- Match Report
Wombats triumph in tight tussle
by Alex Koolhof
The Koalas and Wombats struck it lucky with the weather on May 20, waking up to a glorious day of sunshine with a forecast for the mid-20s. Koolhof rocks up to the Nippon Rentacar in Higashi Ginza and finds little Kenny Oiwa practising his golf swing in the foyer with a 9-iron…first WTF moment of the day. Actually, it was technically the second – the bloody Starbucks nearby was closed even though Google maps told me it was open at 6:30am. Spewing. Both vans were secured and driven over to the Dai-Ichi in Shimbashi where the Koalas were making their sleepy way down to the lobby – all decked out in their blue “on tour” polo shirts.
Yusry had provided two more cars for this memorable trip to Fuji, as two-10-seaters weren’t going to cut it – we needed to transport 32 marsups to the boonies – and one of the vehicles was already parked in the hotel carpark. Richie was the designated driver of this temp-plate automobile with the dodgy sounding brakes and squeaky carburetor (I don’t know much about cars, so I’m kind of guessing here – but it did make a god-awful sound!). Meanwhile in Yokohama, the Yoko Wombats were twiddling their thumbs (and probably sipping a nice strong double-shot tall black from 4-bucks, grrr) waiting for Yusry to arrive with the other clunker – but word is he came quite late. Obviously he failed to meet his KPI of 140km/hour on the way over to the morning meeting spot, a speed he so famously boasted about the evening prior. Yuzzy is now doing his best to shake off his new stupid, but sticky, nickname of Mr. 140.
Off we went onto the Shutoko. First casualty of the day came pretty quick tho – Richie and Vik were following some phantom grey coloured van just like the other two and woops-a-daisy, they exited the highway after 5 minutes. That would cause some delay – but they finally caught up with the rest of the pack at Ashigara rest stop. The Brisbane-ites in Koolhof’s van were keen to take in the scenery, ask driver Koolhof questions he could not answer, or simply snooze off. Refreshments finally came at aforementioned Ashigara where some were lucky enough to wait in line for a 4-bucks coffee, say hi to the other van passengers, including the Yoko contingent, or buy prawn crackers. Dale had the mascot emu tucked under his arm (first questions from the Wommies was obviously, “why isn’t it a koala?”) and Fordy declared that he knew how to say “prawn” in Japanese.
Next stop was at the Max-Value not far from the Fuji ground. By now the Koalas were agape at the mother of all Japanese mountains right behind them – and instinctively bought brewskies from the shop and cracked a few open. Gotta love being on tour, eh!? Lunch was bought, extra ice pilfered from the ice freezer; word is only one bag is allowed per person….but in the absence of any domestic controllers (names won’t be mentioned), founding father and 99-gamer (at the time) Dino, who was staving off boredom at the ground by conversing with the dandy-lions, requested that lots and lots be brought to the ground (obviously – we had 30 mouths to feed cold beer). Dino had actually put the stumps in and set up all the tents, chairs and tables – so we were good to go, xie xie ni.
A 35-over, retire-at-40, go-easy-on-calling-wides, no-front-foot-lbws kind of game was decided on by the respective captains Alex Patmore (TWCC) and Brent “Ricey” Rice (Qantas Koalas). Ricey? The natives would have a bit of fun with that moniker I reckon, given their obsession with the starchy white stuff, quipped Shearer shortly after. The tourists won the toss and sent the home team into bat. Out strode the teams – the Koalas looking grand in their red and white uniforms – somewhat Sydney Swans-ish. Shearer and Bracefield the openers for the Wombats. Koolhof and Vik umpiring initially, the former relishing the chance to play with a walkie-talkie!
Kush Singh, technically still in the middle of his honeymoon, took the first over for the Koalas and started generating some quality fast-medium pacers. From the other end trotted in the Kingslayer, just not on a horse. A dead-ringer for Jamie Lannister of GoT fame, Adam Stringer probably wished he really was in Westaros with one hand coz the one he was bowling with yielded up 16 runs after Richie B wielded the sword for a couple of fours and one major into the Fuji thicket. From the other end, Kusha took some punishment aswell, as both Dino and Richie stamped their Wombat (paws?) mark on the match from the early stages – his second over going for 18. Stringer came good though – bowling some dot balls to quell the riot, but the run-rate for the Wombats was still going strong at 10+, especially after Kush bowled another over for 9 runs (Ricey then dragged him). This author’s foggy memory does remember the Wommies bats offering up a couple of chances early on though – a fantastic attempt down at fine-leg on the boundary by Kusha to move around quickly and take a dive at a fastly-dipping ball – but it didn’t quite stick. Another chance just barely evaded Koala keeper Witham’s gloves after either Dino or Richie got a thick edge on it. Stringer got one more over before the skip replaced him – with himself, while at the other end it was Bevan Bray.
