JCL Division 2 – Chiba Sharks vs Wyverns
Sano 1, 12th July 2020 – By Neel Date

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“Tsugi wa Tatebayashi, Tatebayashi, shuutenn desu.” These words emanating from the Tobu Isesaki Line train’s speakers were sure to be music to the ears of every single cricketer on the train. After no sign of a start due to the ongoing pandemic – then numerous false starts owing to the seemingly endless rain – the 2020 cricket season had finally arrived. As we excitedly descended the stairs exiting the station building, the famous digital thermometer awaited us and immediately threw at us a reality check – 31 degrees Celsius, it said. We then made our way to Sano 1, where after being briefed by the JCA about the coronavirus guidelines, we were ready to get on with the action.

Captain KB lost the toss and the Wyverns sensibly opted to bat first. Taking the field for us were: Ajeet (debutant), Erika (debutant), Ibby (debutant), Santosh (debutant), Neel, Vicky, Mairaj, Hamdan, Sunny, Umar and KB.

What unfolded next unfortunately does not make for merry reporting. Although we started decently and made the first breakthrough with their score at 36, courtesy of a nonchalant one-handed caught and bowled by left arm tweaker Umar, the next pair of Kimura and Ikeda got stuck into us. They were initially patient against our good balls and were effective in scoring off our bad ones. Kimura, in particular, consistently pounced on anything short and dispatched it to his favourite areas over square leg and midwicket.

Several dropped chances also severely hurt us. Our problems were further compounded by the heat and humidity and we found ourselves short of answers and perhaps also motivation. By the time we took our next wicket with the score at 153 and plenty of overs remaining, the damage was done. The batsmen coming in used the strong platform set by the top order and scored freely to give the Wyverns a final score of 263/8 after their 40 overs. However, we could take positives from the fact that five bowlers took at least one wicket.

Chasing this down was always going to be a tough ask, and just kept getting harder and harder as we found ways to get out to some disciplined bowling from the Wyverns.

In cricket, some passages of play are not worth dwelling upon too much, and this innings as a whole was one such instance. Extras top scored with 32, and Ibby was a lone bright spark, looking comfortable during his 23 but when the next highest score is a single digit number, the scorecard does not make for pretty viewing. We were tamely dismantled for 85, giving Wyverns a victory by the margin of a whopping 178 runs.

Yes, it was a difficult day, but it is our choice whether this match will be looked back on as the first of a disastrous and unfulfilling season, or an aberration in an otherwise enjoyable year of cricket for the 2nd XI. Opportunities will undoubtedly present themselves; it is up to us to put ourselves in a position where we are able to grab them with both hands.