The Chiang Mai Senior League had reached the half way stage with all four teams still able to win the title but Chiang Mai Lanna gained an important win over the fast-improving Gymkhana Juniors to go to the top of the table. With their comfortable victory by 46 runs at Royal Chiang Mai, Lanna now have three wins in four matches and if they can hold off the challenge of the Floggers & Robbers over the next few weeks, they could be crowned first league champions.
The Lanna side had a much changed look with several players making their long-awaited league debuts and Gymkhana Juniors had just won their last match by nine wickets, so when Tim Woolls was dismissed by the first ball of the match, caught behind off a perfect away-swinger from Chanchai, hopes were high for the Juniors.
But Lanna now have a strong batting line-up and wicket-keeper Richard Cowles looked to be finding his form as he put on 34 with Nick Kirby for the second wicket before the opener was bowled by leg-spinner Anim and Choo claimed the third wicket with the total on 38.
Gymkhana Juniors were still on top but left-handed skipper Pete Warner used all his experience to hold up an end while Liam Woolls, Tim’s younger brother, found his feet and soon showed off a fine range of shots as he hit four fours and four sixes in an entertaining innings.
The Woolls brothers have proved prized assets for Lanna as Tim had already hit two fifties in the league and Liam matched him by scoring a half-century on debut before being required to retire. Warner’s solid innings had also come to an end so Gymkhana Juniors still had a chance to keep Lanna to a total around 150.
Ryan Sherman’s time-keeping isn’t always the best but his timing with the bat is of the highest order and he hit three fours in his 21 but Cher claimed two quick wickets and Lanna’s innings looked to have run out of steam on 148 for seven in the 26th over.
But there was a sting in the tail as young Nok, who surely will soon be joining the Thailand women’s squad, playing as a guest for Lanna, showed an excellent technique and found an unlikely partner in Richard Lockwood who had decided he must make the most of a rare opportunity to play.
Aided by a number of extras the pair added 22 from the last four overs to see Lanna home to a total of 170 for eight and those few additonal runs could have proved crucial in deciding the result of the match and even the eventual winners of the league.
The fine pavilion at Royals proved the perfect location for the traditional cricket tea provided by Lanna’s hyper-active chairman, David Holt, and this must have energized Liam Woolls because he opened the bowling for Lanna at great pace.
But it was Nok who bowled a better line and length and she was rewarded with the wicket of Anim who was smartly stumped by Richard Cowles and the batsman was left with the task of explaining to his father how he got out to a girl.
Bunchuaai and Nikom looked comfortable as Nok started to tire in her fourth over but Ryan Sherman’s slow left-arm was to change the course of the match as he bowled Nikom for 19 and then dismissed Mukesh and Chanchai with consecutive balls.
Worse was to follow as Tim Woolls also claimed three quick wickets and Tom Salusbury was also successful as the youngsters were unable to contain themselves against a variety of tempting slow bowling. A comfortable 68 for two had become a disappointing 81 for eight.
Opening batsman Bunchuaai had watched the succession of wickets while looking in no trouble himself and he was looking to achieve the rare distinction of carrying his bat when he fell lbw to the ‘Dark Destroyer’ Taran Persaud as he misjudged the line of a well-flighted delivery.
Bunchuaai’s innings of 44 took him to the top of the run-scoring chart in league matches and again confirmed that he was a talented batsman with a fine temperament. His annoyance at being dismissed showed a determination to succeed and last pair Pong and Yun took the total to 124 before Taran finished off the innings with his second wicket.
Chiang Mai Lanna had triumphed by 46 runs and their third win in four matches took them to the top of the league table. A highly enjoyable day was finished off with a few beers (for the adults) in the pavilion as Royal Chiang Mai Golf and Cricket Resort again showed itself to be an idyllic location to play cricket.
Lanna 170 for 8 (30 overs)
Liam Woolls 53*, Ryan Sherman 21; Chanchai 2 for 38, Anim 2 for 24, Cher 2 for 15
Gymkhana Juniors 124 (28 overs)
Lanna won by 46 runs
Bunchuai 44; Ryan Sherman 3 for 24, Tim Woolls 3 for 12, Taran Persaud 2 for 16