- Match Report
WOMBATS MAKE IT TWO IN A ROW
by Ian Gason
In an eventful day both on and off the field, The Tokyo Wombats chalked up win number two, knocking over Friends on a pearler of a day down at Fuji. Wombat bowlers, lead by the Saitama Set, Reggie and Jammer, dismissed Friends in 28 overs for 127, and the game was won for the loss of just one wicket.
An uncharacteristically prompt arrival allowed the lads to get in a bit of pre-game net practise, and was only marred by my bogging of The Wombat Wagon. After driving the boys right up to the ground, the only place wide enough to hang a U-ie was a black, murky, muddy puddle. An attempted 8-point turn had me stranded sideways across the road, wheels, spinning, mud flying, and like a true born and bred city-slicker, digging deeper. With the rest of the team preferring a good laugh to a helping hand, I had to soldier on. The Bush Tucker Man I am not, but a roll forward, followed by a rock backwards, repeated 100 times or more, and eventually I escaped my first brush with death for the day. You can walk from the car park next time, fellas!
Slightly more predictable though is Cap’n Chuck’s tossing deficiencies, and Friends chose to have a bat. The first over was a real Bill Lawry Its All Happenin Here kind. 10 runs, including 2 boundaries, and a wicket. On the last ball of my over, Friends’ opener hooked at a short ball, but top-edged the ball high over slip. Running with the flight of the ball towards the boundary, Mr Equipoise Papa Burke took a gem of a catch, and also wrapping up the Hardys Play Of The Day with 474 balls of the match to go.
At the River End, it was SS Jammer’s turn to toil without reward, his pace and movement too much for their bats to handle. Even Friends captain and seasoned campaigner Naeem struggled to come to grips with him. He beat the bat so often that one Wombat remarked “He needs a bigger bloody bat!”. The edge never came, but Jammer jammed through the gate to remove a stubborn number 3.
Meanwhile, my pain was to be more phsyical than mental. Despite having last week stressed to Chunky the need to get side-on when fielding, I ignored my own advice. The batsman drove one back at me (thankfully not that firmly) and in a moment of confusion, I found myself fielding it front on. With all the grace and co-ordination of a baby giraffe taking a drink, I grasped at the ball unsuccesfully, and copped 156 grams of leather smack bang on the end of me plonker. With my eyes bulging out like a manga character, the game was delayed while I made screwed up faces and screwed up noises. To rub salt into the wound, when I did manage to hobble 6 steps through and bowl, the batsman drove me through the vacant mid-off region and I had to chase it to the fence!
Naeem had evaded the double gully set-up and I was relieved, so to speak. Reggie took over and the tussle continued. A run of dots would be punctuated by a boundary, as the 2nd wicket again eluded us. A few fielding misses on the unforgiving outfield helped pad Friends account. One cut shot got passed a diving point, bounced passed Chuck’s backing up, and a triple Harbour Bridge was completed by Killer Kelly on the fence for the funniest four you’ll ever see.
Reggie worked hard and eventually got his reward. Naeem had missed a number of drives, but got one out of the middle for six, only to try the same shot again next ball. A cartwheeling middle stump was his reward, and Reggie again had the key wicket. 60-odd on the board, the game would now swing the Wombats way. Reggie put a shudder through Smokin Pete’s bank balance when he snared two wickets in two balls, but the Y10,000 hat-trick did not come.
With Reggie’s gutting of the Friends’ innings, wickets came regularly. Killer Kelly started with two wides, which tempted the batsman to chase the next one, which he skied straight to The Freak at point. A second chance to the same man in the same over was mis-judged, but no harm was done as he soon picked out the wrong man, S.S. Jammer. The Whyalla Warrior was back at the River End, and picked up his first Div One wicket. Jamjars also featured in the 9th wicket when he wisely ignored my calls of “bowler” and threw to Jarrad to complete a run out.
Jarrad it should be noted was jumping around like John Dyson backstage and had already saved the Wombats a score of extras when he held onto an edge off my bowling to close the innings on 127, after taking drinks with the score at 5/94.
The ask of 128 was both gettable and defendable, but the Wombats camp was in a confident mood at lunch. With the grand old man, Fuji-san in full view behind us, we kicked off our shoes, pulled up a pew and enjoyed. We were treated to a batting display of rare beauty from Steve Burke. A second ball scare when he slashed hard over slip for 4 was the only chance he gave as he and Jarrad dominated the Friends bowling, quickly putting the result out of doubt.
Though not quite the Highlight Hog that Burkey is, our Dinosaur’s quiet but steady contribution to the partnership should not be forgotten. His anchoring of the innings, as always, gives Papa the foundation on which to build his. And how he does build! Always in control, never ruffled, Burkey had our skip reaching for the superlatives in a dig which Chuck described as the best he has had the pleasure to watch. Friends, like so many teams before them, had no answer. One over yielded 16 runs. A single turned into 5 on overthrows, a common and garden variety 4, and a truely uncommon six, cut high over the gully into the baseball field.
The partnership was broken only by a sympathy Leg-before, going against the luckless Jarrad (14), his disappointment manifesting itself in the form of airborne gloves and a few choice words. Our opposition showed no reluctance to appeal, LBs round the wicket, run outs that didn’t break the stumps, catches that hit the ground.
That would be Friends last moment of joy for the day, as Chuck (24*) and Burkey(74*) saw the Wombats home. Not content with one monster six before he went, Papa launched a hook shot over square leg that was still rising as it cleared the rope, and came down not far from the adjacent pitch. Chuck too had his moments, but his best was not with the bat. With the scores level, Burkey reached for a wide ball and spanked it through the covers. As the skip completed the winning single he turned to the Wombats bench, Lleyton Hewitted his fists and gave voice to his joy, “YEAH!! WOMBATS!!”
Friends skipper Naeem earned himself a Hardys Best On Ground for his 33 runs and tight bowling. Reggie, shooting to the top of the Wombats’ wicket table, took out Hardys Man Of The Match. By 2:30 the ceremonies were over and the opposition gone. With the sun out, Fuji in the background, the icey cold bevvies flowed, as many of the Wombats chose to stretch out on the grass. The Tomei could wait for once. A second slab was procured and by the time the sun set, we were well lubricated for a memorable return journey.
While a couple of attempts were made to widen the repetoire of songs (Cheap Wine) there is certainly room for improvement on that front. Full marks though to a large number of marsupials. Chuck Jones, in a move no sober man could ever pull off, was almost left stranded at the side of the road, pants around his ankles. In a moment of brilliance, he summed up the situation and leapt head-first through the window of the departing wagon.
This would not be the journey’s last masterstroke. The Wookie, who spent most of the traffic-jammed drive out the window, opened the door, did a running start and a several hundred meters of post-game jogging down the centre lane. His piece de resistance was to grab a ride on the bumper of a truck up ahead, and turn and wave to us all. SS Jammer wanted to whole Kanto region to feel his pride. “Hey! What about those Wombats?!” he called out to all and sundry. “www.tokyowombats.com!! Get yourselves a Wombats Showbag!” Reggie added that little something to proceedings, and his contribution on and off the field will be missed this Saturday as we take on British Embassy for the Hardys Tokyo Ashes. C’mon!