Sep, 2009 – Wyverns Show Sharks the Door

By Alexis Coovre

JCL semi-final – Sharks Vs Wyverns, 05/09/09

Wyverns ended the Sharks’ finals campaign, clinically disposing of them by six wickets.

Saturday morning dawned bright and fair and the Sharks’ chariot charged down Old Edo Highway to do battle with the forces of strife, under the most sacred of mountains.

Some regulars away, others back from abroad – one back from the dead, the still deadly Sharks made camp in the now glimmering morning light, shoulders held high, and a fire in their hearts. A flamboyant twelfth man raised the spirit level to eleven; today was going to be the day…

With shorter days now upon us, the coin was soon tossed, and Captain Creece (filling in for Thurgate) ordered his troops in to bat.

Lollback and Creece donned their armour and sauntered out to the execution block, under a sea of cerulean, ready to show the Wyverns that that 70-odd from weeks prior, was indeed a one-off.

Gliding in and letting it rip at the last minute, Norman quickly found his target; the experienced Sharks’ openers, mindful of this, were happy to shoulder arms.

Nakano found the spot as well, and the stone wall began to grow and grow. But walls are made to be smashed, and in the fourth over, just when the runs were becoming freer, Lollback nicked a perfect length Nakano delivery through to the keeper.

Giles-Jones fronted up, and was happy to have a look, whilst Creece began expressing himself with his blade. But tight lines yield wickets, and Norman, on to a good thing, found the edge of GJ’s bat, the score 2/25.

Kale, determined to turn his form around, joined his equally attacking cohort, who was playing as though it were an extension of the Sano match. The two combatants cut imposing figures, as they set about making Manhattan. Creece smote the bad balls to the fence; Kale treated Fujita with disdain, brandishing him over the long-on rope on several occasions.

The tight balls were never far away, however, and Creece (29), in all-out attack mode, ballooned one off the edge, to a waiting fielder, off Fujita; a sign of things to come.

Kale (30) made Fujita pay for the loss of his partner, crashing him over the rope, one last time, but the cunning Japanese bowler stuck to his guns, and two balls later found a leading edge off Kale’s bat, giving Nakano an easy catch.

The Wyverns were buzzing, ecstatic at keeping the lid on the explosive top four. Again the middle order began to fracture from the insides. The next ten overs would see six wickets fall, and fewer than 14 runs yielded; the once proud Sharks’ skyline reduced to dust.

A veritable catwalk, in and out the Sharks came, showing off the latest in cricket mishaps. Vicky caught and bowled; Himi a leading edge; Adams cleaned up; Nikhil plumb in front; Navin an edging lead; Walters cleaned out; Coovre turning off the lights on the way out – the Sharks all out, a paltry 87.

Reaching for their tucker-bags for some much needed sustenance, the Sharks meditatively chewed back and forth, eyes fixed on the great mountain for inspiration. The mirth that lies deep in the heart of every Shark permeated their mindset: You’ve done it once you can do it again…

An arsenal of bowlers at his disposal, Creece made a circle and reminded the school of Sharks that they still had a job to do, and that 87 was defendable.

Diminutive, calculating, Chino strode out to the crease, flanked by his right-hand man, Nakamura. A finals’ spot up for grabs, only 87 to get, the national Captain was going to do it his way.

A Wyvern only a year previously, GJ raced in, bowling it in the Bermuda triangle, fuelled with inside knowledge of his ‘new’ rival. Five dot balls… Bam! Chino was away with two runs.

In came Coovre from the river end, his short balls outside off stump giving more runs to Chino, who was watching, waiting for the loose one. Pat then bowled a maiden, and Coovre began to settle down, the jousting continued. Meanwhile Nakamura was still to get off the mark, adjusting to the opener’s role, after the late season departure of Mason.

But no wickets came, and bowling changes were made: the tweak of Adams and the heavy balls of Lollback. Nakamura got off the mark with a four, and the scoreboard continued to tick along. The bowlers, however, managed to keep the run rate at slightly fewer than three an over, helped along by the omnipresent Sharks fielders.

A single black cloud floated in from Mt Nokogiri, bringing with it close calls here, angry words there – indignation was rife. Opinions were expressed, and the umpire alone in the darkness, remained steadfast, ignoring the Sharkiage. The dark demon then blew out to sea, and the Fuji chi was restored.

Bringing up their 50, in the 15th over, the Wyverns encountered some turbulence in the introduction of Vicky. Loose limbed, caffeine-like, he jolted the openers with fresh pace and unerring accuracy, and before too long made a mess of Nakamura’s (15) pegs.

The jolly Sano (9*), promoted to number three, came in and joined his captain, who presently had 30-odd. Meanwhile Vicky (2-10) continued to steam in. Zlonk! The obdurate captain (31) was bowled, chopping it onto the stumps trying to work it down to fine leg.

Only 27 more to get for the Wyverns; Hanada came to the strip, and the ‘talkative’ Sharks reminded the new pair that 27 is ‘a lot of runs’. The next few overs saw the momentum swing back in the favour of the Sharks, as Vicky, Prashant and Walters pushed the Wyverns into a corner.

Two runs later, a redemptive direct hit by Himi, saw Hanada run-out for one, and with only one more recognised batsman to come in, the Sharks began to taste it. The last batsman, however, was Norman the Conqueror – and he didn’t disappoint. Blasting his way to a quickfire 13, including a towering six, he killed any hope that was kindled.

Only two more runs to get, Nikhil’s wish was granted, and was given the ball, for what was likely to be the last over. After a loosener first up, to bring the scores level, Norman (13) made a mad swipe at a Nikhil (1-3) lobber, sending it high into the air, giving Coovre a catch, at mid-on.

Splatt! Another wide down leg-side…victory for the Wyverns, the end of the journey for the Sharks…

In crisscross formation, the Sharks and Wyverns gracefully shook hands, the former, silently admitting that they had been outwitted, outplayed and outsourced…

fuji sunset

The Akaishi Mountains shone a brilliant orange as twelve Sharks packed up their gear, put away their rubbish, and walked the long road to the drop zone. David made the whistle, and the motorised steeds pulled up alongside the river bank, doors opening obediently. Some said their farewells, for now and perhaps forever, as they boarded their personal shuttles. The engines revved, there was a puff of dust, and everything was silent…

The Sharks enjoy a rest before playing the YC&AC in a friendly (20 Sept) and the Giants in the Japan Cup, in mid-October. What is sure to be a new look side, the Sharks will seek to finish the 2009 season on a high.

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