- Match Report
WOMBATS ENGINEER GRITTY VICTORY
by Bjorn Pederson
On a day originally scheduled to be a J1C grudge match against Wombats’ nemesis Millenium, the Wommie van instead headed north over the distinctive bridge to Gunma for a match against the always entertaining Indian Engineers. In what was first mooted to be a semi-final of the Pacific Cup, it was instead decided to make it a friendly scratch match due to the inability of the Engineers to field a competitive side….(BJ: If this is their requirement for a Pac Cup game, will one ever go ahead?)
And what a memorable day it was on so many levels!
With a weather forecast predicting intermittent showers throughout the day, eleven Wombats, including three 2007 first gamers in Kyle, Rayos and new Wombat Jaideep “Bish” Bedi, assembled outside McDonalds at Takadanobaba under a blue sky just after 8am. Bish quickly called shotgun (BJ: not his last quick call of the day) and we were away.
However, it wasn’t long on the freeway until a heavy downpour dampened spirits and chances of play, and thoughts soon turned to the first beer of the day. To liven things up, Rayos, coming off an all-nighter (the Chiang Mai experience obviously paying dividends) regaled us with a story of getting chatted up on a train platform somewhere in Saitama only one hour previously by a Japanese school girl who “only wanted to speak English”, which just goes to show that dreams really can come true. After that, many Wombats were in a daze oblivious to the ever-improving weather conditions, and we were all pleasantly surprised when we arrived at Gunma to find a dry track and clear skies.
Stand-in captain Doc, taking the reins from Chuck for the day to give the latter a chance just to enjoy a game of cricket, proceeded to lose the toss, but we were nevertheless happy to be sent in by the Indians. This makes Doc 0 from 2 in tossing as captain, so Pup has offered to the job next time as the supreme tosser in the side. With usual opening combination Burke, who was in England, and Dino, who was at the sumo (although it was unsure whether he was competing or just watching), unavailable, Chuck and Morty faced the new ball, and it was soon obvious that batting was not going to be easy on a pitch with very inconsistent bounce. Still, the scoreboard ticked over at a respectable rate, helped especially by wides, including 10 wides in a row by the Engineers’ first change bowler. You would think that just by pure chance you would have to get one ball out of ten on the offside, but alas this Engineer was not having a “lucky” day.
Chuck and Morty did well in seeing off the new ball (with wides easily being the highest scorer), but just as the boys were looking to accelerate the scoring rate, Chuck was undone by a deceptively straight ball, having made a hard-fought 12. Out strode Rhino at number 3… and one ball later he was striding back….yorked for a golden duck and all of a sudden the Wombats makeshift batting order was looking decidedly wobbly.
This brought the newest members of the side, Chris “The Vicar” Mortimer and Bish together… and their partnership also brought us the first nomination for Dummy Spit of the Year. What is it with Gunma and run outs? Last year it was Doc and Dino, the year before that it was Dr Dave and Dino, but this year it’s the Vicar and Bish. Bish had moved to 2 when he squeezed a ball out through point and set off immediately with a call of “yes”. Morty, seeing the fieldsman a mere 3m from the ball, promptly called “wait” (although in hindsight “no” may have been more appropriate) and turned back towards the non-striker’s end…..but then Bish called “yes” again and kept running….and then it was a race to see who could get to the non-striker’s end first. Now normally in Christian circles, a bishop outranks a vicar, but in this case, Morty won the race back to the crease and Bish had to go, heralding some rather unsavoury words in Morty’s direction as he went. …I wont repeat them here, but safe to say they were the kind of words you wouldn’t hear in church, put it that way.
The rest of the innings was rather uneventful compared to that… except for one Reggie Dawson. After chewing the captain’s ear off before the game about how good his batting was and that he never got an opportunity blah blah blah (BJ: ;)), Reggie was promoted to number 6 and oh what a pleasure it was to see him blossom. While other batsman struggled, it appeared as if Reg had brought his own pitch, as he played every shot in the book on his way to his first fifty for the club. Given the conditions, it was an innings of epic proportions, with MOM Reggie the only Wombat to find the boundary (and clear it in one case), helping the Wombats amass a very respectable total of 156, given the pitch conditions and long grass in the field. Mention must also go to Morty who played a very patient and well-concentrated (?) innings of 28 off 31…..31 overs that is.
With a curry from the local Pakistani restaurant still nestling in our stomachs, the Wombats took to the field in the afternoon with the mindset not only to win the game, but also for everyone to have the opportunity to through down some cherries. Following a second ball yorker from Pup, a nice bit of flight bowling from Rayos and catch to Bish, and then a nice slips catch from Chuck, the Indians were soon in trouble at 3 for not very many. Dark clouds began forming overhead however, and it became a race against time to get the remaining 7 wickets before the heavens opened, which would obviously bring a halt to proceedings.
However, rain isn’t the only thing that seems to stop play in Gunma if you are an Indian….wind is!! Yes, believe it or not, the Engineer batsmen wanted to leave the ground because the wind was blowing too hard. So after much mid-pitch discussion, the umpire decided to call a halt to play while Cyclone Tracy blew in (BJ: in fairness, it was pretty windy, but I’ve never heard of a game being postponed for wind. But at least we know that we can now add wind to the acceptable reasons to leave the field).
It wasn’t long after this that it really did piss down, and the Wombats scurried to the warmth and dryness of the van for protection (including Morty, leaving his girlfriend alone in the elements with only an umbrella to defend herself with. Apparently she didn’t fancy a van full of Wombats, …the question is whether she will still fancy Morty after this too?).
When play resumed, the Indian middle order offered some stiff resistance as Wombats cycled through the bowling options, and they required a further 67 off 15 overs with about 5 wickets in hand at the last drinks break. But cometh the hour cometh the man as Hamburger Hill went about dashing any Engineer imaginings of victory. His first ball…, a full toss that luckily escaped the umpire’s call of no ball…, was skied by top scorer for the Indians (Sanjeeb) to The Body at deep square, who took a great catch. Two more wickets to Kyal wrapped up the game, with the Wombats being victorious by 15 runs. Given the fielding of previous games, all Wombats can be proud of their fielding efforts, with only 2 very difficult diving chances going down all day. Special mention also to the 3 stand-in keepers Doc, Chuck and Pup, with no byes being let through and no customary teapots being displayed.
The van trip back was largely uneventful (as has become the norm of late). Morty gave Bish a beer to bury any wounds from the day, and Al reinforced his Quote of the Week about being dextrous with his fingers, as he described some of his shower habits. All-in-all an unforgettable day, leaving the Wombats undefeated as they head to Kobe.