- Match Report
CRICKET THE WINNER AT SHIZUOKA
by Steve Burke
Cricket was the winner! Yes, that’s right – two competitive teams, perfect weather and the picturesque Abekawa ground in Shizuoka. Whilst the Wommies fell over the line for a 26 run win, this was a perfect example of what a “friendly” should be with the game played in good spirit and all players involved in the game with the bat and/or ball.
As always with games at Shizuoka, it was an early start with the van departing Harajuku around 7:30am though this week it was unfortunately minus the bikini model. With only 8 Wombats in the van, it was a more comfortable trip down than the previous week (12 Wommies) and even in his absence due to having to “clean his house” (or perhaps in spite of it), Jarrad Shearer managed to pop up regularly in conversation.
Even with only 8 blokes, it was still proved too big a challenge to complete the supermarket stop within 15 minutes with the Shizutetsu porcelain coming in for some severe punishment. However, it turned out to be a perfectly timed arrival at the ACG (Abekawa Cricket Ground) as we managed to avoid having to layout the flix pitch.
Introductions were had with our two newest Wombats, Richard and Ben Andrews (first father and son combination for the Wommies). That left us one man short, but fortunately for us, the Kytes had a spare man for us – Dana. Unfortunately, for the Kytes, they would later rue loaning us the best kept spinning secret in Shizuoka.
The toss was won by the Wombats and we batted with a new look line up. Beathy and Curly started us off against some good bowling from Mewan and Sukita. Unfortunately the openers and new number 3, Hamburger Hill, fell early and we were 3/25 in the 7th over. With the Bendigo/Ballarat combination of Trenton Dean and Ross Ferris at the crease, the ship was steadied for a while with Trent leading the way. Trent’s unusual technique and powerful hitting frustrated the Kytes with his first three scores being boundaries, the highlight for me being a crunching lofted cover drive to get off the mark.
Trent’s departure for 16 brought first gamer Richard Andrews (Minister-Counsellor with the Australian Embassy). The Ross/Richard partnership was memorable for a number of expertly executed gay dabs, the finest being Roscoe’s dab between keeper and gully for four. The dismissal of Ross left us at 5/88 and brought about another first for the Wommies with 15 year old Ben joining his Dad Richard at the crease – the first father and son batting combination – which had some Wombats sitting on the side line wondering what other combinations the Wombats were yet to experience.
The father and son partnership yielded 37 runs with Ben displaying an excellent technique and playing some nice drives. Richard at this stage was batting with a runner courtesy of a strained hammy but was just starting to unleash. I then joined Richard at the crease and had the best seat in the house as he applied the blowtorch to the Kytes bowlers with technically correct strokes and technically correct slogs. I managed to lob one down Neil’s throat off Suresh. Not long after, Richard departed for a magnificent 78. Kasun and Dana came and went quickly leaving Strides stranded having faced just one ball. We went to lunch feeling confident that 188 from 35 overs was a winning score.
The Kytes got off to a solid start with Todd and Larry keeping the “good ones” out and Todd narrowly avoiding a bit of chin music from Strides that missed by centimetres. Strides finally did get his man with Todd nicking one through to stand in keeper Gavin Beath. Larry followed next over to a gazunter from Curls which made a mess of the stumps and had Curly looking a little sheepish.
Spin bowling, often under-rated but hugely effective in Japan, was introduced in the form of Ross Ferris in the 9th over. The big Ballarat-ian didn’t let the skipper down with a match influencing spell of 3/9 in 3 overs (we’ll ignore that 4th over Roscoe! Though that over did include Strides almost taking the catch of the year with a one handed, diving effort at deep backward square leg).
Strides completed a fine 7 over spell of 1/26 before spin was introduced from the end “formerly known as the lone tree end”. Dana, on loan from the Kytes, was asked to roll his arm over – all the Wombats skipper knew was that he bowled off spin. As luck would have it, Dana was bowling to the Kytes skipper, Nick, who was heard to say words to the effect of “he’d better not get me out if he wants a game for us”. Well, after starting off shakily, the Murali-clone deceived Nick with good flight and rearranged the Kytes skipper’s castle. Dana would go on to finish with 3/34 off 7 overs in a crucial spell.
The Kytes went to drinks at 6/90 with the Wombats on top but we knew that anything can happen on the smallish ACG. With the Sri Lankan spin combination (Dana and Kasun) continuing from both ends, the Kytes fell to 8/129 (including an apparent “eyes closed” catch from Trent at long-on) and the game was seemly all over. However, Sukita of the Kytes, also batting with a runner (might try it myself next game) started to unleash some powerful shots as the Kytes whittled the equation down to 40 runs with 8 overs left. Curls was getting a little nervous and was counting down the runs from short fine leg.
The introduction of young leggie, Ben Andrews, proved decisive. Showing great composure and skill, Ben landed some nice leggies and even a couple of wrong-uns as the batsmen got away with some big swipes. Ben however had the last laugh as he had Sukita caught at deep mid-wicket off his sucker ball – a nice juicy full toss! Kyal Hill was fortunately able to locate the whereabouts of his shoes that he had been fielding without, and managed to chew through the last wicket to end the Kytes innings on 162.
Thus ended a thoroughly enjoyable game where players from both sides were given opportunities that they often don’t get and making the most of these. Richard’s 78 and a catch was an easy choice for Wombats’ man of the match, as was Sukita’s double of 58 and 2/32 for the Kytes. Play of the Day went to Dana for his effort to knock over his future skipper’s off peg.
A couple of notable mentions: Gavin Beath for a very clean performance behind the stumps – one catch and one stumping – putting the pressure on our other two stumpers. And to Ian Gason for a couple of efforts in the field where he managed to display the coordination of a newly born giraffe – apparently it had something to do with not adhering to his pre-match routine.
Players from both sides made their way over to the Soba shop for a few refreshing ales. Beer orders were made which sent the 80 year old soba shop owner off on his bike to the nearest bottle-o to make the required purchases! As always, post game celebrations in our favourite Shizuoka Soba shop were enjoyed by all. Neil and Nick managed to lighten our wallets as part of fundraising for the Kytes lawnmower repairs – all for a good cause.
With only 8 guys on the van for the ride home (and only 6 in the “mosh pit” a.k.a the back of the van), I thought that perhaps the extra space would allow guys to chill out and relax. However, once the beer stop had been made at Shizutetsu and “evil Kyal” replaced his alter ego “good Kyal” on the van, I knew I was wrong. With a truly inebriated crew and Rob Mann’s “Wommies Van” CDs pumping, it was soon apparent that the additional space in the van only meant that guys were able to launch themselves further than usual with even Kasun firing up in between his power naps. The van was truly rocking leading to an inspirational speech/lecture from Ross at piss stop #3. Something to the effect of respecting the front of the van given that Curly is hurtling down the Tomei at 100+km/h. It was partially respected, although it really only meant that the action moved further down the back of the van. We arrived back in Harajuku around 11pm with yet another destroyed esky but this week I am glad to report we were minus the “male models from Mudgee”.
Thanks again to the Kytes for a great day. Thanks to the Wommies boys for making the day so enjoyable on and off the field. Hope to see as many of you as possible this Saturday for Curly’s farewell party. If anyone deserves a send off, this man does. ONE, TWO, THREE……