These two managed to rein in the fast-paced scoring, but it wasnt long before Richie reached his quota of 40 runs off only 25 balls, which included three 6s and two 4s. The big kiwi loves the sexes. Dino too followed suit not long after, retiring at 40 from 36 balls – his knocked included six 4s. At the crease now were skipper Patmore and club Prez Jamie Payne. JP knocked around the 1s and 2s when possible, while Patmore took a more aggressive approach and smacked the bad ball to the boundary – usually along the ground. The two Matts (Lovell and Elliot) rolled their arms over for about 5 overs each, before Ricey made a change and brought on his hollywood star in Richard Gere, but known as Barnesy among his teammates.
His tumultuous first over included a couple of wides, a boundary, and then a wicket when he tempted Jamie into hitting across the line, lobbing an easy catch to Kusha – first wicket to the Koalas in Japan! Patmore had retired by now (I think before Jamie’s dismissal), which brought mugi-shochu guzzling Carlton Blue Kade Simpson lookalike Deano Abbot to the crease. He was joined by Ken “his accent is so cute” Oiwa. The racist bus driver didnt last long though, being bowled by David Witham – who had just taken off the keeping gloves to come on for a trundle. Still, Kenny did smack one delivery to the boundary in his total of 5 runs. Carlton blue lookalike No. 2 Dale Smith was thrown the pill for a go at the wobbling wombats middle order and after a few grassed deliveries, he finally found his sights. It wasnt enough to convince the captain though, who thought Kusha deserved another crack.
Meanwhile, Deano was looking very assured out in the middle, a good sign for the Wommies who are in need of some solid middle-order performers. His running was energetic and he wasnt shy to have a swing at the bad ball. Narendar, however, only lasted a few balls before succumbing to the curse of the bowling wicket-keeper, holing out to Ricey in the deep. Deano soldiered on with new batsman He-Man Bugalia and the two put on a useful 22 runs and pushed TWCC’s score above 180. Kusha was bowling much better now, while Stringer had been brought back on at the other end. He duly dismissed Boogers with his first ball back as the whiskey-lovin’ Indian went for a big shot (?) and the pill finding its way once again to Ricey – J commentators cracking gohan jokes left, right, and center. The Midnight Oil playlist was all set with Adam Cronin striding out to the crease, but the stage struts were cut short as Kusha finally got his man by rattling the sticks in the 35th over. Vik scored one run and Deano finished up on a well-compiled 27 (30). Wombats 192/9 from 35 overs.
Lunch was taken and the Wombats took to the field to defend their total. Mr. 140 was thrown the new pill, while his opening bowling partner would be new face Adam. Opening the batting for the Koalas were Matt Lovell and John Foward. First delivery from Mr. 140 was sprayed wide, then a couple of dots, followed by a no-ball that found its way to the boundary. Not the best of starts for Yuzzy. Croners from the other end fared little better – he gave up 11 runs in his Fuji debut. But to their credit, the opening bowlers found their line and length over the next few overs and Forwardy and Matt had to be patient and wait for the odd bad ball every now and then.
Yusry got the first break through, dismissing Forward for 18 with a catch to Vikram. Koalas 31/1. That brought the captain Rice to the crease, who after a string of dot balls to get settled, started logging the runs quite easily. With the Wombats having 12 players, Yusry went off to
have a rest recalibrate his speedometer and Koolhof came on to the field. Naren took the ball at one end, while Vikram came on from the other. The boys were bowling quite well despite the Koalas keeping the scoreboard ticking over. With the score on 77, one of Vikram’s nude balls enticed Matt into an offside drive, which was marvelously snapped up by Nazzer at short cover. It was a great catch and in no way an easy one, having to lunge hard to his left. A nice roll in the grass for dramatic effect rounded the scene out just nicely. Lovell out for 29 off 37 balls.
