by Courtney Jones
Farewell TWCC. Playing for the Wombats for 9 years, I’ve seen TWCC develop from those very humble Koiwa league beginnings into a very successful on and off field JCA powerhouse and it’s been a joy of a ride. So in memory of my 9 glorious seasons, I’ve put together a bit of a personal highlights package. I may have forgotten an incident or missed a game where something spectacular happened but just from what I witnessed these are the TWCC moments which I will never forget. And no this is not mean’t to be a cricket homage to Steven Burke.
BEST INNINGS: Can’t separate these 2 innings.
Jarrad Shearer 110n.o. vs BECC, 2006 semi-final. We lost all the top order cheaply chasing 210 and I honestly thought we were gone but Jarrad’s 18 boundaries carried him through to a ton and us a victory which was welcomed with a mighty “Get that up ya!” roar that I reckon echoed up the valley all the way to the top of Mt. Fuji.
Steve Burke: 74n.o. vs Friends in the old KCL, 2005. Opposition had a big opening quick who got a bag the previous week and by all reports had the opposition jumping and ducking. Well his first 5 overs went for 50 as Burkey pulled and cut him with ferocious elegance. The further Burkey kept hitting him the faster and shorter this guy kept bowling and it was just a total mismatch. Steve’s effortless upper cut for 6 to the long boundary out towards the river mouth at Fuji #2 will live long in the memory.
Special mention: Bjorn Pedersen. 68n.o. off 49 balls vs Wyverns, 2007
BEST BOWLING: Ian Gason 5/20 vs Sharks. 2005? (Curly?) One of the few times on a cricket field where I genuinely thought we were going to get a wicket every ball bowled. Ian kept bowling straight and wickets kept tumbling. I reckon I was close to being the first person knocked cold by a fellow team mate when I asked him to have a spell.
BEST CATCH: Luke Ray. “The Freak” was born when he launched himself to his left and plucked a one hander cms off the ground kicking up a cloud of dust in the old Koiwa days.
Steve Burke: 2006 GF. From my position at square leg I heard a snick. Looked to the slips to see only the soles of Steve’s shoes at my eye level and that delicious “Slap!” of a cricket ball in the middle of an outstretched right hand. Only he could take such a blinder!
BIGGEST SIXES: Steven Burke. 2 in 2 balls at Shizuoka vs IECC in a practice game to take him from 44 to 56 and retirement. Off spinner bowling and Papa launched successive big rainbow arcs that landed easily 40 meters beyond the boundary.
Dave Benson (BECC player) off Ian Gason. Only time I’ve seen someone land a ball from Fuji #1 into #2. Was hit flat and very long and in the words of Mr. Bollywood Gulzar “Very middle!” (you remember that one don’t ya Curls!)
BEST ALLROUND DISPLAY: Chris Mortimer 2-23 off 6 overs, 68n.o., a catch and no sleep the previous night due to taking home the best looking girl from Muse (As usual!). Has there ever been a better all round performance in sport?
BEST INNINGS BY AN OPPOSITION PLAYER: Chris Thurgate (Chiba Sharks) 2006
He was almost unstoppable on his way to 86 off 50 balls and went within 11 runs of winning the game for them. His placement and power that day left me basically powerless to place a field as he was piercing gaps for 4’s with 7 men on the boundary!
BEST DROP: Tim (only played 1 game. See his haunted mug trapped in the back of the van in one of the early photo galleries) at Shizuoka. He was never seen again but he made an impression on me. Fielding at deep square, a top edge goes up his way and as he attempts to get into position he half trips, but keeps his eyes on the ball, takes another step and fully trips then belly flops to the turf arms outstretched as the ball plonks down a meter ahead of his outstretched fingers. Full credit to him as he watched the ball all the way but his tragic uncoordination made it bloody humorous to watch.
Luke Ray: At Kobe fielding on the boundary and a flat, curving ball is hit his way. He didn’t move until the last moment and to my total disbelief did a big soccer goalie style speccy dive BUT away from the ball, instead of at it! My guess is a combination of a swerving flat hit and the previous nights indulgences left The Freak’s radar a little out.
Special mention: Ian Gason for not dropping but failing to get his hands on many a high skier that went his way. To me it’s a miracle he never wore one of those skiers in the face.
THE SPECIAL MOMENTS: Steve Burke. 5 4’s in a row vs Chiba Sharks in a final.
Ian Gason bitch slapping a six into the river bushes at Gunma to win a game early in Wombats history.
Paul Shackleford’s one handed catch in gully to dismiss Chino in the 2007 GF.
All the Grand Final victories.
James “Birdy” Watson’s full length haka at the top of his bowling mark at Koiwa.
ONLY IN JAPAN!
