- Match Report
WOMBATS MASH BANGAS
by Daniel Mugen
The God of Cricket was smiling on the Saturday morning as the lads, bleary eyed and bushy tailed, made their appearances one by one at JR Koiwa to swap weekend action reports, trumpet imitations, Friday night footy scores and adult entertainment.
It was to be the first encounter with the Bangladeshis so there was curiosity and excitement in the air to mix with Nikka’s early morning bum rockets. More importantly though, the Wommies needed a victory to ensure a berth in the semi-finals, and not wanting to be vanquished again, the team to a man was keen to romp it in convincingly.
Burkey, aka Papa Smurf, was welcomed back into the fold, with a round of applause and handshakes after the birth of his daughter and the newest Wombat. Looking a little bleary eyed himself from his all-night vigils, Burkey was keen to get out there and get amongst it. Tugga was also back, this time sans coffee stains and security pillow, so once again we had managed to yield a strong side for the day.
Down at the ground, we were greeted by clear blue skies and a fresh gusterly off the river, which had Shacksey a little concerned during his preliminary pitch report. The Bangladeshi boys also had the Wommies a tad worried as it looked for a while that we’d be forced to play seven aside. Still, the numbers prevailed and after losing the toss, Captain Chuck was forced to send the boys out to the hot and sticky field to give the Banggas a batting lesson.
Curly and Nikka took the new four-piece, the field was set and it was game on. Now, for any of the unaccustomed readers out there, the Koiwa pitch is indeed an entity in itself. Any thing down the leg is automatically a wide，and with a stiff wind blowing from off, you know you’re gonna have to be tight as a fishes a/hole. The boys strived to find the spot, Curly doing so with Curly-esque accuracy. Nikka was not as lucky however, and despite a wheel barrow full of absolute peelers that had the openers wishing they’d worn their brown jocks, the Nikka was unlucky not to get a break. Mind you, all credit to the batsmen for occupying the crease as long as they did, despite an esky full of missed deliveries and dubious strokes that had the bowlers and in close fielders passing a variety of remarks about where for how much they could procure themselves a clue.
Despite Chucky’s words of warning, for a stint it seemed that the rumours of the Bangladeshi team’s non-competitiveness had made us slightly complacent. But after failing to dislodge the openers after 15 overs, and with the runs starting to come freely, the anxiety started to build and ‘equipoise’ bird flew the coup to be replaced by the ‘nervous tension’ buzzard. Emotions ran high as our efforts to crack the partnership failed to reap rewards, the exasperation abetted all the more by the batsmen’s unwillingness (or inability…) to play anything resembling sound stroke play bar sweep shots and leg glances.
Shacksey also had trouble making the openers dance as the batsmen stuck to their guns and managed to put a handful of balls past the cow-corner boundary. That’s not to say that he didn’t create chances, but when the ball was airborne it never quite managed to carry to a fielder. Richo had a crack as well but unfortunately his guts had other ideas.
Captain Chuck made what was to be an inspired decision to put Space, aka Auntie Mace, into the kitchen for a lesson on scone making. Before too long, the decision had paid off, the batsmen trying to pull Spacey on an uppish, offish ball only to be caught by the safe hands of Burkey in the slips (while all other interested parties were kept at bay by Smoker’s repeated shouts of ‘STEVES BALL’) with the score in the mid sixties for almost 20 overs.
All of a sudden, as is the beauty of cricket, it was like the Wommies constipation had been uncorked and a huge load had been dropped (and literally so after Dino’s quick trot to the rent-a-loo for a good session of porcelain punishment). The Wombat Juggernaut began to gain momentum. Earlier cries of frustration turned to what the Wommies do better than anyone else in the league: good ole’ (harmless) sledging. A handful of overs and scone analogies later and Space claimed his second victim: another catch, this time a top edge had Dino run out from behind ready to take out anyone that got in his way. But that wasn’t enough to satisfy ole Free Snake, and his tight spell of consistently straight bowling paid off, netting him 4 for 18 and leaving the Wommies in a commanding position because anything not going up the hill or into cow corner was not really going anywhere.
Axe Man aka X-Men was brought into the attack and, that’s right Chef, you picked it, the Tasmanian had another great day with the ball, claiming 4 wickets.
