Cricket in Thailand took another step forward as it was part of the National Games organized by the Sports Authority of Thailand for the first time. There were two four-team tournaments for men and women played over the course of three days. Chiang Mai played host to the event with a total of 12 20-over matches staged at Gymkhana Club and Royal Chiang Mai Golf and Cricket Resort.
Khon Kaen and Chiang Mai were the strongest teams in the men’s competition as both won their first two matches so the gold and silver medals would be decided when the two teams went head to head at Royal Chiang Mai in the last match of the tournament.
Chiang Mai have regularly won tournaments at under-19 level but this was a competition open to seniors and several of Khon Kaen’s best players have continued to play at senior level despite not having top class facilities available to them.
Wanchana Uisuk has proved himself as an outstanding young all-rounder and he was unlucky to be injured during the ACC Challenge Trophy and unable to show off his skills for Thailand, but he had already made a fifty against Suphanburi, and he set himself to bat through the innings against Chiang Mai.
Tam started slowly but accelerated to make an unbeaten 70 from 50 balls with six fours and five sixes to see his team through to an impressive total of 142 for 4 in their 20 overs. He then opened the bowling and quickly tied down the Chiang Mai batsmen.
Nophon Senamontree bowled his left-arm spin with great expertise to leave Chiang Mai floundering well behind the run-rate before Tong (45* from 63 balls) and Nikom (36* from 23 balls) applied a late flourish. Their efforts were in vain as a total of 115 for 3 meant that Khon Kaen had won by 27 runs to deservedly take gold.
The women’s competition was a thrilling affair with three teams all able to win gold on the last day. Chiang Mai looked to be the strongest team on the first day as they easily defeated Bangkok at Gymkhana and Uttaradit beat Sri Saket at Royals by just 12 runs.
But it was all change on the second day as Uttaradit seemed to take a decisive advantage as they made 216 against Bangkok at Gymkhana thanks to a century from Chanida Sutthiruang which gave them victory by 110 runs, while Sri Saket successfully defended a total of 126 to defeat Chiang Mai by nine runs.
The last day’s matches would be crucial and Sri Saket gained their second win by beating Bangkok and Chiang Mai fought back well to beat Uttaradit by eight wickets after bowling them out for 85.
This sequence of results meant that Chiang Mai, Sri Saket and Uttaradit had all won two matches out of three so that the medals had to be decided on net run-rate. After the calculations had been completed Uttaradit had just done enough to claim gold ahead of Chiang Mai with Sri Saket in third place.
All the teams gathered together at Royal Chiang Mai to hold a medals ceremony to conclude a very successful event. Khon Kaen had been very impressive in the men’s event and the women’s competition had been a very exciting one with all the top women players taking part and gaining good match practice ahead of the important ACC Women’s Championship which is being held in Chiang Mai at the end of January.
The three-day event went very smoothly with a lot of the best Thai cricketers taking part and the officials all working on a voluntary basis. Cricket was a demonstration event in 2012 but it is hoped that it will become a regular feature of future editions of the National Games which will be another great boost for cricket in Thailand.