- Match Report
Wombats Choke on Wyvern Pies
by Richard Bracefield
It was a typical July scorcher with barely a wisp of cloud overhead, denying any relief from the relentless Sano sun. Beads of sweat were dripping off brows and drenching shirts before players had even dropped their kit bags to the ground. Nonetheless, the moist coalition of Wombats were eager to play and even had the energy for a pre-game net! For the first time this season, the Wombats would be playing on the #1 ground at SICG, live streamed online, against the vulnerable but unpredictable Wyverns.
There was a mixture of trepidation and excitement amidst the Wombats camp. Confidence was high coming off a two-game winning streak; however could that form continue without perennial run scorer, Alex Patmore, and the menacing pace and ball striking of all-rounder, Zubair Bappi? Rex Kobayashi-Boulter was given the nod to bat at first drop following his “allegedly” blistering form in the Japan Cup, while “experienced debutant”, Duncan Barker slotted in at 4, and lethal weapon Abu “call me Hassan” Bakar was promoted up to the 5 spot.
The Wyverns were fresh off a bad defeat to the Chiba Sharks, failing to chase down a poultry 137. Sensing an opportunity to expose any residual fragility among the Wyverns, Wombats Skipper, Mohammad Ali won the toss and opted to set a score for the Wyverns to chase.
When you win the toss, bat. If you are in doubt, think about it, then bat.
If you have very big doubts, consult a colleague – then bat.
– W.G. Grace
Opening together for the first time, Richie Bracefield and Mohammad Ali started positively despite some tight bowling by Wyverns pace men, Kubota and Wakuta. Ali looked the more assured of the pair, showing Root-like touch guiding the ball down to third man and rotating the strike well. Meanwhile Bracefield batted belligerently, looking to punish anything short or over-pitched to the leg side fence. The pair quickly cruised to a 70-run partnership after 11 overs before Ali knicked off to a full one from Wakuta for 17 (25). In disbelief at the raised finger, Ali held his ground, convinced there had been no contact with his bat. Regrettably, the Penguins were unanimous and Ali could only shake his head in disgust as he walked off the field.
The only time an Australian walks is when his car runs out of petrol.
– Barry Richards
Ali’s dismissal was the start of a match defining collapse for the Wombats, as Bracefield holed out a few balls later for 42 (45), followed quickly by Rex Kobayashi-Boulter 2 (7), and Abu Bakar 0 (2). The seemingly commanding position of 70/0 at 11 overs had quickly morphed into a galling 76/4 at 14. The experienced old heads of Duncan Barker and Ashley Canning closed up shop and reset, stopping the torrent of wickets. However, the pair quickly found themselves in a hole, struggling to find runs from some tight bowling by Oki, and tempting off-spin pies by Buddhika. Something had to give, and sure enough, Barker’s resistance finally yielded when he flayed at a wide ball but only managed to guide it to the man at cover.
The pies kept on coming, and… gobble gobble, like a randy Wombat on a chocolate éclair, the middle order looked to cream everything. With plenty of time to spare and just a handful of wickets in hand, the Skipper repeated the same message to each Wombat before they strode out to the middle – “stay in, let’s bat the 40”. Unfortunately, Ali would quickly learn that captaining a club cricket side is like being in charge of a cemetery – lots of people underneath you, but no one is listening.
Rasika Ethugala, having doused himself in a full bottle of water before heading out, quickly returned to the tent after a vicious slog sweep that went straight up, 0 (4). Even the patient Canning, having done all the hard work, lofted a drive for an easy catch to deep mid-on for a hard fought 14 (41). At 116/7 after 27 overs, the Wombats were reeling and looking to their tail for a miracle. Meanwhile, the Wyverns, smelling blood, brought back their pace-man Kubota for the kill, while the wily old fox, Buddhika, continued serving up the pies from the Tea Room end.
Satyam Singh gave the Wombats a glimmer of hope of salvaging a respectable total, slaying bad balls and even plying a few lavish sweep shots to get the scoreboard moving again. However, he was finally also undone by Buddhika’s off-spinners, bowled for 17 (22) – Buddhika’s 4th and final wicket for the match. Satyam returned scratching his head again after yet another dismissal at the hands of a spinner – “Why can’t I play spin!”. After carefully putting away his camera, Robb Zloc picked up his bat and played a circumspect knock, looking solid in defense against the Wyverns’ heat before being castled by a Starc-like toe crusher from Kubota for 8 (16).
It came down to our final pair, Joe Lewis and Ashfaq Muhammad. Would “Mighty Joe” come to the party once again? Or would it be Ashfaq’s turn to show us another reserve pull? Lewis showed good resilience, denying the Wyverns bowlers for several overs with a series of leaves and forward defenses. Tragically, even reliable Joe could not get started, knicking off to the whippy action of Oki for 1 (23). The Wombats all out for 135 in the 35th over.
