JC2 –Chiba Sharks vs Wyverns
Sano 2, Aug 5th, 2017 – By Kris Bayne
Dr. Wheatgrass Highlight of the Day! Of many memorable contenders, the Doctor’s HOTD! that brought the Shark tent to its collective feet must be Ashley Thurgate’s high, hard and handsome, welcome-to-the-big-time hooked 6 over square leg off Yoshi.
Now to the game!
It was astounding!
It seems that time is fleeting.
In the Sano heat, madness can take its toll…
But you’ve got to keep control.
I remember it like a Time Warp.
Big ‘lift’ from the “Rocky Horror Show” there, and it could be said that title perfectly describes the Sharks’ July. Rocky? Yes, as we sometimes struggled to complete teams and duties in an extremely busy July schedule. And horror, yes – we won nothing. Zip (bar respect for our umpiring). Show? Well, we didn’t. So it was up to the Shark 2nds to go against the flow and win back positive momentum. And what a way to do it!
We had an interesting mix today. A tres of Ch/Kris in Thurgate, Bayne and Molloy. End of JC duties saw all of Bangla Bros Sayeed, Murad and Sumon back in, also with Limo over his shoulder issue. Koji came in and with Terry a late emergency withdrawal, Ashley Thurgate (all of 13 and ‘fresh’ off five mid-week MyYs games) fronted up. Some of the usual suspects in there for the Twos, but some in-form young guns, Neel and Kavin, were missing due to their same-round 1st XI appearance. This allowed (required, in fact, because we do not stack teams) the potent double-V of Viv and Vicky to play. While both all-rounders are under injury clouds they were a fine addition.
The Wyverns team was like role-call from some dimly-memorable Shark nightmare… The old-time Sharks just shook their heads and smiled at the ‘Wild Thing’ K. Ogawa (while his express pace is a thing of the past he did score 200 against the 2s), Junya Hanada, arguably the best batsman-bowler Japan has produced, Ema Kuribayashi, all-rounder and pound-for-pound still Japan’s finest women’s cricketer, and fresh from his MBA, the man they call Chino. Superb ‘keeper (probably still the best) and a freakin’ batting barnacle. For the old-timers, an enduring memory of Chino was his 130 n.o. as an opener in heat extreme even for TTB at Sano 2, from which he was then removed hence by ambulance, which goes to show…
Not drinking leads to moments when
The blackness would hit you.
And the void would be calling.
But let’s do the Time Warp again.
Well, no, we did not want any time warping from any of those players.
Our umpires were Paddy Foley’s, which in itself is another lengthy and hair-raising report (classified). Suffice to say, CT won the toss against Yoshi, which to the utter bewilderment of Wyverns, set off massive cheering from the Sharks. CT informed us he did indeed call the toss win and we were batting.
It was a given that our most successful top-order partners this year, Murad and Sumon, walked out into the rising humidity. This was not going to be a walk in the park, however. While not of any frightening speed, Hanada, Ogawa, and Kuribayashi are all experienced, canny bowlers and Kudo is in devastating career-best form. Sumon found this out when he tickled Hanada to Chino chasing a slower short ball. 1-5 and Sayeed joined Murad, who looked in good form having drilled a 4 already through point. It was cautious going against Kudo and Hanada, and the long grass was making 2s out of what might have been 4s. Sayeed launched Hanada back over long off for a massive 6 but was then on his way. 2-22 off 6. A bowling change saw Ogawa and young spinner, Goka, into the fray. In at No. 4, Limo’s form has been a shadow of 2016 but he got off the mark immediately with singles off his first three balls, only for Ogawa-Chino to account for him. 3-31 off 8.
At No. 5 Viv and his dodgy hammie winced their way to the middle. He swatted away the last three persistent balls of the Ogawa wicket-maiden. He then unleashed several shades of hell on the bowlers, Goka, in particular, and the on-side arch forward of square. Murad, meanwhile was adding a nice collection of 2s and dots and was content to watch the midday fireworks. Goka had trouble landing the ball on the pitch. Viv had no trouble landing said-ball in the foliage going 6, 6, 4, 1. He took another 6 off Ogawa who then started to revert to wildness. Both were removed for Kuribayashi and Hanada. Now 3-63 of 10.
