Dec, 2011 – Sharks Keep Their Heads But Lose Their Wickets

Winter League, Sharks vs Sano CC, 01.12.11
By Chris Thurgate

December 1 2011, Chiba is freezing cold, typically gray and miserable. It was also the day the first Winter League team was announced..A warm beacon of light and a journey to the Hot Spot of Kashiwa awaited six of Chiba Shark’s finest men.

We were welcomed  at Action Sports Stadiums by the familiar faces of the management team and three of Sano”s young stars. We were the only game scheduled for the day and Sano still only had half a team.

A glance towards the tables confirmed the presence of the magic laptop computer which produces brilliant scorecards and statistics and also provides adequate cover for an umpire to hide behind so not to have to make any hard decisions. Well, that and a large wicketkeepers bottom.

Then for something completely different, we won the toss and elected to field while Sano scrambled to find their missing players in order to avoid the fantastic humiliation of being the first team in Winter League history to declare an innings after the first batting pair. In hindsight they may have just about been able to get away with that.

The team for the day; Charles, Chris.T, Koji, Nazrul, Nick and Tommy, managed by David.L bowled well, held their catches most of the time and managed to hit the stumps with a success rate not seen since, well, last Winter League. But a combination of sensible strokeplay and good running from the youngsters and that magnificent force of sub continental hand eye coordination from the latecomers meant that we would be chasing 94 for victory in round one.

We were off to a flyer! Charles had calculated the situation perfectly and came to the conclusion that to win the game we needed to make runs. So for the first four overs he had Nazrul running. Zero score shots were made into singles, side net shots with a fumble on the end equaled two laps. Even overthrows to long on and long off resulted in an extra sneaky single. Sano were cracking under the pressure. The three new players in their team had unfortunately not been educated on the rules of the game, nor the subtle nuances of the umpiring system. What resulted was a Gavaskar moment with the leader of the pack threatening a walk out of the net, I was having visions of a table and laptop being  smashed over and a whole kit of gear being kicked down the stairs with a verbal barrage of  inaudible insults, panic screams of elderly bargain hunters in the supermarket below, the screeching sound of tyres in the carpark and finally the bogan smell of burnt rubber just lingering in the silence. The Sharks manager was all but holding the net open. Then sanity prevailed and normality was returned.

An opening partnership of just over 40 had us half way home. All the remaining batsmen had to do was play the field, find the side nets, stroll through for singles, leave for Saizeria and enjoy a cold beer. Easy right?

But this was the Shark’s middle order. Boisterous yet brittle. We started to mix flowing cover drives with dolly catches. Like a drive out to the country cricket grounds, a trip which is made many times a year, we managed to get lost. Finally with just under three overs to go and The sharks needing about 20 runs per over, Sano set up a slips cordon….On the back net! Another quirk of the Winter League I thought. In the final over David pointed out to the umpire that he couldn’t find that rule anywhere on the rule sheet. The cordon was broken up and the Sharks tapped out a couple more runs before conceding defeat to our mates from SanoCC.

We then played a friendly match against Kashiwa Indoor and managed to replicate our efforts with bat and ball almost identically to the first match. We played well, they made 93 and we couldn’t. Though not without trying our best.

We changed, left the premises in an orderly fashion and headed to the station. Then there was that burnt rubber smell and in the distance a flash of heat as Charles peddled off into the night.

Player Stats (Bowling/Batting)

Charles 0-28/28 runs

Nazrul 2-2/12 runs

Nick 2-13/-6 runs

Koji 2-12/9 runs

Chris 0-14/7 runs

Tommy 1-26/0 runs

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