- Match Report
WOMBATS DOWNED BY JAPANESE HOPEFULS
by Ian Gason
As proven when a team of barefoot unknown aboriginal footballers thumped Collingwood in Darwin, a champion team doesn’t always beat a team of champions, and so it wasn’t yesterday when a Japan XI team defeated the Tokyo Wombats in their selection trial match at Fuji Saturday. Many of the aspiring national players showed good strenth of character in their comfortable 6 wicket win.
Wombats’ day began smoothly enough with a prompt departure from Harajuku, then descended into the ridiculous, as the wagon then took over 2 hours to get as far as Yokohama….on the expressway. By the time of Grumpy Shearer’s first phone enquiry, we were still at Atsugi with 70 minutes to match time, and over 100 log-jammed clicks to go. Got to love O-bon. Still, it at least allowed us plenty of time to exchange new and avant-garde ideas on our favourite performing arts, penis puppetry.
Somehow we made it by sunset, by lunch time in fact, and after quick change and pep-talk, the usual suspects, Burke and Shearer went out to destroy the dreams of budding Japanese cricketers.
Unfortunatly, as the Ichihara contingent was still en route, 4 Wombats were subbing for the Robb McKenna XI when a run-less Dinosaur was thumping his way back to the pavilion. Having missed the dismissal, I can only report what I heard. “It wasn’t bad luck…..it was a shit shot…I’m a shit cricketer….I haven’t got a run all year….”
Dodging projectiles, Chuck made his way out, and knuckled down to enjoy the remaining 48-something overs. Burkey was swiflty moving things along, scoring 3/4 of the runs at least. Picking the gaps with centimetre-perfect placement, he caused some head scratching for the Japan bowlers. Amir proved Burkey’s undoing on 53 when induced a drive which the Big Vic dragged on. Zulu looked solid for a while as he joined the circumspect skip and kept things moving slowly.
The Freak Luke Ray followed Zu, and justified his bumping up the order. Although beaten many times outside the off, he was solid and respectful to balls on line, and played the ball along the ground in his vital partnership with Chuck (48). Though he added just 11, he occupied the crease through the middle overs, putting paid to Biju Paul 3 bats only/Violet Crumble theory. Reggie Dawson came in on my cartwheeling dismissal, played a few big shots before he was replaced by debutant Kyal Hill. The stocky Queenslander took the axe to the bowlers, playing some gutsy hooks and stuff and he whacked a quick-fire quarter century to give the Wombats total a bit more defendability. 186 shouldn’t have troubled the nations best cricketers, but how they went about the task would give the selectors a good insight into the make-up.
The 2 openers were a contrast. One played as if it was a 20 over game at Koiwa, the other, J-keeper Chino had done the maths: 50 overs, 187 runs, 3.f*all, head down, you know it makes sense. So too the Wombats openers were a contrast. The weaver of magic, Luke Ray, lobbed and dobbed from one end, and came away with more dots than a teenagers face. 10 years of rust hampered debutant Scott Ada, who huffed, puffed, spattered and sprayed from the longest Wombat run-up since Birdman.
One Scott over bled 20-odd runs, but the skip held faith, and was rewarded when the swinging opener skied a hook to the steady hands of Reggie Dawson. The brought out the boy from Kobe, Dave Gleeson, who in two seconds flat was told to go back to Wagga Wagga. The Wagga jibes bounced off the lad, who teamed up with Chino-san for the match winning partnership. He restrained himself when confronted with the Ray dobblies, and was up to the task when Reggie and myself were called upon to knock down his fibro-shack. Even Zulu’s confused battle cry of the Angry Sanchez (Marty, you’ll know) couldn’t distract him. Probably the only thing lacking in his cricketing repetoire is a job in Tokyo for next year.
Wombats encircled Chino as drinks approached, and kindly helped him count down the balls, reminding him what a shame it’d be to get out now. He obliged with a prod to silly-somewhere, but Zoo’s hands were too slow to close on the ball, and he’d won the battle. Reggie Dawson did get the Boy from Wagga when Jarrad held on to a beauty down low to his right. So good we even gave the ‘shit cricketer’ a bottle of Hardys for it.
Next ball was hit back to Killer Kelly at extremely short mid-wicket, there was no Golden Duck, as he spilled a sharp chance. Somewhere along the line a wicket fell, and a big hitting Man In Green came out, forcing the skip to drag me in the midst of my duel with Chino. Yeah, the skip got the stare, but justified the call. The MIG played some foolhardy hoiks, and earned himself a skipper’s spray. “Crayfish!! You’re a crayfish. We’ve seen it before, so it doesn’t suprprise me….but how can you play a shot like that with the national selectors looking on??” Maybe we do need a Louie The Fly Spray of The Year Award after all?
Anyway, let’s cut to the BBQ……Killer Kelly got the crayfish with a full toss. Amir smeered a few into the weeds, where The Freak and then Zulu engaged on a primary school style game of stacks-on-the-mill. The umpire called for a ball up, and play re-started in the centre square. Amir won the ball from middle and played it away to boundary to seal the match. Japan XI winning in 40 overs, with 6 wickets in hand.
No soooner than the players had shaken hands Robb McKenna was hollering “Cold Pies! Hot drinks!” as he was teaching not only cricket, but cricket fund-raising fundamentals. No chook raffle this time, but plenty of cold bevvies and some damn good snags. All in the name of J-cricket of course, but some fat wombat put away at least 4 of ’em. The BBQ was beaut, as all barbies are, giving blokes from Chiba, Tokyo, Shizuoka and Kansai a rare chance to shoot the shit.
Dark was well and truely upon us when we made for Chuck’s favourite combini. A quick stocking of a very broken eski, a romantic roadside serenading of 4 sheilas, and the wagon was away, with its passengers not quite nine sheets to the wind, but not far off. Onto the Tomei and into the highlights, and nearly every single one wasn’t actual cricketing prowess. The spray, Luke’s nut-catching, Burkey’s assesment of his boundary, stacks-on. Nothing boring like, “ooooh in the 12th over, Freddie got one to go Irish and cut off the seam. A better batsmen would’ve hit that!”
Everyone seemd to cop a bit, and were well toasted and the result was a particularly bousterious back seat. Killer Kelly again topped the Slack Bladder Poll for most requests for a piss stop. A fair bit of remonstration and eski battering took place and by the time we pulled into Shinjuku, Killer was bluer than an 8-armed India god and begged to be let out and left.
The sight of English rain on Pete’s computer screen never looked sweeter, as Warnie and Dizzy cooled their heels in the Old Trafford rooms. The Gods have a sense of humour over there, as the rain stopped just long enough for Ol’ Iron Gloves to give Warnie a life, Warnie to smack Wheelie Bin and avoid the follow on, and then to start raining again. Gotta love it.