Murad’s introduced his bat handle to his rump as a nice resting post. Viv introduced himself to Ema with a 4 and 6. Then a maiden. Another 4 and it was the returning Hanada’s turn to see the ball sail beyond the rope. For the last over before drinks, Murad, the scorers’ tent and even more so Wyverns had to endure the most bizarre bowling decision of the day. Novice cricketer Nishino is far better suited to wood than leather. He sent down a mind-numbing 21-ball over. Miraculously it ‘only’ cost 18 runs with three singles scored. Nevertheless, we came into drinks at a comfy 3-105.
Now quite possibly Nishino’s over played a role in breaking the concentration (or will to live?) of both Murad and Viv as they departed in the next few overs after the break. Goodness knows the scorers will never be the same and complexion of the innings changed dramatically. Immediately Murad hit out at Kudo only to find the safest hands on the field, Ogawa’s. A great 75-run partnership was ended. Molloy joined Viv. Next over again Kudo sneaked one through the whirl Singhing bat, Viv bowled for a 32-ball 48. Two wicket maidens by Kudo were only interrupted by rotating Sharks and another maiden by Hanada! 5-106 and Koji came in with the rotisserie temperature on high.
Here came either the second most bizarre bowling decision of the day, or it may have part two of some brutal psychological warfare – Yoshi Uehara threw the ball to himself. That Wyverns bowling depth was not up to the potential of its batting today was evident. Yoshi owns the 3rd Edition (Penguin) of the same ‘How to Bake and Bowl Pies’ book as Anton (1st Edition, hardback). In the arc-of-the-ball stakes, think of Brett Lee at one end and Yoshi at the other – Anton is in the middle. Same could be said for speed. Ogawa came back at the other end. Up to now Koji had played straight and turned one neatly to backward square for his single, but an Ogawa yorker did him no favours. 6-114.
With Koji gone and the double strike of Murad and Viv still hurting, the game was definitely in Wyverns’ favour. It was a very interesting watershed. With devastating maidens and wanton wickets, we probably had the best batsman for the occasion at one end in Chris Molloy, a bloke with huge amounts of patience and a straight bat. With the erstwhile JCA groundsman, Yoshi, being on we probably had either best or the worst batsman in Varun ‘Voom Voom’ Sancheti at the other end.
Guaranteed one of Vicky or Yoshi was going to be disappointed. Let the record show it was Varun. A Sancheti innings of 22 balls would suggest a decent outing of at least 20-odd. Not today. Eight frustrated singles and a two and veteran readers should know where the final ball went – up and over and into Ogawa’s waiting hands on the long-on boundary. Ouch, out and 7-135 .
Ashley Thurgate, 2nd in line to the Thurgate throne (which Snr probably longed for right about now), joined Chris Molloy. We needed more runs, it was clear. Chris M was finding it hard to get more than ones. Ash, after a look, clearly did not. He laced his first boundary back up the field. A no-ball from Yoshi was dispatched to the rope and for the pièce de résistance, Ashley provided the Dr. Wheatgrass Highlight of the Day. Beautifully timed and executed. He came off second best in his duel with fellow rising junior, Goka, however, but he and Chris Molloy had pushed us up to 161. The returning Kudo accounted for Thurgate the Elder second ball. KB and Chris Molloy added a few before the latter’s long innings ended. Sharks all-out 165 in the 35th over.
It seemed light on considering the opposition but we were fairly bursting with all kinds of bowlers so we should we able to defend it.
While we get a look at the past, we also got a glimpse of the future with Ashley opening. And it was an exciting vista. Ash had good pace and movement and found his line well. At the other end, Viv went one better when his first ball took Matsuchika’s edge and Limo took the catch at 1st slip. Wicket maiden and 1-5. Not to be outdone, Ashley then immediately sent the ball off to Limo in the same manner and Ogawa was on his way!!! 2-5. Great balls and sticky hands coming together! But this paired Chino with Ema and we knew our work had just started. Viv, even on one leg, was his usual unhittable self, but it was Ashley who stuck again on his first ball of his next over, locking Ema on her crease and curling one through her defense to castle her. 3-13! Two key bats back in the tent and Chino and Yoshi were given little leeway for the rest of the openers spell. First change after ten overs saw Wyverns 3-42, with much of it self-inflicted.
