East Kanto Japan Cup 2019 Vs Tokyo Titans
Sammu, 3 August – By Kris Bayne
Our Japan Cup team faced a do-or-die day in the oppressive heat at Sanbu no Mori. We took on last-placed and winless Tokyo Titans. It had been a very ordinary 2019 campaign for us – one tie, one wet draw, two losses (one also wet), one solitary win – but suddenly we were playing and hoping for a Semi Finals spot. Nippon Tigers took care of the ‘hoping’ part by defeating Rising Stars in the morning game, but not by enough to push their run-rate above us. Win and we would jump two spots into fourth.
Easier said than done. It was a brutal day. The field was rock-hard. A wrong call and we could be on the wrong road. Like Prince Hamlet, alone and deep with his thoughts, Captain Marcus had to decide: ‘Bat or to bowl: that is the question…’
That question was solved when we lost the toss and Titans invited us to bowl. Other questions were; how would the My-Ys back up after playing all week in Fuji? Would we actually melt before the game started? Would KB shut up about drinking in small sips? Would soap be required for certain commentators? How did we get five players, five kitbags and an Esky in Tel’s little car?
Rui opened. The Titan opener managed to avoid confronting the first two lightning bolts but the third nailed him dead in front mid-stride in his evacuation of the crease to point. Nice start. The new pair, anchored by the big-walloping Gaur, in his first appearance for the Titans, then took a procession of bowlers to the ever-shrinking boundaries of Sammu.
Opening with Rui, Asala had his little victories between the broad blurring bat faces. Yugi uncharacteristically suffered some boundaries. An energized and accurate Leon beat the bat but edges flew. And bowling-wildcard, Koji, fought back after some punishment in his one over. But the account was 1-66 at 10-over drinks. Break needed.
KB bounded out his seven steps of doom for the 12th over. Batsman immediately on his way, toe-ending one to Ash at short mid-on 2-74. Thus directed, Leon mowed a snaring, twisting, swinging hole right through the newbie’s defense to peg back middle 3-81. KB and the set Gaur locked horns across ten balls. One with a little more air was offered, accepted and Rui moved not a muscle at deep, deep long on to take the catch (which Guar graciously acknowledge in a brief, knowing handshake at the bowler’s end) 4-89.
5-92 and 6-104 at Over 17 after Yugi got his teeth into the now nervous batsmen and shook them like a terrier with a bowled and LBW. We had hit back hard over six overs. But balls had been popping and landing just out of desperate, pleading hands’ reach since drinks, and despite the bats swinging like the ‘60s at times, Rui and Asala could not finish them off. Tokyo Titans ended on 7-120.
We just had to get the win it to almost ‘heist’ an unlikely semi final spot. But to be sure we perhaps needed it to be more emphatic than just ‘just’. Maybe like Hamlet we over-thought things…
Bats 1, 2, 3 and 4 were back under the trees with only 32 taken off the chase. Mainly to the credit of Gaur (where had he been all of TT’s season?), but also to a hell-for-leather-ball charge by our bats. Asala watched two wides whip by followed by two bails. Rui added some cheer with a string of powerful and classy boundaries on the off side. Takady copped one fair in the nuts and, clearly distressed, immediately chipped behind after he recovered, and waddled off, carefully. Marcus survived a first-ball drop but did not capitalize. When Rui (17) tickled one behind we were in hot water by Over 6.
Deba and Ash decided discretion was a better option than destruction and found gaps and ran as only two 15 years old can run! They added 18 until Ash (9), soon after crashing a 4 through covers, succumbed. Deba and Terry were confronted with a rising run-rate. Terry was his usually stoic self. Deba, looking unbelievably cool and unflustered, took the bit between his teeth and uncorked two beautiful lofted off-drives for 4. In between the pair added singles. They added 20 until Deba was undone and Terry follow shortly after. 7-80 in the 17th and we were basically cooked. Yugi clattered one to the rope and Leon refused to give up, nevertheless we ended up with a very disappointing 8-90 with Koji at the crease.
Given our time again, other approaches and applications of the batting kind might have changed the result. Live and learn. Titans had not won a game, but Gaur took home 57 runs and 4-11 for his only game of the season to date. Our last two outings in the Japan Cup were remarkably forgettable: against Nippon Tigers we had to jump puddles in a game that should not have been; yesterday we counted our chickens but we were the ones that got roasted.
So that is goodbye to the Japan Cup for Chiba Sharks in 2019.
Thanks to Sunny for being 12th and taking the times to learn how to score. Congratulations to the Titans for breaking their JCA duck and big thanks to the Nippon Tigers umpires who endured 60 overs standing in the heat!!