- Match Report
WOMBATS TOP OF CROP AS GIANTS FLOP
by Ian Gason
A superb all round effort by The Tokyo Wombats saw them defeat 4-time champions Giants at Fuji Sunday, sealing the Minor Premiership and setting up a semi-final with Indian Engineers. Such was the dominance of the Wombats 4-pronged bowling attack that perrenial run machine Steve Burke’s 70 not out barely rated a mention in Man Of The Match match discussions.
The showdown began in the carpark of our favourite Fuji combini, where Giants and Friends had also stopped to re-supply. Chuck’s suggestion that we make like Port and The Crows was ignored, and by 10 we were at the ground and ready to rumble, on the pitch.
A pesky blade of grass propped the coin up at a 10 degree angle, and Giants skip insisted on a re-toss. Our skip, who had only had one good toss all year, managed to land the Y500 the right way up again, and invited the Giants to have a bat. This was a bold piece of skippery, sending in a team famed for scoring 300+ regularly, but with Courtney Jones, you don’t die wondering.
His pre-gamer was another beauty, imploring us to relax, play our game safe in the knowledge that we had qualified (events on Fuji #2 showed this actually wasn’t the case!) and that the defending champs were under pressure, needing 2 from 2 to scrape into the finals. Heap it on ’em, keep reminding the batsmen, never relent was the message.
Duely charged, Rayos and myself opened the attack, and within the space of a few overs, Wombats had had more chances than the Port Adelaide forward line, and about as mush success as the Kangaroos’ defence. Edges, pops, dabs, schwings, frenchies. You name it, the Giants bats had chanced it. One bouncer I sent down was hooked blindly and top edged over ‘keeper Jarrad’s head, and came down within kissing distance of the rope.
Their luck ran out when Rayos and Jarard combined in the 5th to start what would become a procession. Giants got a big break when Kyal Hill put down a chance off me at point, but to his credit he blocked the blemish from his mind and held two good catches in succesion. The first was a replay of the miss, and with a bit of a fumble held the ball Smoker-style, around the gonads.
Not long after Burkey held one at slip to give The Freak his second, Rayos would become Krayos for bagging himself 3 top-order crayfish. Deep in cow-corner Hamburger Hill claimed his second catch of the day, holding onto to a high slog-sweep.
Four down, not a lot on the board, the champs were looking to consoldate, the challengers looking for that knock-out blow. Two seasoned campaigners were at the crease and represented Giants’ best chance at salvation. Mumtaz, the skip, veteran of Japan cricket, and Kamal, a former Bangladesh A player, both had the potential to turn the match on its head.
The meassge from our skip was clear: don’t give up, keep at ’em, target their captain. Every innings has a partnership of sorts, and this was probably going to be it. Keep the heads up, keep the talk up, and bowlers keep the pressure on.
When Chuck moved up into a very silly leg position, Kamal advised he might want to stand a bit further from the bat, but our man would have none of it. Chuck was in the firing line of anything short down leg, and Rayos let a short one go down leg. The batsmen swung and missed, and the fieldsman was at him a a flash, “Mate, I’m still here.”
Krayos magic-weaving spell would come to a dramatic end, as Mumtaz’ class came out. 20 runs bled from the Tassie’s final over. Mumtaz’ straight six landed 7 rows back, deep in the jungle. Chuck spotted a spider the size of a dinner plate, and abandonded the search. Killer Kelly knew no fear and went head-long into the 12 foot weeds. The human ferret wasn’t going to give up this ball for dead, as it had yielded 4 wickets and given up almost none of its shine. As more sensible Wombats mulled over chemical defoliation and whippa-snippers, a voice was heard, “I’ve got it! Oh, hang on, no I haven’t……no, yeah I HAVE got it!”
Reggie was operating from the scoreboard end, sending down a fiery few overs. Killer Kelly was asked to ferret out a wicket at the carpark end, and he soon came up the goods. As the pair were starting to pile on the runs, Cap’n Jones out thought the batsmen, and Killer executed the plan to a T. Chuck pulled The Freak out of 3rd man, partly to sweep the off-side fence, but also it invited Kamal to dab through the now vacant region. Next ball, the Bangladeshi did just that, dabbed away, but only succeeded in nicking it into the gloves of a lunging Dino.
Captian Mumtaz was beginning the cut a lonely figure, as the Wombats now looked to go in for the kill. Reggie almost had his first when a hook went skyward but didn’t carry. He wouldn’t have to wait long though, as a desperate batsmen let his captained down with an adventurous drive that saw his castle re-arranged.
