Max 86 - 78 TWCC

September 23, 2008 - 11:00 am at Fuji 1
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by Courtney Jones

Sport is a metaphor of life. Win at all costs; or is the way you play the game what matters in any endeavour? On Tuesday, September 23rd, the latter certainly played a part in the game result but above all Max C.C. outplayed the J1C premiers in the game we love. What began as a pleasant way to spend a sunny, warm public holiday turned into a soul-searching 9 run loss for the Tokyo Wombats in their Japan Cup debut game.

Harajuku departure was 7:20am and all Wombats looked like they’d prefer bed on a public holiday rather than drag themselves 120kms south to Fuji. Killer was off to a typically bright start as he answered the eternally perplexing question of why dozens of teenagers are always lined up across the street, even at 7 in the morning! First stop was the worse conbini in Japan, Fuji Lawson for the usual uninspiring fare. That place just reinforces my “eatin’s cheatin” mantra and thankfully a team decision was made to bypass it in the future for the 7-11 a bit further down the road. Next stop was to pick up Takumi from Shin-Fuji and finally Madan at Fuji station. The ground was wet and as lush as a Malaysian rainforrest with frogs and orangutans (well…maybe not orangutans but you get the picture) scurrying away from footsteps and wheelie bags as we crossed the ground.

Max won the toss and elected to bat which I thought was unwise because of the general wetness of the ground and the Wombats renowned run-chasing abilities. Luke opened the bowling and struck immediately thanks to Kyal’s safe hands at gully. Reggie took the new pill from the other end and bowled with good pace and control, however it was his opening partner who was doing all the damage, bamboozling the batsmen with flight and great control. Luke’s Tassie mate, Al, helped his compatriots cause no end with his stunning Boony impersonations. No, not drinking 55 cans in one sitting but taking brilliant close in catches. Al’s first catch was taken centimetres of the turf when he threw his right hand at a forward prod. His next classy act was to cut off a boundary with his shin. Japan National Team batsman Amigo blasts a cover drive and Al is actually screaming in pain before the ball’s reached his shin in anticipation of the agony to follow. I don’t think I’ve ever seen or heard such a flush connection between cricket ball and unprotected bone. Concerned Wombats gathered around to check his welfare and as we didn’t have any magic spray all we could do was stand around asking if he’s OK or not? I don’t know what it is about the human spirit in these situations but most had large smiles on their dials rather than looks of deep concern at our comrad’s anguished cries. Sorry Al! It was obvious it wasn’t life threatening and it was a missed catch after all…..

Revenge was what Al wanted and he got it soon after when he took another speccie catch just millimetres off the ground this time. Magnificent stuff and his exhaltations reminded me of Freddie Flintoff’s mid pitch, clenched fists “I’m pumped” efforts. Max 4-44. With Reggie and Luke bowled out, Killer and Kyal then continued the charge towards routing Max. Killer ripped out 3 batsmen in his first 14 balls, none more important than Amigo as an unadvised charge saw his leg stump go flying. “Don’t effing charge me!”x3 was Killer’s passionate outburst as Wombats swamped him. A quick end to the innings was now likely, especially with Kyal catching everything in gully. His third of the day was stunning in its casualness. An outside edge flies wide of Kyal who makes a perfunctory move to the fall of the ball, out goes his right hand and the ball sticks, all the while exuding an “I do this everyday!” smile on his face. Kyal got a late wicket, Killer finished with 4-22 and a runout ended Max’s innings on 86. A couple of dropped catches (perhaps a Herschelle nomination in there!) were our only blemishes on a very good Wombats fielding effort and 87 runs to win should present no worries……

When you are bowled out 9 runs short chasing 87, there’s obviously very few batting highlights. Luke, Alex and young Takumi tried their hardest with the bat but our inability to get any partnerships together or rotate the strike ultimately cost us the game on a unbelieveably slow out field. The following points illustrate how ordinary our batting was on the day. No Wombats reached double figures, only 2 boundaries scored in 37 overs, wides on 24 outscored our top 6 batsmen and other than GT, our team strike rate was around 20.00. Max on the other hand bowled and fielded magnificently. Apart from the wides, they bowled very few scoring balls. Combine this with an almost perfect effort in the field and excellent tactics and you have the reason why they proved too good for us on the day. Tainaka with 5-16 was the pick of Max’s bowlers. Japan National team gun bowler Hagihara 1-10 off 8 overs plus National team allrounder K. Kobayashi 2-15 off 8 proved that Japan cricket has a great future and that’s the way a result like this has to be looked at. If just 1 or 2 two of the youngsters in Max are inspired enough by their victory to get more passionate and involved in the great game then it’s a loss worth taking guys. To see Max’s wild celebrations and smiles really softened the blow of that loss. I’m sure they’ll take alot of confidence out of the win and hopefully now they believe in their abilities and can lift their game even higher. Congratulations Max!

Wombats, we’ve had a very successful season so a loss like that is a bit of karma catching up with us that’s all so let’s not dwell on the day we had. I think we all know we didn’t give enough respect to the opposition and didn’t adjust our batting to the conditions. Let’s learn and lift for our next game. Max is not the worst team in Japan to be beaten by!

It was just one of those days. No Maccas on the way home, the first conbini we went to had no alcohol and a rather bland van trip back to Tokyo. Even Killer was unable to answer how many kg’s of rice do you get out of a typical sized paddy? But he did say I’ll find the answer and get back to you. I like that.

Hardys Man of the Match

Mark Kelly
vs Max (Sep 23, 2008)
Mark 'Killer' Kelly takes 4/22 against MAX to win this week's Hardys' Man of the Match! Killer's figures displace TWCC president as the Wombat with the best ever bowling figures at Fuji #1.