- Match Report
TOYAMA TROUNCE WOBBLY WOMBATS
by Courtney Jones
Mohammad Ali vs “Smoking Joe” Frazier, Mundine vs Green, McGrath vs Lara, West Coast Eagles vs Sydney Swans, Jaywinkle C.C. under 11’s vs Doubleview C.C. under 11’s and……..sorry Morty, I don’t know any soccer rivals…..
Epic sporting matchups that have pitted the very best, at their very best in deciding the number 1 in their respective disciplines. Sunday March 30th, 2008 promised another massive clash as the two best performed cricket teams in Japan of the last few years were due to engage at the Ageo ground.
This mouthwatering blockbuster was dead in the water at 9pm the night before the game as the Giants skipper informed me that his team was pulling out of the contest due to battle fatigue. Apparently they had brutalised opponents on the two previous Sundays and after months of notice and planning were unable to prioritize their efforts and get themselves up for a huge game against the Wombats. Perhaps lucky for us, as our replacement opponent Toyama C.C. proved too good in beating the Wombats by 3 wickets.
The Wombats unveiled three new faces in Grant Turner, Japan National team candidate, Kibayashi and Japan under 15’s star wicket keeper Takumi. The Wombats won the toss and decided to bat, but soon lost Burkey. Ryan promoted to #3 after getting in the skip’s ear about batting up the order joined Dino and the pair scored freely. Dino in particular was uncharacteristically aggressive but one quick single too many found him just short of the crease for 22.
First gamer GT came in at #4 and played aggressively immediately. Luckily for GT on 0, a crunching drive was dropped by the bowler and from then on his drives all whistled through the field and often to the boundary. Wombats 2-91 after 17 at drinks and with Ryan and GT sharing a 52 run stand, a lovely platform had been laid.
We squandered this opportunity though as GT, Kibayashi, Ryan and Chuck all fell within 8 overs. Pup and Laidler were able to re-group with some counter attacking blows and Laidler’s straight 6 thumped back over the bowlers head was a highlight. This 55 run partnership enabled us to build a competitive total, but following their dismissals, only 14 runs came off the last 4 overs to leave the Wombats to defend 186 off 35 overs. Also, if I was to be totally up front, Toyama’s poor fielding probably gifted us 30 runs which was a bonus.
Not a bad score on a flix pitch and with our bowling and fielding depth I thought it would be enough. Toyama’s batting plan was simple and none too subtle as four boundaries were slashed in the first 10 balls of their innings. Pup requested a mid-on after two balls went to the boundary through the vacant area, so second slip comes out to fill it. Next ball edged to the vacant second slip. Ahhh…! I knew I shouldn’t have moved! But in all honesty it was bloody cold and the catch still had to be taken! I go back to second slip and the batsman lines up the vacant mid on again, but this time he can’t get down on a searing Pup yorker and the Wombats were on our way. Not quite to plan but you’ll take it.
Toyama played a game that was best summed up by #3 Razaq. Dino tells Chuck “Put in a cow corner because he’s only got one shot!” but I resist, rather waiting for him to play the shot first. Well Razaq waited one ball before sending it 30 meters over the boundary. I respond to Dino with “a cow corner wouldn’t have mattered mate!”. Next ball he’s bowled by GT.
Exhilarating and frustrating is the only way to describe these blokes when they get going with the bat! I liked Laids simple sledge to Zahid after a huge agricultural swing and miss at one of his deliveries “Awww….play cricket will ya!” Rizwan, Zahid and Hanif all batted with the same abandon and at one stage Toyama were 4/86 off 13 overs. With that kind of strike rate we had to bowl them out to win, however Zahid shattered that thought with some of the hardest hitting I’ve ever witnessed. His 51 came off 40 balls and all Wombats bowlers suffered at his blade at some stage.
Rain started to come down which made bowling difficult but we stuck at it and all respect to the bowlers who came back in their second spells and made the last 20 runs very difficult for Toyama. Alex’s 2/22 off 6 and Laidlers 1/26 off 7 were the standout figures as Toyama won with 6 overs and 3 wickets in hand.
We quickly dealt out the Hardys’ awards as the rain and cold were setting in. GT on debut took the Wombats best for the double of 33 runs and 2/28. Toyama’s best went to the awesome power hitting of Zahid and play of the day went to Mudassar for the direct hit run out of Jarrad.
A very special thanks must go to Toyama not only for making the five hour drive to play us, but also for supplying a wonderful Pakistani chicken pulao lunch for all at no charge. Also, Takumi who played his first game with the men and aquitted himself very well behind the stumps and with the bat. Japan’s Chino, watch out!
We hit Watami at Ageo station for food, beers and highlights. Jarrad attracted most recognition with his lowlight, non diving fielding attempt. Poor planning saw us get on the train at Ageo with no travellers but, we still had fun daring Dino to run off the train at the stops to go buy drinks.
Even though we didn’t come away with a win I thought we gained a lot from the game. Ryan showed he’s good enough to bat at the top of the order and is going to put pressure on the top 5 to consistently produce scores. Grant demonstrated his all round abilities and worth, while Alex’s control and accuracy returned to the levels we know he’s capable of. Our fielding was again very good but from an overall perspective, how well prepared are we as individuals and as a team for the beginning of the J1C season in May?