have seen them in a long while.
Wombats needed almost 7 an over. Patmore stayed in the shed. Rui and Muneeb opened. Openers Mee and Bracewell swung hard, often and successfully until Jimmy and Disco shortened their lengths. The result? Two identical skied catches and Takady made them look easy. He set a standard and the field kept up. 2-30. Patmore’s arrival heralded Yugi’s (and I believe the author’s grin from the boundary may have been audible.) Patmore watched as the bowling attack went to work. Rui uprooted Eyes. 3-34. Yugi just was Yugi – enough said. He warmed up on the next Wombat and Muneed took another skier. 4-35. A few boundaries stalled our progress through their line up until Yugi got the prize wicket of Patmore and a lot of justice to boot. He turn one across Patmore and Dhugal accepted the offer at first slip. No doubt there. 5-50.
The Wombat back was already broken and now it was just a matter of who and when. Neel got into the act with a fine line and length. Kazu took an equally fine low, tumbling catch and mid-on. 6-55. Yugi nailed his third wicket with a very sharp return catch at his bootlaces! He finished with 8-3-15-3 (his previous outing against the Wombats was 8-0-23-3*). 7-56.
With three wickets to go it was left to Mahesh and Clampa to set us on an early trip home. The Wombat tail had other ideas. But Mahesh grabbed his customary two wickets, Clampa at long on taking a very difficult highball backpedalling and off-balance, and Muneeb reprising his effort in the deep. Behind the stumps, Marcus had been almost anonymous, but super-efficient. The field had taken all eight catches that came their way, but he finally got his name in the book with a smart and poignantly ‘tight’ stumping of the No. 11 off Clampa to both end the innings. All six bowlers (and bats) got a piece of Wombat.
Though our Captain is rarely satisfied (but he was pretty happy in his Doogsian way) and we can always improve (and must for finals), it was one of the most ‘complete’ performances of the year in every facet of the game. Good partnerships, all outgoing batsmen got into double figures, we ran well and pushed when necessary. Our bowling attack was methodical, on target and worked together.
Our fielding was exemplary. Given the Wombats diminished power we perhaps should expect this; nonetheless we got the emphatic win with a bonus point. It was but a warm-up, though, to the (unfinished) business-end of the season. We finished second on the Div. 1 ladder to MAX (who lost to Wyverns for a second time on the adjacent field). We now face Tigers in the semi-final on Sept 14. A big thank you to the Tigers umpires. Good job gents.