If that drive was adventurous, then what transpired in the next over was positively Byron Pickett. As Mumtaz looked on, he was running out of partners, and asking for someone to put up thier hand. There were no takers. Killer simply sent the ball down at the stumps and the batsmen did the rest. Front foot moves away to on-side, big swing across the line and the stumps ended up pretty much like Pickett did on that ill-fated morning: all over the turf.
In the space of 20 overs Wombats had reduced the once-feared club to 7/126 at drinks. Still a long way to go, the skip and me set ourselves a target of 150, and I would re-commnce proceedings at the car-park end. 8 balls later, the innings was over.
The batsmen had pulled my 2nd ball for 2, with the benefit of watching, so naturally, I invited him to enjoy another short ball. He obliged, but top edged it, way, way up. The ball went to Dave O’ at mid-wicket, but went so high that the batsmen trotted through for one, and were actually leaning on their bats when it came down. I would struggle to remember a ball going so high, but Dave was rock steady, calmed his nerves with quick ciggy, and watched the ball come down safely in his hands.
I continued round the wicket to left hander Mumtaz, and with the first ball I’d sent him all day found his edge, and Burkey did the rest, two grabs at a sharp chance moving to his right. Mumtaz’ 50 runs gave their scorecard some credibility, but with him went the last hope of a challenging target.
On a hat-trick to the number #11, the Y10,000 ball. Chuck called the field, “where-ever you are, just come right in.” In a moment I will treasure, I looked up from shining the ball to see I was bowling to FOUR slips! Over the wicket to the rightie, and he managed to French cut my hat-trick ball and deny me.
Reggie Dawson mopped up at the scoreboard end, castling the last man. Giants all out 130 in 21.2 overs.
Kiwi Dave O’ was promoted to open with Burkey, and did a superb job. Kamal opened the bowling, and with his long run, and long hair the comparison to Akhtar were obvious. Perhaps the openers sensed this, and set about carefully wearing him down. By the time Dave was removed mid way through the session, the bowler was losing steam and slowing down.
Burkey copped one body blow from the Bangladeshi, but soon landed his own, when he hooked him over the rope in his 2nd. With a target of 3 an over, the pair set about building a base from which to launch the attack. Burkey survived one stumping chance when the ‘keeper Ge-rainted him a life. Dave O’ had seen off the opening spinner, and was wittling away Kaml’s energy reserves. Just as he was finding his feet and scoring freely, Kamal gave him the slower ball. Sensibly resisting the temptation to belt the f**k out of it, he tried to stroke it away down leg, but instead popped a simple chance to square leg.
9 wickets, 30 overs, 100 runs. Enter Chuck Jones. The Burke-Jones combination has been a fruitful one this year, and again they put on a show. Not a lot of fire-works before the drinks break, at which point we were just keeping up with the run-rate, at 1/71. A further 60 runs still left Giants with a chance, but these two were in no mood to give them a sniff. Even one wicket would give them some hope, so with so few to chase, why give them any?
After the break, Giants were quiet. Heads were down, appeals stifled, the psychological battle had been won. Both teams knew whose game it was, and so the boys seized it. Both men loosey-gooseyed, and the runs started to flow. Burkey raced past 50, possibly with a disdainful stroke from a spinners first ball, dispatched over cover for 6. Chuck was feeling in a calypso mood, and took on any ball going down leg. He didn’t always connect, but when he did he gave it the full treatment, swatting them away to the fence.
The Vic pierced the off side field time and again, leading both the sweeper and third man on fruitless chases. The Sandgroper’s stroke of the day was a forcing shot off the back foot, punched to the long boundary. What made the stroke was the way he stood and looked at the ball, cos even with his back to us on the boundary we could tell what Chuck was thinking: don’t bowl that shit to me.
The Wombats soon had victory, in 31 overs, by 9 wickets.
Full credit to the Giants, who have had a Brisbane-esque run at the top, with 4 straight KCL triumphs. After the game, they were gracious in defeat, and wished us the best for our finals. Mumtaz was the clear winner for their Hardys Best on Ground. Dave O”s holding the mile-high catch won him Best Play. Luke Ray’s dibbling of the Giants top order earned him the Hardys Man Of The Match, for the second game in a row.
Meanwhile on Fuji #2, Millenium were chasing Friends’ 280 for a final’s berth. As there was no beer left, we didn’t see the end, but along the Tomei we received a call from Mumtaz, informing us they had knocked it off. Such was the early finish that we had the weird sensation of doing the game highlights in day light! Gerard Brady, who had done an excellent job officiating was given a ride back to Tokyo, and a glimpse inside The Van, to see the world through Wombat eyes. I just hope he doesn’t think we always get back to The Clubhouse by 8 o’clock!