- Match Report
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- Photos 2
NO LUCK FOR IRISH AGAINST TWCC
by Alex Koolhof
The Tokyo Wombats and Paddy Foley’s cricket clubs met for the first time in the 2009 Pacific Cup semi-final at the Sano ground in Tochigi Prefecture. It was also the first time that the TWCC had played at this relatively new location for playing cricket – and most of us were surprised at the small size of the ground which was probably similar in scale to a traditional village green in England. The pitch permanently laid out in the centre of the ground however, was a fairly good batting strip.
The Wombats arrived after battling with maps, directions, navigation systems and the general feeling of unfamiliarity in new surroundings and then proceeded to find a certain cafe to pick up a certain key from a certain unlocked car and drive to a certain shed to pickup certain items of cricket gear. This accomplished, we found the ground and did our best to warm-up – the Wombats would be taking the field first after captain Turner lost the toss. Reggie was already there in his little red car – obviously not ministering to the masses today at imitation chapels in Saitama, while Adam, Prabhat and Kasun sportingly offered their services to the Irish pub-based team who were short of a few men. The Foley boys have just been promoted to division one in the J1C – and were probably keen to test themselves against the current champs of that league – and we were eager to assess just what kind of team they actually were.
Nick opened the bowling from the hill end but was bludgeoned right, left and centre by Mr Goldsmith, Paddy’s new opening batsmen. Boundaries came thick and fast and the only thing that was (temporarily) stopping them was our inability to find the pill in the dense thickets around the ground. The search was abandoned and a new ball was called for – the match still only 4 or 5 deliveries old. Reggie Dawson, playing in only his second official game this year, came on from the river end, but he too was punished severely for bowling too short. The score was rocketing along for the opposition thanks largely to Goldsmith, while his partner in Dewdney, gave solid support by not getting out rather than trying to match his teammate’s blistering rate of scoring.
After 8 overs, G.T made a change and brought himself on from the hill end to try and stem the amount of runs being amassed by big-hitting Goldsmith. The batsmen wasn’t fazed though and continued to smack the Wombat’s captain around the ground. Meanwhile, yours truly tried his luck from the river end, and managed to keep the scoring down somewhat – although a few overs were needed to accustom myself to the new pitch. Nick, Reg and myself all confirmed with each other later on that the pitch seemed to be slightly longer than usual – which may explain our unusually short bowling. Dewdney started to push a few runs around, and even plucked up the courage to take a swing and hit me for 6 over long-off. Goldsmith, as usual, was picking the bad balls and dispatching them to the boundary.
15 year old Ben Andrews toiled away hard from the other end, however, by drinks break, Goldsmith had already brought up his ton and Paddy Foley’s were well set at no wicket for 146. The Wombats had also dropped a few tough catch chances here and there, which didn’t help to improve our situation. Shortly after the resumption of play however, the breakthrough came as I managed to trap Goldsmith in front and induce the raised finger from umpire Farmer. Goldsmith’s fine innings of 127 came off only 71 balls and was jam packed with 4s and 6s.
Former part-time Wombat Jeff Flew arrived at the crease and was very lucky not to be caught out in close by Grant straight away after popping one up in the air. With runs drying up a tad, the decision was made to bring on the Shaxinator from the hill end, who proceeded to bamboozle the batsmen with flight and spin. After slowly accumulating 57 runs, Dewdney was finally out to a miss-hit to mid-wicket off Shacksy’s bowling – G.T. taking an excellent “burke-esque” catch running back with the flight of the ball.
Tim May (apparently no relation to his namesake and former aussie spinner), the new boy from Singapore, worked hard from the river end with some accurate bowling and although Paddy Foley’s continued to keep the scoreboard ticking along, the Wombats began to take wickets at regular intervals, thanks to PM Shackleford. Both Jeff and Prabhat were stumped by Jarrad behind the stumps , Rana tried to slog his way out of trouble but instead hit one right down Richard’s throat at long-off, and then Adam Farmer belted one directly to Chuck at cow corner. A run-out ensued on the last ball of the innings as Paddy Foley’s ended their run on 267, which, according to Jarrad Shearer, was a par-score on the small batsmen-friendly Sano ground. Accolades must go to Paul Shackleford for his Michelle Pfeiffer which undoubtedly helped us keep the total below 300.
