Feb, 2009 – Sharks Blow Out in A Blaze of Gory And Lady Luck Leaves the Building

2008/9 Indoor Comp Finals

The Sharks finished second on the competition table despite losing only one game, but the ladies of Team Mach ended up on top due to their superior overall points and fashion sense. This probably placed us in a slightly more ‘difficult’ draw in the finals. The Sharks were a mixed bag of gnarly veterans, recent additions and indoor novices: Chris T, Graphic, Prashant, Mayank, Navin, Varun, Kris B, and a late inclusion, Shibum, (school mate of Navin’s) making up the squad for the evening. Up to this point, the Sharks had had somewhat of a charmed love affair with ‘Lady Luck’. Would the ‘Goddess of Good Fortune’ be at our side tonight?

Our first game was a six over affair of a different kind and Ms. Luck was somewhat aloof and ominously tapping away at her mobile phone…. (being an old fella, I could hear Gary Puckett and The Union Gap singing “Woman, Woman” somewhere in the distance).

Sharks VS Junichiro Koizumi

We were hungry for win here to move us up into the serious stuff. We had 72 balls to do some damage, but, sadly, much of it was self-inflicted. (Shark Factfile #2: A shark wounded in a feeding frenzy will continue to bite or eat anything, including its own intestines.) It was pretty obvious, pretty soon that this was not going to be our night. It is hard to say with clarity what went wrong, probably best to sum it up simply: we did not make many runs and lost of lot of very unnecessary wickets. Playing indoor cricket means getting to grips with a lot of things: the ball being ‘live’ all the time, the perils of backing up when batting, the foibles of the net when fielding, the best lines to bowl. We lost wickets to some basic misunderstandings of, ummm, the basics, but also suffered at the hands of, well, the hands of the fielders as they dragged in some tough catches and managed to stop certain 4s or even 6s. By midway we had a grand total of 6 runs. The last pair of Chris and Graphic managed to drag that up to 29 but it was going to be hard to defend that. Try as we might the score kept creeping up, and JK’s last batting pair included, gulp, a girl… who would get the X3 bonus. With three balls to go we were still a chance but it was not to be. The final score was Junichiro Koizumi 35 – Ichihara Sharks 29, and that was basically it for our run for the trophy. Obviously we were gutted, but we still had some games to play and gnashing of teeth and flapping of arms would not get us anywhere. And where was that Lady Luck?

Sharks VS Yellow Magic

Another 6-over fixture, this game saw us regroup somewhat for a win. We still made hard work of it, though. As for Lady Luck, she was in the corner doing her make-up, and although she was still speaking to us she there was coldness in her eyes (I could now hear the Righteous Brothers, “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling”). Bowling first we were able to keep a pretty tight line most of the time, but we just could not seem to pick up regular wickets, with catches juuuuust going a bit short or wide and shies at the stumps missing by a nano-micron of PVC. Very frustrating and there was much stamping of little fins. It was looking like we’d be in trouble again til Prashant as ‘keeper popped up with two great direct hits to the bowler’s end. This sparked us a bit and with a couple pieces of smart, experienced cricket we nailed some more YM wickets to leave them at 27. Should SHOULD have been easy – but it wasn’t. I would have to say that the batting was solid, generally, and we were definitely middling it with power. Problem was so many of the shots were either straight down the throats of fielders or cut off, and a bit of a dip in the back ceiling net saw a few certain 6s drop down into waiting hands (excuses moving into top gear, here). And we definitely have to cut out the habit of admiring hit 6s from half way down the pitch… In the end, though, it was Chris T and Graphic who, more calmly than usual, got us over the line for our first win of the evening. YM 27 – Sharks 36. This put us into the play-off for 5th Place. But we looked around, and Lady Luck was nowhere to be seen…

It was a bit a wait til out final game and, with Chris T and Graphic having to start their long trek back to Chiba, the captaincy was handed over to Kris B. Very honoured. Being now one short, spectator and part-time Navin publicist/photographer, schoolboy Shibum was informed of his surprise selection. And for future reference, fathers, if you want two 15-year old boys to go really, really quiet, just tell them they are opening the batting….

