- Match by Match
- Photos 1
- Photos 2
by Ian Gason
The historic first overseas assignment for the Tokyo Wombats will get under way in Chiang Mai, northern Thailand, on Sunday 27th March. A week long festival of cricket, The Chiang Mai Sixes is the world’s premier amateur Sixes event. Importantly it is a fund raiser for the hugely successful junior development programs bringing cricket to schools in Thailand.
The bulk of the squad will assemble in Bangkok for a few days of acclimatising, before swapping the Wombat wagon for a Thai train, a 12 hour overnight journey north. Jetting in for the Welcome Party on Saturday 26th will be the final two members, Zulu and Reggie.
There will be 300 people representing 30 Clubs from 11 countries taking part. Invitations have been sent to Sirs Mick Jagger and Vivian Richards, and regular visitors include Tom Hogan and Trevor Chappell. TWCC are drawn to play Chappell’s Warathas on Wednesday 30th. Our opening game is v Bahrain’s Awali Taverners, 0950 Sunday!
We are the first Japanese club to attend the event, and trust that we have assembled a squad which will represent not only the Club, but also Japanese cricket in an appropriate manner, both on and off the field.
The ultimate cricket destination? A Test series in the Carribean? An Ashes Tour? No, Thailand’s Chiang Mai Sixes! Held annually in April, it is the Grand-daddy of the now popular Sixes comps running from Morocco to Newcastle to Shanghai. This year Tokyo Wombats became the first Japanese club to compete at this great event.
Eight of us made the journey. Included in our party was long-lost Wombat Marty; Shrek, a daiquiri destroying Canadian ‘tour manager’; Paul, well and truely retired from cricket, plus the more mundane Wombats, NIKKA, Reggie, Dino, Zulu and Curly.
The organization of the tournament is meticulous. The standard runs the full parameter of abilities, from mug to weekend warrior to Test playing internationals. The atmosphere is first class throughout, and the players, no matter who they are or where they are from, are an easy going bunch there to enjoy their favourite game.
The ground is superb, in the middle of the 19th century Gymkhana Club golf course, complete with sight-screens, scoreboard, nets, trees, 2 bars, hammocks and team tents. No bicycle paths or searching through weeds here! Only 40 minutes a day was spent in mortal combat. OK, we spent a bit of time in the nets, and warming up. Most of the time was spent under cover at the tent watching the games, enjoying the food on offer, or gossiping away at the bar.
Perhaps NIKKA’s comments sum it up best: “having a beer with world-class cricketers after getting smashed around the ground by them. It was a week of comradeship both from teammates and opposition. The enjoyment of being with your mates, consistent lack of sleep, and just knowing what ever you`ve got planned both day and night will be a top laugh.”
While the cricket was competitive and our reason for being there, it was the socializing that made the week. Drinking with your opposition is mandatory, and a few minutes after the pads are off, teams meet at The Boundary Bar, buy each other drinks and have a laugh. Most of the people we met were genuinely interested in Japanese cricket, and often had similar tales from their own cricketing frontiers. No egos here, even the international stars are just regular blokes here, and several times I didn’t realise that some guy I was talking to had represented his country before!
Having helped secure the Wombats invitation, Paul Knighton pulled on the whites for the first time in a quarter century. Sending down our first over was a highlight for him: “Bowling our best figures (as I recall it anyway) against a 1992 World Cup winner! If I’d known who he was I would have bottled it probably!”
Seeing Marty afer 18 months on the Goldie was a treat, as was his bowling, and he soon became the Wombats Dr Death, after closing out with 2 wickets in 2 balls v Bahrain. He was also able to add some valueble runs throughout, until that monster bruise took its toll! Two quick wickets caught the injured wommie off guard, and few will forget the sight of him pulling his shirt on as he walked out needing 13 with 3 balls to go. To top it off, he got a single, which allowed NIKKA to bitch-slap a six and put victory within reach. (A second bitch slap fell metres short of the required six.)
We came through a tough group with just one win, but importantly a lot of respect. Reggie’s running, rolling gather on the boundary in our elimination game typified the fight we showed. Zulu and NIKKA keeled over, huffing, puffing and almost hurling after running 5 was another highlight. Dino, after bagging our first duck, belted some big runs, and his running love-hate relationship with on ground commentator Rick will live on for years to come.
But most of our respect was won on the Pig Picking Night, when we all donned the yukatas. Marty even got up and sang the ‘Sukiyaki Song’. The yukatas stayed on all night and we made quite a sight running round Chiang Mai. Paul’s comments however can’t be ignored, “Woofta Aussies who ALL wore something UNDER the yukata .. having all sworn the opposite!”
Unfortunately we had to speed back to work and missed the Closing Party. Paul was there for us, though. “The closing dinner was a hoot. Rick entertained with a long run through of the week – all the usual thank-yous etc., then a warm welcome to the new teams. I felt the Wombats were deliberately saved till last and given special kudos. Your plane flew over right in the middle of this! Obviously we were remembered best for our off the park activities although it was commented on what a tough group we’d been drawn in.”