Despite the low total, the Wombats had reason to hope for another Wyverns collapse. However, we would require something special early to get through the Wyvern’s opening pair of Kimura and Miyauchi for any chance of sparking another Wyverns capitulation. Ashfaq started wayward, but quickly found his lines and looked menacing, particularly to the left-handed Kimura. Rasika Ethugala opened from the other end and used his pace variations well to keep the opening pair tied down.
Both bowlers beat the bat on numerous occasions, but occasional bad balls and extras kept the Wyverns score ticking along. A key chance finally came before the end of the power play when Ashfaq drew a genuine edge from Kimura, only for Ash Canning to drop it cold. A tough day at the office for his first time keeping in a JCL match. Faces fell deep into hands. Could that have been the pivotal moment?
Buoyed by his second chance, ex-baseball star Kimura quickly shifted gears and began bombing sixes and fours off the Wombats’ spin attack. No slouch, Miyauchi was also in the runs, quick to pull anything short from the spin-heavy bowling attack. The breakthrough would finally come in the 14th over, with leg-spinner Robb Zloc (3ov, 22/1) bamboozling Miyauchi with a quicker ball, shooting under his defenses and crashing into middle stump, 89/1 from 14. The departure of Miyauchi for 44 (51) didn’t slow down Kimura who continued to ride his luck, swinging so hard that even edges were flying for 6’s.
Changing tack, Ali reintroduced Ashfaq to the attack. He was immediately vindicated. Shifting around the wicket, Ashfaq used the wide angle and his pace to cut straight through Kimura’s defenses, the poles cartwheeled everywhere as Ashfaq (6ov, 45/1) let out a roar heard back in Tokyo. A bit too late however, as the destructive duo had done the damage. The Wyverns needing just 33 runs from 25 overs with 8 wickets still in hand. Hashimoto and Kawashima patiently chipped away at the remaining deficit despite disciplined bowling by Ali (5.2ov, 25/0) and Rasika (7ov, 33/1) eventually getting home in the 23rd over to take a valuable bonus point win. A disappointing loss for the lads who had been improving week by week after a painful start to the season.
Wyverns win by 8 wickets.
|Tokyo Wombats CC vs Wyverns CC|
|Japan Cricket League 2022 (Div. 1), SICG 1, Tochigi, July 9, 2022|
|Result||Wyverns won by 8 wickets|
|TWCC MoM||R Bracefield|
|Tokyo Wombats CC Innings: 135 (34.1 overs)|
|R Bracefield||c S Kimura b Y Wakuta||42||45||5||2||93.33|
|M Ali*||c W Miyauchi† b Y Wakuta||17||25||1||0||68.00|
|R Kobayashi||c K Kubota b O Nanayakkara||2||7||0||0||28.57|
|D Barker||c S Kimura b T Oki||4||17||0||0||23.53|
|A Bakar||st W Miyauchi b O Nanayakkara||0||2||0||0||0.00|
|A Canning||c T Oki b O Nanayakkara||14||41||1||0||34.15|
|S Singh||b O Nanayakkara||17||22||2||0||77.27|
|R Ethugala||c Y Wakuta b W Miyauchi||0||4||0||0||0.00|
|R Zloc||b K Kubota||8||16||1||0||50.00|
|J Lewis||c S Hashimoto† b T Oki||1||23||0||0||4.35|
|A Muhammad||not out||0||3||0||0||0.00|
|Extras||(b 1, lb 5, w 24, nb 0)||30|
|Fall of wickets|
|1-70 M Ali, 2-72 R Bracefield, 3-74 R Kobayashi, 4-76 A Bakar,
5-87 D Barker, 6-114 A Canning, 7-116 R Ethugala, 8-118 S Singh,
9-134 R Zloc, 10-135 J Lewis|
|Wyverns CC Innings: 136/2 (22.2 overs)|
|W Miyauchi*||b R Zloc||44||51||7||0||86.27|
|S Kimura||b A Muhammad||48||34||4||4||141.18|
|S Hashimoto||not out||16||27||2||0||59.26|
|M Kawashima||not out||17||24||2||0||70.83|
|Extras||(b 0, lb 1, w 8, nb 2)||11|
|Fall of wickets|
|1-89 W Miyauchi, 2-103 S Kimura|
- Rex – ball that went up into space and back, never seen a ball go so high. Pity it was off a no-ball!
- Ash – nominated himself for not getting a glove to a snick behind
- Satyam – Why can’t I play spin!
Great Moments in Sport
- Joe – channelling his inner Jamie Payne, trying to stubbornly make the opposition bowl all 40 overs with an almost heroic 1 off 23!
- Richie with some big 6’s and yet another top score