Jun, 2010 – Sharks Fall to Un-Generous Al-Karam

KCL – Chiba Sharks vs Al-Karam, 6/6/2010

The journey out to the steppes of Ageo is always one fraught with doubt and some consternation. Google Earth has the little beige patch of heaven on a Sunday marked alternatively as ‘formerly secret drug cartel runway’, The Mountains of The Moon, or ‘There Be Monsters’. NASA photos of Ageo regularly set off alienologist who claim there are faces on Mars… We now know it as ‘right-at-Jonathans-left-at-Toyota-bear-left-at-the-Y- go-staight-bearing-right-at-the-bus-deport-then-left-at-Tatsuyama-Alumi-across-the-tight-bridge-and-I-wouldn’t-try-that-hairpin-bend-driver-whoops’…. What did Pink Floyd sing: Careful with that Axle, Eugene… Ageo is an enigma (or an enema?): questions hang in the air, like a taxi on a hairpin, like eye-watering wafts of cow manure: Will we be able to find the ground again? Will the baseballers be finished on time? Will the police arrest their coach for verbal child abuse? Will we lose any balls? Will players actually find Ageo Station? Shark Fact File #52: Some sharks can smell blood molecules in water at 1:6,000,000 and at 25 kilometres, the equivalent to a golf ball in Loch Ness, but they can’t read maps. At least on June 6 the answers to these questions were, respectively, ‘Yes’, ‘Yes’, ‘Not yet’, ‘No’ and ‘Bloody eventually’…. The biggest question of would we win was largely academic, namely based on kinesics and mathematics. Some Al-Karam lads lived up to their name (karam means ‘generous’ in Arabic) by guiding our taxis to the ground – that was where their generosity ended.


With dad-in-waiting Pat as Captain his first action was to lose the toss, which meant we bowled. Pat opened at the river end and Alexis at the rusting scaffold end. In the absence of flying ‘keeper extraordinaire, Chris, Kris donned his fetching caterpillar green gloves and snazzy little pats. Al Karam’s intent for the day was evident second ball, which disappeared into the verdant bank at the straight hit. That patch of weeds would see a bit of action on the day. Anything pitched up was deemed whackable by Al-Karam batsmen who scored quickly and heavily on the tiny Ageo ground. That said, there were some near misses as Pat, Alexis, Dave and Varun all induced frustrating flashes that either missed by very little or went through vacant slips. Pat threw the bowlers around endeavouring to find a way through. We did have bursts of success and our little victories. Varun bowled exceptionally well considering he came on against set batsman, bowling a wonderful maiden in the midst of the carnage, and his very tight but wicket-less efforts were more a reflection of how well he bowled – they could not even get an edge. Also the debut of Sumon was a highlight (first game in seven years) and saw him pick up three wickets, including being on a hat-trick (us spinning hopefuls just moved another notch down the bowling order…). Pat also bowled with movement, intent, pace and fire, but not much luck. Levi came back with strongly to bag the last two wickets. Dave broke a big partnership and also had his moments, as did all the other bowlers. But we got smashed, mostly.

Bowling Figures

Overs-Wickets-Runs (how out)

Pat  5 -1 -36 (LBW)

Alexis 7-3-70 (bowled; caught Pat; bowled)

Levi 2.4-2-46 (bowled; bowled)

Varun 5-0-25

Dave 3-1-34 (bowled)

Sumon 5-3-47 (caught dave; caught Navin; caught Pat)

Nikhil 3-0-30

Gurjinder 2-0-30

But let’s look at positives. We had eight bowlers with five sharing wickets. We bowled out Al-Karam within the 35 overs. Three of their batsmen got away from us but we did okay with the rest. We held all our outfield catches. Kris didn’t break any fingers. Everyone did something good, be it fielding or bowling. We faced a mountain of runs to climb, though, so on to the batting.


mail1Being realists, we were aware that 321 was probably beyond us so the general consensus was just put our heads down, have some practice and some fun doing it. Kris swapped pads and gloves to open the batting with Nikhil and they did just that, soaking up some overs from the fiery Al-Karam opening bowlers. Their defence was rock solid, but Kris diced with death once too often on the cut shot to be the first to go. Nikhil soon followed out LBW. The re-jigged batting line up also saw some of our more senior bats drop down the order. Varun and new inclusion Sumon from Bangladesh came together for a nice little partnership, Sumon looking quite classy after such a long time away from the game. More wickets saw the in-form Pat come to the crease and after a circumspect, patient start he started to hit his straps and the ball with his usual power and polish. He was well-supported by Navin and Dave, but the accurate Al-Karam bowling was keeping them pinned to the crease. With Pat as the anchor and again top scoring with 58 not out, we were able to bat out our 35 overs, something we had great trouble with in 2009.

Batting Figures

Balls Faced-Runs-How Out

Kris 22-5-bowled playing on

Nikhil 29-7-LBW

Varun 11-10-caught @ cover

Sumon 11-9-caught @ mid on

Navin 22-4-bowled

Pat 63-58 n.o.

Dave 19-9-bowled

Anton 1-0-LBW

Gurjinder 4-5-bowled

Levi 8-6-caught @ over there

Alexis DNB

Extras 46

Total: 9-159

It was obviously disappointing to get beaten by such a big margin. No-one like a flailing … well… some might, but we don’t. If someone is in the mood to just belt everything, fairly safe in the knowledge that there are short boundaries ridden by nervous fielders, then you can’t do too much about it, legally. As always, however, we try to look for positives and a way forward. The figures tell us some things, but sometimes you just have to be there. Weather willing we face up again next week to a similarly formidable unit in Lalazar. Let’s see if we can improve in other areas.

Postscript: Purple Batsmen Eaters, Au Voir

A long-time piece of Sharks equipment has been laid to rest, fitting at Ageo, due to their unhealthy condition. We did not really have a chance to give the gloves a proper send off and we are unlikely to be out at Ageo again in 2010, so I’d like to say a few words here:

(Please gather closer to your computer terminals)

“Alas, poor Purple, I knew him well!” To say, “They had a good innings”, does not do justice and is demonstratively incorrect. The purple gloves served the Sharks well, though, over the years, possible decades judging by the state of ’em. But, let’s not remember their final moments – peeling, persishing and a dry-cleaners nightmare – but consider their greater highlights. The sound of wood on bat and leather in glove as an edge was caught behind, the joyous stumpings as bails were whipped off, the gloves, in their baboon-bum purple brilliance, raised to the sky in appeal for LBW, and the sweaty high-fives from hairy, but happy, fast-bowlers. In their final resting place at Ageo we will be always reminded of these heroic deeds. Farewell, purple ‘keeper gloves, phir milengay, ayubuwan gehilla ennam, oo-roo and あおばよう… To say “Goodbye” would demean you…. after all, there’s no such thing as a ‘good’ bye.

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