Does the opposition captain stop a game, walk off the field and complain to the Wombats skip that one of the Wombats batsmen out in the middle is sledging the opposition fielders.
Do the opposition batsmen walk off the ground and refuse to bat because it’s too windy.
Does an opposition batsmen refuse to bat on after belting us for 20 runs in the previous 4 balls and win the game for his team because a few drops of rain have made his footing not perfect.
Does the CEO of Japan cricket deliberately charge and shirtfront a player and get away completely without any penalty.
THE VAN AND KOBE TRIPS
Spacey’s golden showering of Wombats from the top of the van at a Tomei stop.
Rich Cosway earning his nickname “Chunky” by spewing out the window of the front seat of the van (after only 4 beers!) only to have it vacuum back in through the open jump seat window with Zulu and Ai coping facials.
Andrew “Nikka” Hall then grossing all out by cleaning the van windows with his tongue after the before mentioned Chunky incident.
Those Dutch oven van rides made victory all the more euphoric!
The pile ons. I swear my neck was almost broken when Dino, Laids and Beefy pinned me to the the soggy, beer stained floor one time.
Killer does Kobe!
The Jinro Jokers vs The Whisky Swillers.
The aftermath of the Australia vs Japan soccer game. Laids spending the night in an unknown location somewhere in Yokohama and Killer ending up being arrested in Shizuoka and with his only telephone call, calling Dino!
How did Morty talk that girl into jumping into a van full of unknown smelly, inebriated foreigners?
“The Wombats aren’t for everyone”
“Some people like to mix coke with that!”
“The monument to the human struggle”
“I just got to Harajuku Station and saw all your shit everywhere”
“That’d be me!”
“I’m sorry I pissed in your milkshake”
“Wow! Check out the moon fellas”
“Andy Bichel. How’d he get a game?!”
“Work the shaft and cradle the balls”
“It was very middle!”
MY TWCC ALL TIME 11 (in batting order)
1. Steven Burke: Would be playing for Australia if he wasn’t so nice. Finals batting average of well over 100 testiment to his quality. Took catches only he could take and once hit 723 runs in a season. No coincidence that his arrival at the club coincided with our run of GF victories.
2. Gavin Beath: Naturally gifted stroke playing opener who cuts and pulls with authority. Picks up handy wickets with his NZ honed dibbly dobbly’s. Hates beer and short pitched bowling.
3. Ross Ferris: Perfect #3 because he scores big and quickly. Rare ability off his pads and surprisingly devastating with his gentle offies. Always pack a bag of candy when playing with him.
4. Chris Mortimer: Always plays in the V, solid and dependable averaging 48 with the bat and a genuine allrounder who’s aggressive with the ball in hand. Great team man, ladies man, dresser and eloquent speaker.
5. Tim Whisker: Aggressive, consistent and hard hitting expat Kiwi who averaged 40 with the bat and they always came quickly. Was a sight to behold carving up Roppongi dance floors.
6. Mark Ainslie: The second genuine allrounder in the team who never died wondering with bat or ball in hand. Bowled genuinely quick on his day and dealt mainly in bowleds and LBWs. Loved hitting the ball hard and far and another great team player. Occasionally had too much sex on the mind me thinks.
7. Jarrad Shearer: The rock from which so many partnerships and victories were built around. Best expat keeper in Japan whose work behind the stumps is often brilliant. The worst sledger ever!
8. Gerrard Brady: Only played the 1 full season with TWCC and against us in a couple of others. Had a huge impact with his genuine pace and wicket taking ability. Drew blood and inflicted bruising on the opposition regularly. Displayed inexperience with Finnish love making techniques.
9. Ian Gason: Dependable workhorse is TWCC leading wicket taker. He always wanted the ball in his hands, was at times brilliant in the field and handy lower order biffer. Should have worn a helmet more often. Fittest Wombat ever. Total nondrinker-thank goodness!
10. Paul Shackleford: Unwavering in his tossing the ball up mandate. Not a big spinner but always gets wickets. Second highest wicket taker in TWCC history and has the best strike rate of any player with more than 10 games and 20 wickets. His offies balance the side beautifully and he has always supported a really lovely hairstyle.
11. Alex Koolhof: Another bowler who consistently gets wickets with his nagging length. Not quick but always bowls in the right areas. An elegant mover in the field.
12th man. Grant Turner: Bowling allrounder with the best outswinger in Japan. Never gets hit around and on his day is a joy to watch bat with his sweet timing.
Well Wombats it’s been exciting, eventful, memorable and most of all just plain fun. I’m so thankful that TWCC formed because without the characters I met and the friends I made living in Japan just wouldn’t have been so enjoyable.
Remember, Once a Wombat, always a Wombat!
Equipoise forever lads!