- Match Report
Flair from Zubair and the French Legionnaire
by Richard Bracefield
It was an absolute scorcher of a Sunday in Sano, but drama kicked off before the sun had time to rise, with the juggernaut all-rounder, Jano Venter, pulling his hamstring on the eve of match day – a potentially big blow for the Wombats bowling unit who were already without strike pace man, Vignesh Bandi. Unsurprisingly, the South African vending machine on legs had a few beers before manning up and coming along as a batsman (this was later suspected by the Skipper to have been a cunning and genius ploy by Jano for a promotion up the batting order and securing his berth in the slips cordon).
In unusually punctual fashion for a Sunday match, all 11 Wombats arrived ahead of time and sober – a clear sign of the team’s thirst for victory amidst this turd of a year. There was a strong sense among the lads that we were yet to play to our potential and that the struggling but unpredictable Sano XI presented a good opportunity get the first W for the season. It was also the Wombats’ first time at SICG this year and the first opportunity for many to play on a grass wicket in Japan. However, excited faces would quickly grow forlorn as we found ourselves gazing down upon a soft-topped, flaky track that looked more fatigued than an intern at Dentsu. No doubt this would be a difficult pitch to bat on and one that would most certainly deteriorate rapidly under the blistering heat. Contrastingly, the outfield looked serene and was sure to offer good value for batsmen who were able to steer shots off the dodgy wicket. With neither team keen to field under the peak hours of the relentless Sano sunshine, nor bat second on the precarious pitch, this was a toss we did not want to lose. A silent sigh of relief echoed under the hastily erected gazebos as the Wombats’ Skipper, Alex Patmore returned to the Wombats camp with a smug “batting lads”. Better yet, one of the Sano lads was running very late so they’d be fielding ten players to start. Advantage Wommies, Yiew!
The familiar pair of Alex Patmore and Richie Bracefield opened the innings for the Wombats. After a watchful start, both batsmen began finding gaps and kept the scoreboard ticking over. However, the inconsistency of the low and slow wicket proved difficult to navigate, demanding disciplined front foot batting and shot selection. While both openers were looking well set, neither was able to capitalize on promising starts, both being dismissed after giving lamentably simple catches to the ring field (Richie Bracefield 23 (27), Alex Patmore 28 (52)). Nonetheless, a decent platform was set at 74/2 after 17 overs. Enter Mohammad Ali and Zubair Bappi, whose partnership of 81 runs would develop into the backbone of the Wombats’ innings. With a combination of intelligent shot selection, game awareness, and aggressive running between the wickets, the duo dominated the middle sessions. Playing the anchor role, Ali deftly worked the ball around and rotated the strike, enabling Zubair to play his natural aggressive game. Ali’s eventual dismissal in the 35th over for 32 (76) was followed in quick succession by the loss of rugby lads Jano Venter 9 (14) and Ken Dobson 2 (2) who were given the green light to attack. Unperturbed by the flurry of wickets at the other end, Zubair continued his fierce assault of the Sano bowlers and quickly brought up his maiden half century in Japan before really opening up; belting successive boundaries, including four 6’s cleanly over some of the longest parts of the park. He found a good partner in Malith Rathnasena 15* (15) who unselfishly fed strike to Zubair before showing that he too can find the boundary, hitting two clean strikes on the front foot through the covers for back-to-back fours. The Wombats finishing with a defendable 201/5 to finish our 40 overs. Zubair finishing unbeaten on 68* (54), just one short of that magic number… A terrific knock from the exciting new all-rounder.
With Zubair understandably too exhausted to open the bowling after his tremendous knock, the Wombats would need to rely on their spinners, part timers, and Spider-man (Joe Lewis) to get the job done. Perhaps it was the rush of endorphins from the exuberant batting effort; or perhaps it was Ken Dobson’s homo-erotic hamstring massage using a device resembling a prototype vibrator for giants, but Jano was feeling fit to bowl and would take the new ball in tandem with the ever-economical off-spin of Pramod Singh.
It was a frustrating start for both bowlers with the opening batsmen regularly finding the boundary rope from streaky snicks and edges behind square to keep Sano’s scoreboard ticking over. The breakthrough would finally come with the introduction of Mohammad Ali to the bowling attack with a nifty stumping by Patmore to dismiss Sano’s livid (and confused) captain. The classic cricketer’s mantra of “one brings two” rang true as Ali continued to tear through the Sano top order, quickly dismissing the new batsman who smacked one high to Richie Bracefield at Deep Square, before goading the remaining opener to charge and completely miss a straight one for another tidy stumping by Patmore. Sano’s scoring rate continued to decline as Joe Lewis (4ov-12/0), Rasika Chandimal (8ov-36/1) and the reintroduction of Pramod Singh (6ov-23/2) bowled tightly and took key wickets before partnerships could form, forcing the Sano middle order to manufacture runs with desperate shots. Himanshu Bugalia (5.2ov-20/3) cashed in on the pressure built up by Pramod, Joe, and Rasika, looping up some inviting off spin deliveries to a well defended on-side field. Sure enough, Himanshu’s milkshakes brought all the boys to, well, Cow Corner. Himanshu’s off-spin proving too tempting for the Sano tail enders with two of them holing out Mohammad Ali – both excellent catches with one leaving the batsman so stunned he forgot he had to walk off (a few friendly Wombats promptly reminded him where the dressing rooms were). Himanshu put the full-stop on the match, drawing the No. 11 batsman into a big swing across the line which went straight up. With at least three Wombats converging to where the ball would inevitably descend, it was only natural that Jano, the tallest bloke on the park, would take the catch – and take it he did, while Himanshu mumbled protests of being denied a Caught and Bowled opportunity. Sano comprehensively defeated after being bowled out in the 36th over for 151.
