Chiba Sharks 173/6 - 174/1 TWCC

September 2, 2007 - 11:00 am at Fuji 1
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by Ian Gason

Tokyo Wombats booked themselves a fourth consecutive Grand Final appearance by convincingly defeating Ichihara Sharks by 9 wickets at Fuji Sunday. A strong late order batting performance took Ichihara to 173, but a 150 run partnership by Shearer and Jones saw us home in the 31st over.

The day actually began many days ago, with some earnest discussions about the choice of ground for the 1v4 semi, the appointment of umpires, the usual random ramblings from the Japan Weather Blokes, the state of the grounds, the price of fish. One mug even went as far as tracking down sawdust. U-beaut Bunnings-style multi-acre home centre? Forget it. Dodgy little corner shop trading illegal wildlife? Bingo……

Morty delayed the Wombat departure by walking out the front door thinking “What’s that large bag of cricket gear doing there by my front door I wonder?” Luckily the road was free of traffic, allowing the (once) trusted driver to finally break the 1 hour mark for the Tomei. Perhaps it wasn’t the green curry that had the skip nearly shitting his pants after all……

Back from his 6 week WA fishing adventure, Courtney Jones won the toss and opted for a trundle. In the warm-up, Big Al became the first man to bleed for the Wombats on match day, and the claret on his whites highlighted the fact that our whites just aren’t white enough.

5 minutes before start time, someone finally asked, “Where’s Reggie?”No, we hadn’t left him at Harajuku. Uncle Reginald was enjoying a leisurely Sunday drive, straw hat and AM radio on, in his little red Sillicar.

10 Wombats took the field, 2 Sharks manned the middle and the battle was on. Me and Morty gave the Wombats the upper hand, probing the Sharks corridors, and keeping them down to a run an over. Morty was unlucky not get a wicket when an edge flew, Dino flew, and Burkey couldn’t hold the deflected chance. The lack of wickets didn’t worry the Wombats as dot after dot ate away at the Ichihara innings. Our first spells were Morty 13 runs from 6 overs and me 14 from 8.

Pup came on at the nets end, and despite much huffing and puffing, but couldn’t blow the Sharks house down. Grunting like a C-grade porn star (do stick flicks have grades, Roscoe?), the Crow Eater’s pace harked back to his leaner, more athletic days.

A Rhino to Dino run out broke the partnership, but also the shackles as the fluent Dhugal Beddingfield entered the fray. After cracking a couple of boundaries off Shax from the car park end, he flicked The Body Koolhoff off his hips. Yours truly ran in from fine leg, threw in a slide for effect and grabbed the prize wicket inches from the ground.

Sharks accelerated after drinks. The Big Skip, Chris Thurgate was asked to lead by example again, and so he did. He was lucky not to be caught off Bish’s bowling. An edge flew over the keeper and leg slip Alex Koolhoff ran in and……and watched. Perhaps the damage to his dexterous digits explains his reluctance to hurl his athletic Body at the ball? (Perhaps fearing 110kgs of Dinosaur does?)

The skip said thanks and went on to compile a 40+ knock, and take out the Hardys Best on Ground for the Sharks. He was supported in his efforts by Apu, who shelved the big shots but was caught behind off Bish, and by Shu, another Bish victim, stumped.

The death bowling was entrusted to Pup and Morty. Pup grabbed some late wickets, Morty used the short ball to good effect against Chris. Sharks finished on a healthy 173, far more than they had looked like getting at the 15 over stage. Would the momentum carry them home?

The Sharks’ hopes were soon up, when on 6, Steve Burke gloved down leg where Sharks’ nucleus Thurgate held a sharp, low chance. A bloody confident LB shout on incoming skipper C Jones went the batsman’s way, and from then on in Sharks had little to shout about.

Although Chuck is on record as saying (of Jarrad) “I’d rather bat with your wife,” the two West Australians settled in and set about compiling the 2nd highest partnership in Wombat history (156*).

Doogs and Mossop were busting their guts for their team, but couldn’t dislodge the pair. Replacing Doogs with Thurlow looked questionable when he was smeared for 16 runs in his first over, but responded with some tight bowling thereafter.

A quick single to backward square almost had Jarrad, but the return was high, allowing the big man to lumber home safely. Chuck’s slog-sweep was a weeeee bit rusty, coming off about 1 in 15 times. One bobbled up towards leg-slip, but the man there couldn’t get back. The runs came apace nonetheless.

From the start, Dino got re-acquainted with the middle of the bat, and was finding the gaps more or less at will. I’d reckon he had more good pulls than even perrenial pipe-cleaner Pup’d have in a week.

With about 80 needed after drinks, I stirred the two saying “get ’em in 30” which Jarrad brushed off as “typical bowlers’” talk. Well, I was almost right. Bill Smith’s tight spell went a way to keeping them in check, but our vets still found enough loose balls to get the rate ticking upwards. With the likes of Bish, Morty and Pup in the shed, it was wickets or nothing for the Sharks. Despite some bowling changes and a more attacking field, it was nothing.

Chuck’s slog sweep ratio moved up to 1:9. There was nothing slog-like about two of his shots over mid-wicket that nailed the lid shut on the Sharks, though. To use Bollywood Gulzar’s expression, “Very Middle” they were. A quick step down the track, picked up and sent way back over the greenery, over the track and down into the river bank. The cricketing equivalent of a Byron Pickett hit. Twice. In one over.

A couple of fresh-air swings by Chuck took the game into the 31st over, where 4 wides and a 4 from the Dino blade sealed the game.

Despite Dino’s excellent performance -both side of the stumps- NOTHING can excuse those leopard print boxer shorts. (But at least it was better than the sight of “an elephant eating a bag of straw,” as Chuck described it.). The 4 semi final teams lingered (at least til Jarrad’s flashing scared ’em off). Hardys was doled out, to Chris, “Very Middle” Jones and a wicketless yours truly. Like dealing with 5 year olds, I finally worked out how to get the Wombats on the van: “Who wants McDonalds?”

The view from the front seat was nay pretty. In front, the moronic Japanese 20km ramen queue had Bish screaming “FREAKS” (rightly so, mate.). Backstage, Dino leaping around shouting “Give ush a kish, Bish. AAAawww go on…you know you WANNIT!!!” Challenges were issued: 100m, 1500m, speed chess, long-dong, full contact tiddly-winks……

Thanks to all Sharks for a good fight, and to MAX’s Kobayashi, for an excellent umpiring effort.

Next week: Wombats v Wyverns, Grand Final.

Hardys Man of the Match

Ian Gason
vs Chiba Sharks (Sep 2, 2007)
Curly's tight opening spell of 8 overs for just 14 runs set the Wombats on course for a semi final victory and earned our van driver a bottle of HARDYS finest....but who will drink it??