JCL Grand Final, Sano 3, 30 October 2011
By Kris Bayne
On a 1-10 scale of team satisfaction, this game was about a 3. We entered it having gained a GF berth on a whim and a prayer and a dollop of luck. We were fortunate to be there – honestly. We exited it beaten and chastised by a far better and committed team in Sano CC. In many ways it probably crystallized the season: good performances by a couple, but a lot of passengers.
The venue was Sano 3, recently installed but freshly defiled by trail bikes. The damage to the pitch was not as grievous as we believed but the field from above probably looked like the Nazca Plains of Peru, but more grass. It was pleasant enough and after parking the vehicles in tasteful fashion we were greeted early on with warm weather for our spirited and enthusiastic warm-up. It quite quickly turned chilly… both atmospheric and metaphoric.
Pat defied expectation, winning the toss and choosing to bat. The top six looked good on paper, with solid technicians and classy stroke-makers among them. Some of them certainly had good reason to make runs as 2011 had so far been a lean season. The bottom five could also contribute on their day. It wasn’t today for either end of the line-up.
Dave opened with Keiichi and the two took some overs to have a good look at the bowling. It was hard going as, bar one errant over of wides, the Sano crew settled into a disturbing line. Runs were sparse. After 4 overs we had 11, mainly due to wides, but even that avenue to scoring dried up. After one nice lofted boundary Keiichi was the first to depart, the first of Sano ‘keeper’s four victims. 1-22 and sadly that was the equal top partnership for us. A succession of bowlers put the clamps on with good line and length, a trio of veterans, former Giant Mumtaz Alam, Alex Miyaji and Rizwan being the pick, but all bowlers of multiple overs took wickets. While Dave was his ever-watchful self a succession of batsman fell. Sumon (2) LBW, Prashant (0) then Pat (8) caught behind.
When Vicky joined Dave (then 26 n.o.) at 4-56 in the 15th over we were staring down a very large barrel. Vicky reined in his normal habit of immediate boundary violence but still found the rope with a sweetly timed punch to the long on and later a lovely lift over the same. Dave too had started to find the gaps and the two put on 22 before the crafty Kanno picked up Vicky (14) as the first of four wickets, giving the ‘keeper a bit of a regrettable gift (5-78). Chris (1) looked solid in defence til one inexplicably trickled back onto the stumps. Sagar, after a mad mow first up, knuckled down to support Dave but eventually was bowled around his legs. Sayeed gone to 2 in two… Dave meanwhile, solid and stoic, kept working the gaps and doing what a batsman should against a Sano team that was giving nothing away without bloody hard work.
Charles (5), after many attempts, finally connected for one boundary before being caught, but when Anton sauntered out we were 9-107 and the main interest was whether Dave could reach fifty. Having survived two of Kanno’s finest, the No. 11’s arrival was greeted by the return of the miserly accurate Rizwan. Dave on strike and 49 n.o. waded into his first ball. It climbed and steepled out toward the waiting and horridly experienced hands of Naeem. He settled under it and with two hands grassed the bugger. Lollback an absolutely deserved half-century. Anton’s Gibraltar-like defence lasted four balls before a flush on the toe in-swinger did for him, LBW 0. Chiba Sharks all out 108 in 35.
It was not an innings to write home about, and in fact, I am only writing this because I have to. We must take nothing away from Sano. Of their 15 wides, 8 came in the first two overs. They bowled well to a man, held their catches (except for one, thank goodness) and they pounced on almost everything in the field. There were no weak links to exploit. As for us, it was another very ordinary batting performance under pressure. Obviously the ONLY light was Dave Lollback, capping off a very good season with the bat. His 50 n.o. in 99 balls with four boundaries attests to his concentration and with a bit more support we would have fared much better.
|D. Lollback||not out||…||50||99||3||1|
|K. Warabi||c. Nomura||b. Rizwan||7||17||1||0|
|S. Haque||lbw||b. Mee||2||9||0||0|
|P. Kale||c. Nomura||b. Alam||0||4||0||0|
|P. Giles-Jones||c. Nomura||b. Alam||8||14||1||0|
|V. Sancheti||c. Nomura||b. Kanoh||14||21||1||1|
|C. Thurgate||…||b. Kanoh||1||9||0||0|
|S. Waghunde||…||b. Miyaji||1||17||0||0|
|U. Sayeed||c. Alam||b. Kanoh||2||4||0||0|
|C. Steinhardt||c. Seiji||b. Kanoh||5||11||1||0|
|A. Lloyd-Williams||lbw||b. Rizwan||0||7||0||0|
|Extras||…||nb1 w15 b0 lb1||…|
|Total||108||All out||…||…||Overs 35|
STILL, we had three figures and we had a strong bowling line-up. As Pat said in his opening address to us, “Anything can happen in a final”.
Vicky and Pat opened with twin maidens of brutality – they gave the openers a torrid time and us a lot of hope. By the end of the 6th over there were only 14 on the board (only 6 off the bat) and one chance behind the wicket had gone down. But we could ill-afford easing up with such a small total. The openers, however, had heaps of time and new pair Sagar and Dave tried in vain to remove them. Boundaries started to come and again we did ourselves no favours, coughing up extras. Some particularly disastrous wides continued to the short boundaries, alleviating the batsmen of the responsibility to play shots. In all we gave up a typical gift of 24 extras in 21 overs…
Our first breakthrough came in the 15th over at 50 from a nice piece of work from Keiichi. Chasing down a ball cut behind point, he rocketed it back to Chris who removed the bails catching the batsman short on the second run. New batsman, Fuji, stepped up quickly and with the experienced Miyaji they proceeded toward the total with some ease. Vicky was reintroduced and immediately removed the Sano captain with Chris taking a good catch that was still rising. Nagano-based Sano player, Mee, experienced a few shaky moments, but a flurry of scoring shots from both batsmen was compounded by some obligatory dropped catches in the outfield. One off Vicky first ball of his last over so incensed him that if the batsman said he saw the next few balls at all then he is lying. Fastest cricket ball he has never seen. On 2-100 Pat’s took up the ball for what was to be the final over, and throwing caution to the wind and wood at ball, his fifth ball was dispatched over long on. Sano 2-112 off 21 overs.
We were thoroughly out-played in all departments. Sano bowled cannily, carefully and consistently. They fielded well and batted sensibly despite our bowling. We, on the other hand, did not respond in kind. Congratulations to Sano, they are deserving JCL Champions in 2011.
In his poignant World War One sonnet, ‘Dreamers’, Siegfried Sassoon’s sees the tragic, mud-entrench and ultimately doomed British youth:
“Dreaming of things they did with balls and bats,
Mocked by hopeless longing to regain,
Bank-holidays, and picture shows, and spats,
And going to the office in a train.”
Chiba Sharks might also have dreamed of heroic feats with leather and willow in the lead up to the 2011 JCL final. Considering our eventual effort, most of us would long to have our time again as we were, to be honest, at times, well, ‘hopeless’ is harsh, but bereft of hope from early on is very apt. Certainly we probably had time to reflect on our way to the office by train on Monday. Unlike Sassoon’s doomed youth, we will live to fight another day, for redemption in 2012.
Sadly, it will be without our captain, Pat Giles-Jones, who announced at the start of the game that this would be his last as a Shark. He will returning to Australia. While Pat only wore the Shark colours for three seasons, his passion, dedication and professionalism was a great example and we will, of course, miss him. It’s too bad we could not send him off with a win.
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