A top effort by all the bowlers, particularly considering the fast outfield and without strike bowler Zubair Bappi. Also a great overall team fielding effort with only one real chance going down by Joe Lewis off his own bowling who subsequently almost fell over after kicking the turf in frustration throwing the lads into fits. Mohammad Ali with the best figures of the match of 7ov-35/4. A great team effort by the Wombats as everyone participated, but a stand out all-round performance by Ali, scoring 32 with the bat in a match winning partnership with Zubair, taking four wickets with the ball, including the top 3 Sano batsmen, and taking two tremendous catches in the deep (even more impressive is that he played the entire match in various Halloween costumes including a French Legionnaire, a circa 1990’s rapper, and Mother Teresa, and only brought one 500ml bottle of water to last the entire day –Playing Hard).
Wombats win by 50 runs.
|Tokyo Wombats CC vs Sano CC|
|Japan Cricket League 2020 (Div. 1), SICG 1, Tochigi, August 30, 2020|
|Toss||Tokyo Wombats CC|
|Umpires||Chiba Sharks CC|
|Result||Tokyo Wombats won by 50 runs|
|TWCC MoM||Z Bappi|
|Tokyo Wombats CC Innings: 201/5 (40 overs)|
|A Patmore*†||c P Roshan b R Suto||28||52||3||0||53.85|
|R Bracefield||c P Roshan b R Suto||23||27||5||0||85.19|
|M Ali||st H Ishara† b P Liyanagunawardena||32||76||2||0||42.11|
|Z Bappi||not out||68||54||4||4||125.93|
|J Venter||c M Yamamoto b Chandima||9||14||2||0||64.29|
|K Dobson||st H Ishara† b M Ahmad*||2||2||0||0||100.00|
|M Rathnasena||not out||15||15||2||0||100.00|
|Extras||(b 0, lb 2, w 19, nb 1)||22|
|Fall of wickets|
|41-1 R Bracefield, 74-2 A Patmore*†, 144-3 M Ali, 167-4 J Venter, 169-5 K Dobson|
|Sano CC Innings: 151 (35.2 overs)|
|S Noguchi||st A Patmore*† b M Ali||15||-||-||-||-|
|M Yamamoto||st A Patmore*† b M Ali||20||-||-||-||-|
|P Liyanagunawardena||c R Bracefield b M Ali||9||-||-||-||-|
|S Takahashi||lbw b P Singh||12||-||-||-||-|
|H Ishara†||b M Ali||2||-||-||-||-|
|M Ahmad*||c M Ali b H Bugalia||22||-||-||-||-|
|P Roshan||c J Venter b P Singh||7||-||-||-||-|
|S Khan||c M Ali b H Bugalia||14||-||-||-||-|
|R Suto||not out||11||-||-||-||-|
|Chandima||lbw b R Chandimal||6||-||-||-||-|
|M Perera||c J Venter b H Bugalia||2||-||-||-||-|
|Extras||(b 2, lb 0, w 6, nb 1)||9|
|Fall of wickets|
|Totally village scoring by Sano--the lazy buggers hardly entered anything...hence this woefully incomplete card. Even the runs and extras don't add up to 151!|
- Jano – late in the innings running back over his left shoulder to snare a difficult catch.
- Jano – stealing Himanshu’s caught and bowled opportunity by taking one that went straight up by the number 11 batsman to close the game out for the Wombats.
- Ali – two excellent high catches deep on the on side boundary. One of them so good, the batsman stood dumbfounded for at least a minute before making his way off the field. Never looked like dropping either of them.
- Patmore – dropped a snick off Rasikas bowling that he’d usually take. Blemish on an otherwise tidy day with the gloves (two stumpings).
- Joe’s caught and bowled was a tough chance, but had everyone in stitches as he tried to express his frustration by kicking the turf but only succeeded in kicking his other foot and nearly fell over.
Great Moments in Sport
- Jano ditching his surprisingly small box while batting and continuing to bat without protection. Hard.
- Malith and Himan, 12th men for the last two games both taking their chance when it came with a run a ball 15 and 3 wickets. Top stuff.
- Ken ‘the voyeur’ Dobson for his filming the past 3 games. Would be good if we could carry this on.
- Zubair’s 68*, 3 booming 6s
- Ali’s 4-fer
- Ali’s different states of head gear: French Legionnaire, 90s rapper and Mother Teresa and others throughout the day
- Alex keeping behind the wicket doing stumpings, back throws and saving singles around the wicket
- Joe’s tight bowling
- Zubair and Ali 80+ partnership
- Patmore, losing his shit at the Sano skipper who apparently didnt think to fill in a scoresheet for the match (or have any real grasp of any of the rules of the game).
- Baseball boy and Sano skipper for throwing a huge wobbly after bat boy was given out stumped. His protest was a McEnroe-esque “I was on the line!” Dumbass.
- Richie spitting the dummy at Himan after the game for some of his scorecard work – immaculate compared to the Sano effort
- Sano guys shouting in Sinhalese language that the white guys are cheaters.
Golden Thong Nominations
- Ali for yet again bringing just one 500 ml bottle of water to the game!