Sharks VS Papa Bush

When Lady Lucky did show up again, it was like, ya know, a scene from one of those suspense movies where they have the camera running on rails and they go from a distant shot to a really quick close up of the very shocked face of the good guy who realises he is in trouble and the room and reality sort of squashes in? Like that. Lady Luck was sitting in the corner with one arm draped over Papa Bush!! (And I could hear Kenny Rogers, singing, “You took a fine time to leave me, Lucille.”) Apart from our openers when batting the game was the embodiment of ‘Murphy’s Law’ – if anything could go wrong, it would go wrong. This time for 12 overs. We bowled without much luck (obviously, as the hag was too busy snuggling with to Papa Bush!) We also played in the ‘outer-side’ court so one side was netting and the other a solid wall of industrial urban art. But this is to take nothing away from the PB batsmen – they hit hard and straight and handled the wall plumbing fixtures better (and, anyway, we would also bat in the same court). We probably could have been a bit better on our fielding at the back, too. Everyone came in for a bit of stick with PB making a surprising 93 runs. With our ‘power brothers’ Chris and Graphic Chiba-bound, we had to shuffle the order a bit, with young guns Navin and Shibun opening. Well! You’d think they had done it all their lives! Pushed it around, ran sensibly, and racked up a neat 33 runs against PB’s best bowlers. They even wore pads! But then the fins started to loosen on the Sharks. Kris B and Mayank continued to play strong shots but they more often than not found fielders feet, arms, tummies etc., or the wrong side of the bonus net/air conditioner, assorted plumbing apparatus and a couple of wickets went down from outrageous direct hits. This left us at 45. But we had two big hitting Sharks in Varun and Prashant to come so anything could happen. It did, but not what we expected. To cut to the chase we ended up on 70, but although the guys added 25 they probably added and lost much more on a bizarre range of outs. It had to be seen to be believed – really! For example, Varun smacks one along the floor for 4 tight into the top corner where it then ricochets into the solid wall and directly back to the delighted bowler standing at the stumps – runout. Prashant absolutely belts it straight back at the bowler where it takes him in the balls and then onto the stumps – runout. And you would have thought the nets were like that bloody hedge maze in Harry Potter’s “The Goblet of Fire”! I swear the thing MOVED BY ITSELF to deposit certain 4s or 6s to PB players hands. If anything Lady Luck has a sense of humour, and in the end, that’s probably a good quality to have. Papa Bush 93 – Ichihara Sharks 70.

How many times have we heard it? “Cricket is a funny game.” Satirical farce? Black comedy? Fall down slapstick? Messy improvisation? Well, we had a bit of it all during the finals series. It was not all doom and gloom over the course of the winter, however, and we play the game not just to win but to enjoy ourselves, right (right!?). This reporter was fortunate enough to play in or see all of our games and here a quick view of what I think are some highlights. No-one could say we were dull.

There were the individual efforts:

– Prashant’s ballistic hitting in many games – including a string of three consecutive sixes in a row in Game 1

– Chris T and Graphic’s unforgettable demolition of YFK to win the game

– Navin’s growing confidence with the ball and bat (but learn how to ground your bat, mate!)

– some slick ‘keeping with a number of direct hits from various ‘keepers at the bowlers end

– some quite spectacular brain explosions when batting or backing up (perpetrators shall remain nameless)

And as a team:

– we had the best team batting average of 77 among teams without women players

– we gave up the fewest number of wickets (34)

– we had three thrilling one run victories and 7 wins out of 8 games

– we had the best uniforms

– and we had just a heap of fun and excitement!

The organisers have done a great job compiling stats over the course of the comp and here is another dazzling array http://www.indoorcricket.jp/WL09/wl09_stats.html.

Next year I suggest we give that fickle Lady Luck the flick and find a female player! Fin.

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