- Match Report
THE LIONS ONCE AGAIN LICK OUR LOINS
by Ian Gason
Lately it seems to be the other way round, but Sunday at Koiwa, the rain stayed away and the opposition turned up, and the Japan Gold Cup Finals’ series got under way. Sadly, Wombats have made a first round exit, due to the typically miserly bowling of our nemesis, Sri Lankan Lions.
After six weeks of gathering cobwebs and cancelling renatacars, Wombats did well to dismiss the Lions for 135, on the back of Shaxie’s 3fa, but were choked by persistent, precision line and length bowling, and faltered in the death to be dismissed for 115 in the final over.
Chuck went through the formalities of tossing and, sure as night follows day, lost. Wombats took to the field, and me and The Body Koolhof dueled with the Lions openers. Pads were rapped, balls were pushed past slip, edges weren’t found, and an even contest went on for 9 overs. A switch to round the wicket, brought immediate results, as a top edge had ‘keeper Shearer bellowing ‘MINE’ loud enough for Zulu to hear him down in Briz Vegas. Next over, The Body was amongst the wickets, and Lions were 2/39.
Chuck thanked me for the breakthrough by dragging me and bringing on Jim Cole, who bagged himself a Lion first ball, edged pull to Jamie Foster. 3/39. Paul Shax was soon brought in, and his first wicket came 2nd ball. From then on in, neither side was able to clearly dominate. Lions failed to build on starts, with partnerships in the 10s. Wombats got regular wickets, but were unable to get them in quick succession as we would have wanted.
Paul Shax ended the day with 3-16 – and a bottle of Hardys’ for his trouble. Little Richard took a Schweppes Classic Catch running in from deep square leg and diving forward to take a pearler. Spacey’s call sums it up: you only see those on television. Jamie Foster was in the action again, combining with Papa Steve at the bowlers end for a run out.
Papa was in the action from slip, as a NIKKA wide collected Jarrad’s manky toe on its way to a gift run. With Jarrad rolling around in need of euthansia, the batsmen wrongly figured a second was on offing. Papa sized up the situation, shrugged his shoulders and with all the urgency of Brisbane winning a fourth flag, threw down the stumps for a run out.
The innings was closed for 134, a great effort against a side full of strong bats. Misfield were minimal, the only HG was hot as extra strength Tabasco. Extras were by and large contained. We had set ourselves up with a good chance.
Alas, it was not to be, as unfortunately our old foes bowl every bit as well as they bat. Little Richard was first to go, caught behind as snicko belatedly came to life. Papa Smurf joined Dino at the crease, but that partnership didn’t last long, as Grumps holed out to deep mid on. Chuck Jones picked up a duck, the only man adjudged LB for the day. Wombats were down, but never out. 100runs short of the target, Smoking Pete said ‘Salabas’ to his retirement plans and proceeded to earn the moniker ‘Lazarus’.
More than just bat v ball, this was to be a contest of the minds. Lions are well known for the tightness of their bowling, and the two seasoned Wombat campaigners played a waiting game. Boundaries would not come, and the pair did a great job of keeping things ticking over. Ones and twos were the order of the day, as Lions bowlers – Mahen, Manura and Udaya – were giving nothing away.
Little by little the run-rate crept, from 3 to 4, and by the 27th over had crept to 5. The boys in the middle knew it was time to go, having patiently constructed a 50 run partnership, but knowing a final spurt for the line was needed. Sadly, the Koiwa pitch produced a skidder, and in the blink of an eye, Lazarus was heading back to the remains of the Jarrad Shearer Memorial Stand.
Victory was attainable, though the Lions never showed any inclination to let us near it. Even Roy, who’d continued his poor run of finals by playing a 2 ball crayfish like innings, wouldn’t produce the easy picking we so badly needed. When Papa was finally removed for his 2nd 50 in a row, a 30 ball, 30 run chase was called for. I combined with NIKKA for one 7 run over, keeping our chances alive.
The game was probably won in Roy’s next over, as he restricted us to just 2 runs. Boundaries were badly need now, and they surely wouldn’t be coming gift wrapped at this stage of the day. Trying to hoik good balls got the better of the Wombats’ tail, as NIKKA was bowled, and me and Jamie both got run out trying to manufacture runs.
When The Lions finally wrapped things up in the final over, the margin of victory was a good 20 runs. Such a number doesn’t do justice to the brave fight shown by our boys. We’d bowled and fielded well, and restricted a good batting line-up to a gettable total. With runs as hard to find as virgins in GasPanic, Burkey and Pete’s efforts must be praised for keeping us in the race. Had one or two swings in the death produced 4s and not dots, who knows…..It seems you could bowl these Lankans out for 25, and they’d still choke you with dot balls. Full marks to them for a well earned victory, and we wish them luck in defending their JGC title.
One area where Wombats will NEVER be outdone is the post-match shenanigans. Reluctantly, Watami let us in, and Wombat-to-be Chris was soon wondering what he’d got himself in for. Chuck as ever lead by example, and a speech slurring President churned out never ending stories. Tugga was probably wishing he’d dropped that catch after a few skulls. Lazarus’ Pete was labelled a ‘Peaheart’ for his retirement talk. Jarrad copped a whole lotta Rosie, learning you should never sledge the Irish. Tomoko Hosking leared the difference between tights and hi-tech sporting leg-wear. Chuckie took the meaning of ‘time to piss off’ literally, proceeded to fall up the stairs, had to be manhandled away from, you guessed it, the fire extinguisher, and pulled out his customery ‘bicycle dive’.
Egged on by Axe’s Rosie, Chuck then treated the train to a pole dance, and for Y1000, an exceptionally unartistic strip to the jox and climbed into luggage rack. Dragged down by Ritsuko, the only hit he got all day was the one she superbly delivered to his head. Chuck, you might want to thank her too, for rescuing your shorts from Rosie. Not content, the Chou line got to see him pad up ready for action.
Bigger and better things await The Wombats: KCL semi-final v Ichihara, Sunday 26th at Fuji.