Richard and Ross opened our innings while the rest of us rugged up on the boundary as the wind-chill factor started to have an effect – although not as cold as Auckland some would say. Rosco cautiously faced Goldsmith but was keen to deal with any loose deliveries coming his way. Welch from the other end got the same treatment from the batsmen, and the Wombats were looking good until Richard nicked one behind from a Goldsmith delivery for only 5 runs.
In-form Courtney Jones strode to the crease and dotted along watchfully for the first few overs. Ferris at the other end was also cautious now – perhaps waiting for the second-string bowlers to appear before upping the tempo. Indeed, as soon as Flew and Dewdney came on to bowl, Chuck and Rosco cut-loose and began thumping boundaries to all parts of the ground. Dewdney was expensive – going for 36 runs off 2 overs – and was immediately pulled from the attack. Instead, they brought on Kasun – a Wombat playing for Paddys – who also got tonked around quite viciously. By drinks, TWCC were 1-145 and there was not much the opposition could do but hope to hold onto their catches, which was what Jeff did on the boundary to dismiss the boy from Ballarat. Ross wasn’t a happy chappy to be out to such a tough looking catch only 7 runs shy of his maiden Wombat hundred.
The TWCC were still in a strong position at 2-168 – another 100 runs needed from the remaining 16 overs. Captain Turner joined the Wombats’ former captain and these two stalwarts set their sights on victory by continuing to dispatch bad balls over the rope. Thomas and Prabhat were also tried, but no breakthrough came. Rana did his best in the field with his over-exuberant and slip-slidey style which kept the spectators amused, while Richard Laidler encouraged his dog JJ to piss on any cricket bag it felt so inclined to lift a rear leg to.
The Jones and Turner show really started to heat up and by halfway through over no.36, the Pacific Cup semi-final was all over. Wombats 2-271 defeated Paddy Foley’s 7-267. Superb batting from Ross, Chuck and Grant to bring us home with plenty of overs to spare. These three batsmen hit 23 fours and 10 sixes and stamped their authority on PF’s bowling attack. The Hardy’s Man of the Match Award for the Wombats went to Paul Shackleford for his fine bowling spell that included 5 wickets, while for Paddy Foley’s, a bottle of our sponsor’s best wine went to Goldsmith for his excellent 127 that kick-started the innings for his team. Play of the day was awarded to Jeff for his well-held catch on the boundary.
Thanks to Paddy Foley’s for a great day of cricket – it was good to play a new team and we look forward to playing you again next year in division 1 of the J1C.
Back in the van, the boys quietly pondered over what kind of fast-food gastronomic delight would best satisfy their hungers. We then proceeded to get lost trying to find the silly shed. After finally locating it, we made a beeline for beers and KFC and then hit the road back to Tokyo. A smallish traffic jam was greeted with groans and made us realise that wherever you go in Japan on the weekend, one is bound to meet with traffic congestion caused by famous ramen shops on the express ways.
The new fellas were introduced to the Wombats’ in-van rituals and the highlights got underway. My choice of footwear seemed to be a good excuse for others to enforce the drinking rule, which naturally compelled me to share my knowledge and spread the good-word about the benefits of bare footing and/or minimalist footwear. Most wombats in the van were finding it hard to believe that an inflexible modern running shoe effectively splints the foot and prevents it from its natural range of movements and as a result, the arch often becomes weak and collapsed since muscles are no longer exercised.
Thanks to Dino for organising and driving the van – a duty that we all share now in the post-Curly era. We now turn our eyes towards playing YCAC in the Pacific Cup final!