Our DVD has arrived incomplete, but within a week or two (Thai time!) we will have all 5 games and be screening them at The Clubhouse. Should refresh some foggy memories, as well as inspire the rest of you to make it in 2006.
vs Bahrain (March 27, 2005)
After meeting the players and officials at the Welcome Party Saturday Night, the action moved to the field Sunday, and we took on Bahrains Awali Taverners. Lost the toss and sent in to the field. Our English Wombat Paul Knighton sent down the historic first ball and his over was a very respectable sub-10. Andy Hall bowled a beauty, beating the bat 4 times after being spanked by Sri Lankan guest star Ramesh Kaluwitharana for 4. Kalu spanked me for consecutive fours before I somehow claimed my first Test players scalp, bowled. Reggie copped a bit of stick for 16 runs, though he almost had a caught and bowled. Marty Charlton was chosen to close out at the death, and after 2 4s, fixed his line and length, beat the bat, then bowled 2 in two balls. Hat-trick ball was the last ball of the over, and Zulu behind the stumps came close to pulling off a catch. Bahrain 2/62 off 5 overs.
Paul Knighton opened the bat and 25 years of cricketing neglect showed as he swung and missed. The slow start was sped up by a very sick man in Andy Hall, whose late cuts to the boundary were the days highlight. Retired 31 off 11 balls. Meanwhile Paul milked an over of wides, before he decided to hit out or get out…and get out it was. A great sacrifice that brought in Zulu, who stole stole some 2s and 3s. Marty and Zulu were chasing about 12 off the last over, and Marty’s snick past the keeper with 3 to spare left us on 59 with 2 balls in hand. Next ball he slipped turning from the second and failed to make his ground. 1 ball, 2 runs, and in I came. All 4 fielders were placed deep in the off. I swung, and yep, missed, but the ball trickled off my groin to the 3rd slip area. Had the throw hit as I came back for the 2nd, it would have been close. 2/62 gave us victory as we had lost less wickets. Doesn’t come much closer than that.
Man of the Match: Andy Hall, who 10 minutes before the game looked like a stretcher case.
vs Surrey (March 28, 2005)
Our second game was against one of the tournament favourites, Surrey Vagrants. Two tosses, two losses, and we again got our wish anyway. 2 balls later, Surrey got their wish as Jarrad was adjudged LBW without a run on the board. Marty picked up a bag ful of boundaries, NIKKAs late cut were on display again, Reggie faced 2 balls and gained us a 4 and a bye. 5 overs 45, I think. A tough task lay ahead.
NIKKA’s class act of Sunday was not repeated, but the spectators did get to see a class act from South Australian Mark Higgs, who helped himself to 24 off the opening over. Martys 16 ball over was next, and there were some big big hits in that too. 3 balls later, Surrey had finished the job. All over in 15 balls!
Man of the Match…..hard to go past Higgs!
Presently we are sitting in the middle of our group and Wednesday we play the Warathas, whose Trevor Chappell was sitting next to me here just 10 minutes ago. Thursday is our last pre-lim game, and then it is elimination. We could end up in any 3 of 4 division….the top being the other one!
Having a genuinely U-beaut time. Marty says g’day to yous all. Photos will come after we get back. Look for the one of the duck lady.
QUARTER FINALS LOOM FOR WOUNDED WOMBATS
vs Warathais (March 30, 2005)
TWCCs CM campaign took its second backwards step with a big loss to the experienced Warathais from Newcastle. 3 tosses, 3 losses and Warathais went in to bat, with Trevor Chappel opening with some other bloke who did most of the damage. Reggie’s wayward bowling came in for around 20 runs of punishment, and when Marty faired only slightly better a big total was imminent. I was looking OK for a few balls til a top edge went over the ropes for 6, just missing the sponsors Big Ten signboard. Axeman’s comments were geeing us up out in the midde, ta mate. Sadly it was a case of so near, so far for Andy Hall, when a superb pick up and throw to the keeper had Trev a metre out, but a Shearer fumble deprived our big redhead of bragging right, and gave the Warathais a life. (But the rocket science comments from Axe gained TWCC more friends here at CM!) Wombats failed to take a wicket for the second game in a row (easy on, its only 30 balls!) and were chasing 85 for victory.