KB and Koji were the next to take up the leather. It was a nervous time for all. We could not let these two bats get away. Chino could stay there forever and ever, and Yoshi was a powerful hitter who would like to make a point against these bowlers. Koji was still unsure of his craft despite his growth in Australia and the captain’s confidence. KB had seemingly lost his in his last two fruitless outings. Both sent down steady first overs to the batsmen. Then in some kind of karmic in-joke befitting this retro-match, Yoshi took guard to KB…
There was just a jump to the left
And a step to the right
With a twist of the hips.
Then bring the knees in tight.
Then with the pelvic thrust.
That’s a wicket, bowled Bayne.
Let’s do the Time Warp again.
Yoshi was mortified. KB was electrified. 4-53, but we soon realised why Nishino was in the team, and it wasn’t for his bowling or good looks!
As a former base-baller, the usual ‘corridor of uncertainty’ was his ‘preferred hitting zone’ and that is what he did. Big of muscle, fast of hand and keen of eye. He hit hard. Almost anything on or outside off was flat-batted through long on, or nicked through the empty slips. Koji and KB were bowling well and Chino was held well in check by both. Nishino was dropped twice and the ball frustratingly dropped frequently into empty space. The runs tickled over. We had to revise the areas in which to bowl to him. KB’s change to around the wicket and into his pads did the trick. Viv held a good low catch on the deep square boundary to make it 5-87. But Chino was still there and we had yet to see Junmei Hanada.
Vicky and Chris Molloy were next change. They immediately put the clamps on scoring. Molloy is in ripping form and Vicky was just working the ball around with change-ups. In fact, he didn’t even need to bowl to get wickets. Chino continued to roll out long strings of dots. New bat, Shiratori, pushed and called through for a tough single off Molloy. Vicky gathered around square and sent the ball hurtling directly through the stumps 30 metres away to remove Shiratori at the bowler’s end! The umpire would have had not one clue as he fled from the stumps, but we did, and with an uncharacteristically but necessarily stretched out (but correct) appeal, he was finally convinced of our sincerity. 6-91. With seventy-odd to get Hanada finally appeared.
There were oodles of overs left. We were just halfway. They had the temperament. They probably had the confidence. They had the skill-set. We had Vicky and Molloy. They kept Chino in his box and it took Hanada ages to score. Someone had to crack and it was the batsmen. Vicky finally got a slower ball where he wanted it and Hanada cracked it hard but in the air toward point. There waited Ashley who moved fast and low to his right to take a fantastic catch! From there it was procession, with Chris Molloy as chief ball twirler.
He completely bamboozled Sasaki who politely returned the ball for a C&B. A couple of balls later he finally removed Chino, with Ashley yet again being on the end of a catch. Double wicket maiden! Ashley was rewarded with one more over, but Chris finished the job, bowling Goka in the 28th over.
It was a total team effort. Of course we benefitted from having Viv and Vicky in (but I think it just evened up the talent balance sheet), but a look through the batting, bowling and fielding showed 2nds regulars held up their end. Good solid and vital knocks from Murad and Chris Molloy. Nice cameo from Ashley.
All the bowlers did their part to take key wickets and keep the batters honest. The field supported the bowlers with efficient ground fielding (Limo has better wheels than KB) and sharp catching. We were led magnificently by CT, who was battling both fatigue and the potential flood waters of Fuji. Great game played in fine spirit on and off the field. It is so much a part of the spirit of cricket that old rivals greet each other as friends and young rivalries enter a new arena.
Our last game is August 26 against Adore. We are a very good chance of making finals but I will leave you to consider all the possibilities since:
Tigers play Wyverns
Alpha play Sano
The bottom line is we need to beat Adore and beat them well. We love to play them but we want to smash them. To do that we need to as many players as possible available on August 26. Semi finals are Sept 10. Same deal.
Shake ‘em up and take ‘em by surprise!
Let’s do the Time Warp again!