Barnesy (Rich Gere) left his Pretty Woman Tara on the sidelines for a while to come out and have a hoik. Together with his captain, they got a new partnership going, while the Wombats made a bowling change, bringing Koolhof into the attack. Considerably lacking in rhythym (and possibly confidence) in the first few JCL games in 2017, it was a good chance for AK to find his groove again. He only got a couple of overs to have a crack at Ricey, who quickly reached his quota of 40 runs from only 31 balls, which included six 4s. Great knock from the skipper. Koolhof turned his attention to Barnesy then, relishing the chance of bowling out-swingers to the burly lefty. He-Man was introduced into the attack in search of his nemesis Skeletor – and soon found him in the shape of D Witham, who spooned another catch to Biscuits Ragunathan for only 4 runs. Kooly struck the very next over, taking the off stump of Barnesy, who returned to his Pretty Woman for a romantic stroll around the grounds. Koalas in a little bit of bother at 126/4, but with some capable bats to come down the order.
Kusha was looking to get aggressive now, swinging the bat here and there, but the J-NOB had other ideas, offering up a dipping in-swinger that beat the bat and crashed into the woodwork. Prez Jamie was offered the chance to bowl, which he gleefully accepted. First over was a bit wobbly, but the Breaker-of-Arms settled and started to bowl a really good spell. Boogers at the other end then nipped out two Koalas in one over: first to go was the Kingslayer – who popped one up over the head of the ever-athletic Dinosaur, who to everyone’s surprise, performed a dextrous back-pedal to snaffle the thing at around head height. Dino probably felt a sense of vindication after taking that catch though, after being heckled for most of the innings for his gargoyle impersonation on the boundary. Matt Elliot was next to go – he was trying to hit big over the mid-wicket boundary, but picked out safe-as-houses Richie. Himanshu now had 3 wickets and already dreaming of Wyndham cab-sav with his BBQ sanger! In came Laurie, the best purveyor of a Boonie moustache ever to set foot in Fuji, and gifted his wicket to the Wommies’ prez with an easy catch straight to Yusry, who had returned to the field, while Adam was off with a sore leg or something, but relegated to onion cooking duty.
The Koalas were still in with a decent chance of overtaking the target, however, because even though wickets were falling regularly, the boys from Bris Vegas were picking up the runs steadily, including the odd boundary. Bevan was batting solidly, but lost his new partner in Dale immediately to a stumping from stand-in keeper Deano, bowled by Himanshu. With 9 wickets down and the score on 160 with 3.2 overs left, Ricey returned to the middle to continue his unbeaten knock – and he certainly gave it fair shake. Shearer and Naren bowled the last two overs and for a moment there, after a chance went begging with Richie putting down a tough chance in the outfield, it looked like Brent would win the game off his own bat. Twos and ones were accumulated, and only a few boundaries were needed to get the tourists within striking distance of 192. Naren held his nerve though in the ultimate over, only allowing three runs from his first four balls. But Ricey counter-punched, launching one over the head of cow corner for six bits – and with one ball to come, anything could happen. An anti-climax ensued though, with Brent only managing two runs off the last ball – Koalas seven runs short of victory at 186/9.
But being a friendly match – none of that mattered. The match was played in great spirit all day, lots of banter was had out on the field, and new friendships grew even stronger. The old cliche “cricket was the winner” certainly rang true again. A BBQ followed with many cold beers and then some presentations to close the day’s play. The Wyndham Estate Man of the Match for the Wombats was Himanshu with his key four wickets, while Brent’s unbeaten knock of 58 secured him a bottle of George Wyndham wine. The Koalas presented a shirt to the TWCC captain, president, and their pick of our best-on-ground player – Jarrad Shearer! It certainly must have been a tough decision to split the top 3 batsmen for the Wommies, who all scored 40 runs. What was the criteria, some of us pondered?
A lovely plaque was also presented to the Wombats as a token of gratitude, and all players received a few Qantas mementos. Thankyou to all the Koalas for your friendship and generosity – we had a fantastic time. A big thankyou also to the Qantas Koala scorers – you made the day go that much smoother! And of course, to all the partners that made the trip down with the players. We hope you enjoyed the great scenes of Mt. Fuji as a backdrop to the Fuji cricket ground.