I put myself in to open, and when then proceeded to rack up dot balls. Easing the ball down thru 3rd man, like NIKKA does so well, looks great when you connect, but not so good otherwise. The first over didn’t even yield 10 runs, so 75 from 24 balls was beyond us. The Dinosaur rocked the CM Gymkhana with 2 huge 6s and began what will no doubt be a long love hate relationship with on ground commentator, Rick The Viking. One field splitting push down the ground was described as not well timed, moments before it hit the ropes. When Jarrad retired, the run rate was too much, and perhaps the pressure was why Zulu crossed (on a 4?!?) to the strikers end and deprived in-coming reggie the chance to face Trevor Chappell. In the end the newcastle boys fielding and experience undid us, and we pulled up 30 short.
vs CMW Warriors (March 31, 2005)
Having impressed all the CM teams with our yukatas, none more than Martys high-school girl length number, and proceeded to display our dancing in yukata skills all over town, the boys were fighting fit and ready to keel over for our 9:30 game this morning. NIKKA began with a great over conceeded a mere handful runs. He got his 1st overseas wicket when I decided it was too early for hands and took a straight drive hit in the chest, wrapping it up Dunstall style. Marty kept this going nicely, and when I finsihed the third over, 1/21 looked great. Zulu pulled his beamers out of his bag of tricks, slipped in a wide for good measure, and by the end of Reggies over they had managed 57, well within our reach……
….but also very defendable, we found out. Reggie was bumped up, and when Marty pulled a muscle the big Queenslander was bumped down to 6, if needed. Andys trademark slap to 3rd man brought 4 first ball. Reggie escaped the dreaded duck lady by the bearest of margins. Jarrad belted 20 or more, and found time to show the middle of the bat to new mate Rick The Viking after a monster 6. Jarrad was caught short on a second, and I came, saw and got runout (first ball, 1 run….or was it a legbye. The Duck Lady will tell me!!)
No doubt about Zulu, who peaheartedly spooned a dinky return catch first ball. The injured Marty was sitting nursing an ice-pack, and struggled to get his pads and shirt on in time. Dressing on the way out helped. 3 balls, 13 runs, and Marty can’t lift a bat. Single. 12 needed and Andy Hall bitch-slaps our Indian friend into the Boundary Bar, and the get-out-of-jail card looms. Another bitch slap, ball aerial, but alas, it didn’t carry to the Bar again and we went down by 1 run.
From here I head back to the air-con to contemplate the unthinkable: bowling The Dinosaur. Apologies in advance if he actually gets a wicket. Extras ARE costing us, but where can I hide him in the field?
HEADS HELD HIGH AS TWCC BOW OUT.
Quarter Final vs Ashwell Crusaders (March 31, 2005)
The cricketing portion of the Tokyo Wombats first overseas tour ended this afternoon in Chiang Mai, with yet another narrow defeat, this time against England’s Ashwell Crusaders.
After our morning game, we got in some strategic sleeping and lounging at the hotel, before returning to the ground in the heat of the day. Worryingly, I won my first overseas tour toss, and elected to bat. Dinosaur and NIKKA went in and the first few overs were tight. All it takes in 6s is a couple of dot balls and the pressure is on. A coupe of attempted 3rd man slaps by NIKKA didn’t come off, and after 3 overs we were a mere 29. As urged by new Wombat fan & on-ground commentator Rick, we set about doubling the score in the final 2 overs. A couple of picket clearers from Jarrad and some U-beaut spanks from NIKs and we were on our way too a respectable total. Jarrad fell to a top out-field catch. The skip was eyeing his MRF and thinking of jumping the queue, but stuck to the set plan and Zulu got off his pair. The innings highlight would be the 5 all-run by this pair. In this heat, running a 3 is considered foolhardy, but the boys sucked it up, and helped themsleves to 2 overthrows. The sight of NIKKA bent over getting set to heave will live on in CM memories. They took us to 1/59 from our 5 overs. A couple of dots, and failure to take advantage of the weaker bowlers meant we would have to play out of our skins to progress.
With Marty ruled out with a bung arm, veteran Paul Knighton was again pulled out of retirement. Zulu, after his Brett Lee beamers, was given the gloves. Andy, after a 20 minute break, and a quick hit of rehydration, took the 1st over, and kept the Ashwell boys under the required 12. I was next and with a LB going my way and some unintentional yorkers, the game stood evenly poised. Big Bugalugs got an unlucky edged four first up, before getting all sentimental about Z’s beamers and whipping one down himself. Reggie, whose rolling gather and return off Jarrad was described by Rick as typifying the kind of G&D shown by the Tokyo boys, got on the receiving end of some brave hitting. The game had swung Ashwell’s way, and with veteran Paul subbing for Marty “Dr Death” Charlton, we would need some luck defending the last 11 runs, and in a nutshell that didn’t happen. A wide (2 runs) first-up was followed by a couple of boundaries, and Ashwell won their way through to Friday’s semi with just 2 balls to spare.
For our first effort, whilst defeat will always be a disappointment, we have done a great service to the Club name as well as advance the reputation of cricket in Japan. The determination we showed in the field, our yukatas last night, Axe’s live emails, and just having a drink at The Boundary Bar (and others) has earned us a great deal of respect.
Time to eat, drink and be merry. ‘ooroo!