Curly, painfully accurate but as yet unrewarded bowling-wise, chipped in at mid-on with a fantastic piece of fielding: a quick pick up and direct hit solving the bickering batsmens’ troubles for them.
Smoker played an indirect although instrumental part in the next wicket, noticing that the partner of Curl’s run out victim had quietly returned to the non-strikers end, he called him on it, and sure enough, two balls later the Axe man sent in a Koiwa special to rearrange the furniture.
Richo was unlucky not to repeat the runout process with a sweet pick up and throw just centimeters from the sticks. (Although, in my book, not as sweet as his words of wisdom to the Bangas home-brewed Umpy on the ins and outs of calling a wide just because the batsman decides to rock off the back foot a good two feet outside leg stump).
Not long after, the batsmen belted a sky rocket towards the sun off one of Axe’s pills down to deep long on, where Curly, revved up from the whole team’s cries of ‘Cattcchit Curls!’, was so keen that he ran, no, sprinted, a good 15 metres past where the ball eventually landed. Not quite a Herschel but pretty mind boggling for the rest of us watching.
Curly was spared the cost of Axe’s beverage though when a few balls later, a sweet delivery gave Dino a chance to tally up another notch on his catch stats with a neat caught behind.
The Berkey soon made another entry into the stats in a big way with two more catches, one rocketing off the bat from Spacey’s delivery to be caught inches in front of his face, and yielding the first ever real slips catch in the history of Koiwa.
The next two batsmen for the Bangladeshis went against the grain when, contrary to their predecessors, proceeded to work the offside with a vengeance. Soon enough though, Ax struck again when the lingering opener tried to pull (surprise surprise) and poop-shot the ball high into the air to be claimed by the human rainbow Berkey at a shortish extra cover.
32 overs down and Curly was brought back into the attack. Yours truly was happy to help him get his first wicket of the day when the batsmen attempted to hammer one through point and I managed to take me nicest catch outside of the beach cricket arena.
Axe then went on to chop down the tail, assisted by Captain Chuck, coming in quickly to take a good, low catch at mid-wicket, thereby topping off his magic fielding on the boundary.
Overall, the Banngas had managed to score 153 of a little under 40 overs and the Wommies left the field in a pretty good spot.
After lunch, Richo and Dino made their way out to the middle for the showdown. A deafening appeal at Richo but a few balls into the inning had the Wombats feeling nervous, not so much for the chance of him being caught in front (coz there was none) but for fear that the Banngas planned to mimic their sub-continental neighbours’ habits of appealing for any bloody ball that got within a dog’s-bum sniff of the pads. Luckily, their home brewed Umpy (a player who found the time to don several other hats as square leg and on-field coach….at the same time) was replaced by Dave Davies who wasn’t ready to pay any wayward LB decisions.
Unluckily, and after a series of confident strokes, Rich didn’t get the chance to crack another top innings, as a short-pitched delivery managed to clip his glove on the way through to the keeper.
Burkey was up next and what followed was to be a cricketing lesson for all parties concerned. Together with Dino, the pair served up a bevy of cracking shots, well-placed singles, clever running and a six, care of Dino the ball before the drinks break. Before long, the records were dropping quicker than the limbs of a leper in a ceiling fan. All in all, the boys managed not only to garner the highest partnership for the league at 150ish runs, but also brought up their 50s in the same over. Great effort fellas.
With scores like that, and another fine knock by our good mate Johhny Extras, the boys pushed the team past the target for a scantily clad 22 overs, securing our spot in the finals and kicking off the start of a big night of partying for the Wommies.
The after match celebrations were topped off by a rowdy tabe & nomi hodai organized by Axe at a rooftop beer garden in Ginza. For the sake of any relatives or conservative parties reading this report, let me just say a good time was had by all (except the surrounding patrons) with a truck load of cold beer, lamb and laughs consumed, (and in the case of Space, brought back up…at five minute intervals…in fact the only thing not coming up for Space was his reg grundies or lack thereof as the female customers were treated to a side serving of pork sword to go with their lamb…).
Overall, the match was a good test for the Wommies and has no doubt added another coat of varnish to the super slick Wombats machine. Great effort blokes.