by Ian Gason
What they lacked in numbers and experience, they made up in intensity, as this year’s Tokyo Wombats Chiang Mai Sixes Tour has been given a ‘best yet” rating by the skipper and veteran, Marty Charlton. Missing stalwarts and never-say-die units like Andy Hall and Luke Ray didn’t dent the enthusiasm of the tourists. In fact it may well have spurred them on.
With the excuse basket at Wombat HQ full, helped was called in. Sandy at the Irish Pub sorted us out with Robin, aka Hot Lips, but at 18 years of age, how would he handle the after hours? Marty found out quick that this young lad would match it with the best of ’em, and would cover the gruelling week. Ravindra Pushpakamara may have dismissed Sachin Tendulkar 3 times, been called nasty names by Glenn McGrath, won a World Cup, but how would he handle life as a Wombat? By drinking more than ever before, staying out at Bubbles and Spiceys and crawling to the games (and through them sometimes!) is how.
Chris Mortimer, virgin, 6’15” of Julio, took to Chiang Mai like a duck to water. After some initial hesitation, Morty was soon playing his shots with the confidence of a veteran, taking opportunities to turn 1s into 2s, getting the occassional comparison to Viv Richards.
Reggie, Marty and Curly, 11 tours between them, knew they had to lead from the front, give a little bit extra, and drive this tour for 8 tough days. So well had the team gelled, that on Sunday night, on the eve of two tough games, the boys declined a chance to have Gilchrist’s former NSW opening partner as a team-mate. “Team balance” was the official reason, though some may suspect that tanking had more to do with it! Sandy was unimpressed, shaking his head, “You’ve been pestering me for TWO MONTHS, Curly!?!”
When we hit town Saturday arvo, Marty was camped in the Porn Ping bar with the Awali boys, where dwarves were the subject of much ridicule. Marty’s monster drinking sesh was 6 hours old, and 14 hours later as the sun rose Marty was speeding into the 7-11 for yet more booze! Team bonding takes priority over sleep. So wake up Morty, too!
So we played some cricket. Beaten with dignity by TC’s Warathais, and beaten with the ugly stick by Bangladesh’s Cricketeers. Marty was failing admirably behind the stumps, persisting with the much discredited Wall Technique. Most of our runs came from the booming blade of Pushy. His bowling was a bit lacksidasical, and Reggie was surprised to know he payed his 23 Tests as a bowler. “You wouldn’t have thought so after today’s effort” surely a Quote of the Year?
Pride was restored with a win over the Drifters, and our Big Plan was in place: The Bowl.
Unfortunately Amal Silva hadn’t read The Big Plan and smeared us all over Chiang Mai, and setting us with a do-or-die clash with Thai Thevada. Deja vu all over again?
Luckily for Curly Bank was at a temple ceremony so it was left to Orf to make him look silly, sending him down-town twice, once onto the roof. Play of The Day however had earlier been won by a tired Pushy, who admitted he didn’t see his first ball. Walking a single to cow-corner, Pushy was run out by a ball which trickled the last ten metres along the ground! Fortunately he had already helped set up a score of 70, which was too much for the Thais. A very relieved Hot Lips secured his first tour wicket, LBW, when the Thai opener backed away to POINT!
An 8:30 clash with the men in pink, The Armadillos, was on, and now it was time for the skipper to get tough: 4am curfew!! After adding a new bar to our circuit, Tuskers (good grill!) before making the usual cow corner et al rounds, team bonding headed to Spiceys, how unusual. Plenty of action on the floor, much bump and grind, as well as a wayward Irishstani, Makki, doing his tequila best to sabotage our plans. The Monster had worked himself into a state, had his dancing shoes on, changed them for the wobbly boot, then slipped on the beer goggles before slipping away just inside the curfew. (see pics for his pre-game state.)
Reggie, The Quiet Achiever, opened up with Pushy and the pair got us off well. A stumble in the middle as Curly and Robin collected ducks #1 and #2 for the tour. Marty and Morty took us to 76. Armadillos made a good chase of it, with the game still alive til the last ball. Morty made a choice far better than Spiceys, digging in a short ball and securing a final berth for the Wommies.
Visitors encamped, numbers in the tent swelled, and players took advantage of the few hours break to get some R&R. One Wombat even took a leaf out of Imran Khan’s book. There was a bit of a panic when we realised we were 20 mins ahead of schedule. A quick head count, burgers abandoned and pads on! Pushy got us going in his usual rollicking style, with Morty coaxing the extra running out of him. Entering the final over, Curly and Reggie were aiming 70+, but maybe the pre-game routine paid off, as Amal Silva saw his last 3 balls go 664! First six was carried over right in front of the vigilant commentator, but the next one sailed fair over the roofs!
82, a very good total.
Marty made a big request of young Robin, bowl to Sixes veteran and Test legend, Amal Silva. The gamble didn’t pay off. Robin threw down a few too many wides and 42 off the over put the Silva Stars in the box seat. Tight overs followed, and Robin did extract a wee slice of revenge, catching Amal in the deep. Wombats took the game into the final over, but ant-climatically, the game was sealed by a Monster wide.
The camp was shattered, but only briefly. There was one last night of partying to worry about. Robin took some cheering up, but would we swap a great week with mates for a win in the final? Never!
Big thanks to the tournament committee and sponsors. Pushy, mate, it was an honour to have you as a team-mate, but remember to ground your bat! Hope you can make 2009. Robin, great effort. You held your own against the likes of Marty- no mean feat! Don’t let one over spoil your memories of a U-beaut week. Be seeing you in Tokyo when you get those studies done.
51 weeks to 2009……..
- On Field
- By Day
- By Night