- Match Report
WOMBATS’ BALLS BOUNCE KYTES IN PACIFIC CUP BOWL OFF!
by Ian Gason
Cricket is a funny game. Its players a quirky bunch, the world’s most suicidal sportsmen. Pre-game routines are an untouchable ritual, each peculiar to the individual: A pie and a durry for Warnie. A change-room Thomas Tank for John Inverarity. A few last minute phone calls for Hansie. Sleeping on the footpath for Smoker. Cramming 11 farting lads into a 10-seater van at Harajuku for me.
Pre-game routines were severly disprupted Sunday and the result was a most unusual Wombats’ unit and an unusual day’s play at the immaculate Abegawa Cricket Ground, ultimately won by the Wombats.
The 8-seater Nissan was an unwelcome departure from the tried and tested. Waiting at Harajuku, five Wombats enjoyed the spectacle of two chest-puffing homeless pretending they might throw a punch. Meanwhile in Nishi-Koyama, super-snorer Ross’s pre-game routine was shattered when the batteries in all of his 78 alarms carked it. So 4 fit and 1 injured Wombat Tomei bolted, and were joined at the ACG by 6 other Wombats, 3 of whom had a pre-game routine that involved being Japanese.
Our foe and hosts, Shizuoka Kytes were also in unfamiliar territory, with a fair number in absentia, 1 in liquor induced dimentia, and 2 new J-lads rounding out the X. (No, not the XI.)
A maiden 50 last week, a first over duck this week, as Morty was cleaned up by Kytes skip, Matt Sharpe. Master and apprentice, as Jarrad joined national opener Shun Hashiba. The bowling was as mean spirited as Kevin Andrews and as tight as Donald Bradman. Kytes were giving nothing away, and it took almost 20 excrutiating overs to inch past the 50 mark. In March we’d racked up 290.
Young national spinner Mura-ken dominated the batsmen. Eventually he bowled bowled Jarrad (20-odd) around his legs. Despite the rattling noises and leaning timber, the bamboozled Sandgroper protested his disbelief before departing.
Shun took this as an excuse to bitch slap Mura-ken, peppering the straight and leg boundaries, in a partnership of 42 with Robb Mann (4).
From 2-96 we slipped to 6-105, as Robb was bowled and Shun, Nakano and Chewie Hill were all run out. Our 2nd 50 at least took just 10 overs. Burkey slapped 18 and with a few more from the tail-enders we limped limply to 8/139 from our full compliment of 40 overs.
To compare defending 139 on the petite ACG to defending Kokoda against 20,000 highly trained Japanese commandos would be an exaggeration and an insult, but by crikey we had a fight on our hands, like the diggers did.
I got the campaign off to a decent start, with one of the most unusual first balls I’ve ever seen. 6 steps, trundle in, seam over, release, gun-barrel straight, not a hint of shwing. Nothing unusual about that. Meanwhile at the business end of the pitch, the batsmen took guard, tapped bat to toe, stared me in the eye. After completing his back-lift, he stopped. His bat remained inexplicably parallel to the ground, and the virgin cherry carressed his leg stump.
The Body, Alexander Koolhof (” 1 ‘f’ please”) took 3 overs to get a tick where it counts, inducing a 2nd false pull from national veteran Chino. A 2nd desperate shwipe at the bobbling ball was unsuccesful, and the off stump received the gentlest of nudges, the bail, like Chino, was removed.
Next over, Captain Perfect, Steven Burke dropped a regulation chance off me at slip. Two balls later, Captain Sharpey was cursing, “You’d think he’d have f***ng learnt from the first one,” when the same bat edged to safer hands of keeper Jarrad Shearer.
Kytes’ longest hair, M Stewart, his pre-innings bong-routine rudely interrupted took guard at 3-23, to be greeted by that terrible English blight on the game, sledging. Morty had the field in stitches with “C’mon Wombats, let’s have Jesus!!”
When eventually I had recovered enough to bowl, Jesus blasted me at Shun at cover, where he made an immaculate interception, parrying the ball upwards and then nailing the catch one-handed. Hardys Play Of The Day and I’m on a hat-trick.
Sadly Wombats still seek their first hat-trick, as Arbab Mohamad got his bat in the way of my yorker.
Captain Sharpey’s run a ball 20 ended when he padded on from oustide leg to be my 4th and final victim. He was particularly happy to look back and see it had hit middle.
Monster Morty got his first wicket since May in a superb 4 over spell for 8 runs. An unlikely victory beckoned, but 3 more wickets were needed. For the Kytes, 80 runs.
Arbab v Hagihara was a fight. Arbab sensed a few blasted boundaries could break the game open, and test our bowlers. In the face of repeated charges, Hagihara held his nerve and stuck at his game plan. After a change of ends, he broke the 20 run partnership, snaring Arbab in his 3rd over, and later got a 2nd.
Why Robert Mann was called at various times Axe, Shax, Max, Maxi and Tangles was of no concern to run-saving ground-hog Shun Hashiba, who backed the multi-named meat-man with calls of “Great bowling Maxi.” or Ax. Or Shax.
The appearance of Mura-ken at the crease induced a few multi-lingual sledges such as “Gambare Taku. My usagi, desho!” Despite this he combined with Larry for 20-odd, before being run out by Nakano with the score on 104, and the Wombats had retained the Pacific Cup.
The Sherrin made an appearance and the poms, locals, kiwis and sub-continentals all showed their lack of skills with the oval ball. Over a few quiet beverages, we drew the Melbourne Cup Sweep before heading over for some deep-fried grass (extra salty). Twas the briefest and quietest DFG shop session ever.
Tokyo-bound, half of my car fell asleep. The half empty eski was unchallenged, as me, Burkey, and Chuck had civilised coversations that didn’t involve (much) porn. The only marring of the day (besides Ross’s alarms) was a Johnny Holmes of a traffic jam. You didn’t have to be Bish to shouting FREAKS out the window as 3.86 million cars queued up for 75 kilometres in order to eat some oily bowl of crappy noodles. FREAKS!!
Thanks again to Sharpey and the boys for the day. Sorry we didn’t get you at full strength, but after the ordinary score we posted, maybe just as well! Next time, lads.
So ends a rippa of a season. As much as it has been a pleasure to play with and against all of yous, I look forward to packing up the whites, and packing on the kilos over winter.
Counting down to Chiang Mai, March 30.