- Match Report
WOMBATS AND BRITISH EMBASSY IN A THRILLER
by Steven Burke
The Tokyo Wombats and the British Embassy played out a thrilling tie, the first in KCL history, last Sunday at Shizuoka. Inspired by Ian ‘Curly’ Gason’s Rick McCosker (Centenary Test, 1977) like heroics the Wombats looked like snatching victory before the British Embassy held their nerve to claim a tie.
The trip to Shizuoka started in the usual fashion with an early morning (7:10am) pick up from Harajuku station. Dino making a rare bus trip appearance thought the Wombats had a new player until he realized it was actually Chuck minus his hair. A couple of Wommies suffering from a severe lack of sleep from the night before decided to catch a few Z’s on the trip down and it caught on with all 9 backseat Wombats in noddy land at one stage.
Things were going smoothly until we took a different highway exit on Jarrad’s advice. Upon exiting there were calls of “Which way now??!”. Jarrad, as confident as always, replied “Right!!” to which the driver replied “Are you sure?”. This led to the first of many Quote of the Week nominations for the day when Jarrad answered, “Of course I am sure. If I don’t know the way to the ground, then NOBODY knows”. Well, apparently nobody knows because after 1 hour and 4 stops to ask for directions we finally navigated the required 10 kms or so, to the Abekawa ground.
At the ground, things started as per usual with Chuck losing the toss and the British Embassy boys, well there seemed to be quite a few Aussie accents amongst them, electing to bat. With Curly (1/26) opening from the lone tree end and Reggie (2/39) coming downwind, the Wombats started pretty well but it wasn’t until the 6th over when the first breakthrough came. Reggie enticed an edge which I juggled and finally held at first slip. Generously assisted by our extras contribution (including 30 wides) runs came at a steady pace for the British and with their opening bat looking very good, it took a bizarre set of circumstances for the Wommies to remove him. Zulu had been given his first chance to bowl this season and, in his second over, unfortunately bowled two beamers, albeit at a pretty slow pace. But the rules are rules and Zulu was banned from the bowling crease only for The Freak, Luke Ray (1/26), to step up and claim a wicket first ball as the Embassy opener advanced down the wicket, without remembering to bring his brain, and Jarrad completed the stumping.
At drinks the British were 3 down for about 115 and a big score was on the cards. A couple of dropped catches immediately after drinks and some big hits by the British saw the score motor along until the bowling partnership of Shacksy (2/33) and Spacey (1/28) brought the Wombats back into the game. Both bowlers used the Flix pitch to their advantage and finished up with economical figures and a couple of wickets from their spells. A late flurry from the British Enbassy saw them reach 211 off their 40 overs. Not a huge target at Shizuoka but still a pretty decent score to have on the board.
The Wombats were confident of reaching the target and started well with Jarrad (52) and myself (74) putting on 105 for the first wicket off 17 overs before I skied a ball from the Embassy’s young Japanese leg spinner, Kenji, to be well caught by Andy King at long on. Chuck followed right on drinks to a brilliant leg side stumping by Tom, who kept up to the stumps to nearly all bowlers, and the Wombats were 2/112 at drinks requiring 100 runs off 20 overs.
Shacks (11) and Dino built a partnership after drinks and kept the asking rate around 5.5 an over until Shacks was beaten in flight and stumped. This brought Axe (22) to the crease who, along with most of the Wombats, hadn’t had a match day hit in season 2005. Axe and Dino lifted the tempo. Dino smacked a big 6 but unfortunately he went for another soon after and was caught on the mid-wicket fence – 4/172. Chunky batting at 6 played a couple of nice shots including a glorious on-drive for 4 before the re-introduction of the Poms paceman Andy King saw Chunky depart.
At this stage Zulu and Curly were at the crease requiring about 30 runs off 6 overs with 4 wickets in hand. They batted sensibly, pushing ones and twos to bring the equation down to about 14 off 20 balls when disaster stuck. Curly attemped to pull a short one from Andy only to get a top edge straight into his face. With blood streaming from a nasty gash on his top lip, the Embassy’s Anton enquired upon Curly’s health only to cop an accidental spray of Curly’s claret over his whites. Umpire Robert was showing great concern his Curly’s health but Curly is from Melbourne you see, so a bit of claret on the pitch wasn’t going to stop him pushing for a Wombats victory. After being taped up, Curly faced up again and coped another short ball which he pulled away for a couple of runs – great courage mate. He followed that up with smoking pull shot the following over which raced away for four runs.
In between all of this, Zulu had been run out in a mix up with left both batsman at the same end (not for the last time) with Curly’s final words to Zulu being “You’re gone!!”. Luke Ray then chipped one straight to cover and was caught. Spacey got his wish and was moved up to number 10 but was soon sent packing caught behind. With one over left, the Wombats needed 3 runs for victory with one wicket in hand. Curly played a dot ball and then scored a single. Reggie, looking very solid, then pushed one behind point for another single. Scores tied. Three balls left, Curly on strike, was this going to be a fairytale finish. Well, unfortunately the answer was NO!! Curly defended the fourth ball. The fifth ball was played to backward point and in Curly’s words, this is what happened: “Batting with Reggie, I asked him to back me up, which he did. I’d called ‘Yes’ instead of ‘Wait’ and by the time the ‘NO!!’ belatedly came, he’d come down so fast that there was no turning back!!”
The Embassy boys made hard work of the run out but eventually the bails were whipped off and the game was declared a tie with Curly on 18 not out. Robert informed us within 30 seconds of the finish that this was the first tie in the history of the KCL. It was a fitting result to a match played in great spirit. In a top quality match, every player was involved with either the bat or ball. Thanks to the British Embassy boys for the game and to Robert for umpiring. This game was a great prelude to the big HARDYS ASHES contest to be played on the 25th June which should be another cracker match.
The awards were handed out with Andy King receiving the British Embassy’s best player award for a couple of top bowling spells and Curly receiving the play of the day award for his gutsy effort and copping five stitches on his top lip.