And now there was only one more thing to do. Drink more beer and ride the booze bus back to Tokes! Ice-filled boxes did the trick in Koala van No. 1 with driver Koolhof now sitting on the floor – reprieved of his duties by Naren – thanks Nazzer! It was indeed in that very spot where I sat that the highlights started when ol’ Smokin’ Pete conjured up the idea – but the highlights would have to wait until the next day after the YCAC T20 match. Still, bus shenanigans were aplenty, and with the stezza cranking out some old tunes, the Koalas engaged in a bit of sing-song. In the other van, the bearded ones were discussing trimming techniques, while debate raged about what is actually spoiled by too many cooks. Yuzzy had other answeres for that one.
A rendezvous at Nakai pit stop allowed everyone to catch up and it was by this stage that the Koalas brains trust realized that a blunder had been made with regards to the awarding of the Qantas t-shirt for MVP as chosen by the tourists. Not to worry then – the Wommies procured a spare bottle of wine and a small presentation ceremony took place right there (see video)! Poor old Dino.
Thanks to all the people that made this trip to Fuji logistically possible – you know who you are!
- Lovely catch by Narendar at short extra cover, moving quickly and diving to his left.
- Well-judged catch in the deep by Richie, never looked like dropping it.
- Vikrams prolonged juggle before taking a good catch at square leg.
- Dino back peddling at deep mid on to take an overhead catch late in the game.
- Richie dropping a high one running in from the cow corner fence to finish the match off Dino’s solitary over.
- “Come on, Gargoyle” – says Richie to Dino at the end of the drinks break, which was preceded by a somewhat immobile fielding effort on the boundary.
- “Someone else said that, I didn’t say anything” (Yusry bragging about hitting 140km to the Koalas the night before the match)
- Follow up quote by Yusry about his new nickname Mr. 140. “That name will never catch on guys, it’s stupid”
- “Dino that moves” – quips Patmore after Deano gets active behind the stumps
- Richie for throwing the word ‘hiatus’ into casual conversation with one of the koalas post-match
- “You have to go with the grain” Dale of the Koalas giving Richie beard care tips in the van on the way home
- Yuz to Patmore: “You should warn the bowlers about bouncers.” (As it was a friendly match and bouncers shouldn’t be bowled.). Patmore to Yuz: “Ah, that’s yourself only, Yuz.”
- After a bit of debate in the Himan/Patmore/Deano/Payne van about whether the proverb is “too many cooks spoil the soup” or “too many cooks spoil the broth”, Yuzzy kicks down the door with “too many cocks spoil the pussy”.
- The sliding door of the 10-seater van closing, sitting crossed legged on the van’s floor, beer in hand, Koolhof proudly explains to a couple of Koalas “now THIS is where the highlights started”.
- Patmore says to Himanshu and Richie after joining in the appeal for LBW ( and probably a dummy spit after umpire turned that appeal down) from the opposite square boundaries of the ground, “You and you, both tekitonies!”
- Patmore forgetting Adams name when announcing the batting order “….. um you go in at number 8…..”
- “Buwahahaha” – Patmore and Vik’s response to my question about what Vik was bowling. Aaaaand I still don’t know (although I’m reliably informed that they are “slow nude balls”).
- “I was running real hard into a strong wind and the ball was spinning and dipping and the sun was burning through my sunglasses, ay bro” – Richie’s attempted explanation as to why he spilt a regulation catch of your’s truly.
- “That nickname is shit. It’ll never stick” – says Mr. 140.
Great Moments in Sport
- Fantastic presentation ceremony from both teams after the game and all-round cricket camaraderie.
- Superb all around fielding work at point by J. Payne and by Ken the Racist at mid off.
- Patmore for putting in a fine performance with the bat and driving the team all day after stopping the van for a near-vomit on the way in.
- Yusry for a fine opening spell after 2.5 hrs sleep (and was there a vom in there too?)
- Himan’s wonderful bowling spell and Naren’s leggies.
- Quick stumping by Deano
- Patmore for wearing his helmet while standing back two weeks in a row. I guess he’s frightened of Mr. 140.
- Richie receiving his best batsman award from the Koalas at some service station, after they realised they’d wrongly presented it to Shearer at the ground several hours before
- “Adam is bloody burning my onions – he’s not even looking at the bbq!” – crows Dino from afar
- Yusry complaining that Patmore is putting him off (by keeping up to the stumps for him).