Chiang Mai's role in putting cricket on the front foot in Thailand

Chiang Mai's role in putting cricket on the front foot in Thailand

The Thai national women's cricket team. photo: Somchai Poomlard
The Thai national women's cricket team. photo: Somchai Poomlard

It has been a momentous year for cricket in Thailand, who won their first gold medal in the sport at the SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur in August when they beat Indonesia by 23 runs in the women's 20-over title showdown.

Thailand also won a bronze medal in the men's 50-over event as they convincingly defeated Myanmar and Indonesia and competed well against stronger sides Malaysia and Singapore.

This is the first time that cricket was held at the SEA Games and so a gold medal in the sport is another important step forward for the development of cricket in Thailand.

Cricket has a long history in Thailand even though it was never colonised by the British. One of the most important events in Thailand is the Chiang Mai International Cricket Sixes, which started in 1988 and celebrated its 30th anniversary earlier this year.

The Chiang Mai Sixes is a tournament for amateur teams from across the world but it has been in the forefront of junior cricket development in northern Thailand since 2000 when the Chaing Mai Schools Cricket Alliance was formed with the aim of bringing cricket to Thai schools.

Sawasdee Cricket playing with a softball was the starting point and the Chiang Mai Sixes has staged the Sawasdee Cup for 18 years with many local school teams taking part.

Many of the current Thailand players started playing cricket this way and the Sixes also helped fund hard ball coaching in schools and talented children soon began to play junior matches.

The Chiang Mai Sixes also promotes a Thai Thevada team in their competition to give a chance to the best young Thai players to compete against teams from around the world and across Thailand.

The competition has helped develop some fine young players, many of them from hill tribes or under-privileged backgrounds.

The Chiang Mai Sixes does more than giving children a chance to play cricket, it also looks after the welfare and education of a number of girls and boys from hill tribe backgrounds thanks to the Hill Tribe Fund.

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