- Match Report
PATCHWORK WOMBATS RETAIN ASHES
by Jarrad Shearer
A team of 7 Wombats and 4 ring-ins downed a competitive British Embassy side by 81 runs in the annual Ashes game on Sunday to retain the Ashes for the 4th straight year. The win was set up by Beath (43) and Jones (37), with late order cameos from ringers Miyaji (15) and Chatterdon (19), and superbly brought home by the bowlers, in particular Hill (3-9) and Chatterdon (2-11).
The day started poorly for the Wombats, with the van leaving Harajuku without Ross and the Ashes trophy, both of which were MIA. However, changing conbinis seemed to have changed our luck as Chuck won the toss and elected to bat on a cool and overcast day in Fooj.
So it was then that Kevin Beef aka Gavin ‘Jesse Ryder’ Beath and I strolled out to face an Embassy attack that included the recently returned Brent and ring-in from YCAC, Kamran. Thommo took the new pill with Brent and both gained plenty of movement and bounce. Brent’s control was good and he got more than the odd delivery to spit off the two paced Fuji 1 track. The same sort of control could not be said for Thommo and Kev jumped into anything loose that Thommo served up. Boundaries were hard to come by though as the outfield was sluggish. I, on the other hand, struggled to deal with the two-paced nature of the wicket and couldn’t dispatch any loose deliveries. Luckily for the spectators, Brent bowled me a beauty that left me off the seam and I duly nicked it through to the keeper for a tedious 7. The only disappointment was it was probably the only ball the keeper took cleanly all day!
Chucky strode to the crease in the 10th over with the score at 44. Both he and Kev scored at a reasonably rapid rate even though conditions were tough and the bowling was tight; its worth mentioning that Embassy only bowled 13 wides in their 40 overs. But it wasn’t without risk as Kev was put down several times including an absolute sitter that Brent grassed at mid-off. David Davies relieved Thommo from the nets end and both Kev and Chucky tucked into his pies with distain. He was far too short and one hooligan on the boundary even commented that changing clubs had done nothing for his bowling. We went to drinks well placed at 1-89.
However, Embassy fought back and in the second over after drinks got a double strike with both Kev and Chuck being dismissed. Kevin was first to go hitting a fully off the offies of F. Davis (not to be confused with D. Davies) out of the middle but straight down the throat of the fielder at deep mid-wicket. 2 balls later, Chuck charged the bowler only to get one that was a bit faster and dipped on him at the last minute, knocking his castle over. 6 balls later, Brent removed Shun’s middle stump; although to be fair to Shun he was playing with a disability as his feet were painted on. Curly joined Rhino to right the wobbly ship but only a few overs later, Rhino was caught at short cover off the leggie Murata in what can only be described as one of the softest dismissals this correspondent has ever seen. Muraken tossed up a leggie that pitched on a good length on off stump and Rhino flat batted a defensive stroke to short cover for that fielder’s easiest catch in his life. Maybe Rhino’s hands were painted on because they couldn’t have got any harder than that!
From 1-89 at the 20 over mark, we slumped to 5-106 five overs later. Curly blasted a couple of boundaries before being a victim to the Fuji 1 deck, bowled by Thommo from one that pitched just short of a length but ended up knocking out middle stump a quarter of the way up. Kyle didn’t last long and was caught off Murata trying to up the tempo. At 7-129, there was concern we’d struggle to get 150 but Miyaji and BECC spare-parts first gamer Jeremy put on 31 in the last 8 overs to get us to 160.
After taking time out to have some lunch and ogle, errr, I mean admire the women cricketers on Fuji 2, we took to the field. Given the conditions, we felt 160 was a defendable total but at 4 an over it was certainly gettable. The key would be to see which team learnt the lessons from our batting performance: the bowling side putting the ball in good areas and letting the pitch do the work or the batting side realizing that to play back was asking for trouble.
David Davies raised a few eyebrows as he strode out to open. Perhaps Thommo thought that by sending out a tail-ender to open he might lull us into a false sense of security? It was obvious that changing clubs hasn’t helped his batting either as Takuro was all over him like a salaryman on ramen after an all-night drinking binge, bowling 4 in a row that pitched on off and just left him, and each time the batsman played and missed. Deciding that offence is the best defence, David hit out, playing a wild slap through cover that earnt him 2 runs. But Takuro was up to the task having learnt a lot in the national team under the tutelage of Richard Laidler, and bowled him a straight one that pitched on a good length. David hadn’t learnt anything from watching us bat and made the mistake of playing back. The ball skidded on a little and wrapped him on the pad, trapping him plumb in front. The skip was overheard lamenting the demise of David within the first over as he has more sledges he didn’t get to use!
Simon and Brent then looked to steady the ship and looked very solid. But it wasn’t long before Simon offered a chance, trying to cut one too close to his body off Takuro but only succeeding in getting a thick edge through to the keeper. Low and fast it may have been, difficult it was not. However, the keeper inexplicably grassed a sitter, which had the one-man peanut gallery down at fine leg mentioning something about the Herschelle Gibbs award and presentation night dates. The Herschelle Gibbs award is for how much a dropped chance costs a team rather than how easy a chance is so luckily for said keeper, it only cost a few runs as a few overs later Simon played around an outswinger from the same bowler and had his furniture rearranged.
Alex then bowled Gilhooly with a big booming inswinger, and Embassy ring-in Jeremy had Brent caught at mid-on by a juggling Curly for 13. So Embassy slumped to 4-43 in the 15th over but with YCAC ring-in Kamran strolling to the crease – a player capable of taking the game away from us quicker than the Fooj Maccas can serve a van load of starving Wommies – it was still very much game on. First ball Kamran faced from Jeremy gave him plenty of width, arguably too much width, and most batsman would be happy to get a sighter outside off they could leave alone. Kamran however will never die wondering and he threw the kitchen sink into an expansive cover drive with his 7 pound tree trunk, otherwise known as a bat. He only succeeded in getting a thick edge allowing the keeper to make amends for his earlier brain fart. Thommo came out to face the hat-trick ball with predictably all fielders up near the bat. Jeremy gave himself every chance by bowling a good ball on a length on off stump but Thommo negotiated the ball successfully and survived the hattrick ball. The game was now effectively over as a contest and Embassy went to drinks at 5-49.
After drinks, Chuck tossed the ball to Kyal, requesting that he clean up the tail post-haste so we could have a beer. Kyal didn’t let the skipper down and did exactly that. One wise man once said that cricket isn’t rocket science and Kyal took those words to heart by bowling full and straight. Firstly he had Thommo caught behind for a 25 ball 1 when he tried to play a slog sweep off middle stump. Next he got the same result when N. Ball tried to cut too close to his body. Finally, he knocked over Yano with a yorker. Meanwhile at the other end, Curly copped a bit of late stick from F. Davis but got his man in the end when he opened the face of the bat to run one down to third man but only managed to edge it through to the keeper.
The game was finally over in the 31st over with the score at 79 when Muraken hit Kyal straight to Koolhof at square leg and Muraken’s batting partner decided that he would take a suicidal single. Al gathered cleanly but the throw to the non-strikers end wasn’t the best. Kyal did superbly to gather one handed and whip off the bails with Muraken not even in the picture.
Wombat’s best was Embassy ringer Jeremy, Embassy best was Brent, and play of the day went to Kyal. Thanks to our ringers for making the effort to help us out and thanks to the Embassy for a competitive game, which unfortunately wasn’t reflected on the scoreboard.
With only 7 Wombats on board, the van ride home was a quiet affair with one Wombat revealing that he has dreams of being an airline pilot, of sorts….