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A triumph for hill tribe junior cricket

Blythswood v San Miguel Thais at Gymkhana Club Saturday, 5 April 2014
A triumph for hill tribe junior cricket

The 27th staging of the San Miguel Chiang Mai International Cricket Sixes saw the side from Bangladesh, the Walton Cricketeers, win the Cup for the third year in a row, but there is no doubt that it was the Thai junior cricketers, many of them supported by the Hill Tribe Fund, who stole the show this year as they delighted crowds and players alike with their performances.

The San Miguel Thais only lost one match all week to win the Joe Carpenter Plate with the most exciting contest of the week, the Plate final against Blythswood bringing the competition to a perfect end with the boys scrambling a bye off the last ball to secure victory by the narrowest possible margin. No fewer than five junior girls played in the 2014 competition with 14-year-old Nok becoming the first to win a trophy as Gymkhana Cavaliers defeated Sa Pa in the Spoon final.

Walton Cricketeers were undoubtedly the strongest side in the competition in 2014 but they were careful to play by the rules as their two best players, Elias Sunny who has played Test cricket for Bangladesh, and Mehedi Hasan, also a first-class player, never appeared together. The Bangladesh side beat Chiang Mai Warriors in the Cup final as they restricted the local side to a total of 40 for 4 in their 5 overs which they chased down in less than 3 overs without losing a wicket. Mahrab Joshi was named player of the tournament for his all-round performances throughout the week.

Finals afternoon had begun with a local triumph as the Gymkhana Cavaliers defeated Sa Pa by six runs to win the Spoon for the third time. 22-year old Bank who had first played in the Sixes Sawasdee tournament almost 10 years before made an unbeaten 25 in a total of 59 for one and then bowled a tidy over to put the opposition under pressure. 74-year-old Eric Little claimed yet another stumping and the Ice Man, Chris Simmonds, lived up to his name with a nerveless final over. The Cavaliers had also lived up to their shirts which had (by accident?) already been labelled ‘Spoon Champions 2014’.

Tokyo Dingbats and Buffed Taverners contested the Bowl Final with both teams celebrating anniversaries in 2014 but it was the Dingbats who were victorious and if their Bangladeshi opening batsman played a part in the later stages it was young Max Coombes who had impressed in the early part of the week. Tokyo Dingbats were popular champions as they have always been most generous with their support for junior cricket with three portable bowling machines and a large amount of equipment being their latest contributions.

The Bromley Shield which is the second highest ranked competition at the Sixes saw Darjeeling defeat the Clifton Hill Stray Cats by five runs in a high-scoring final as a total of 68 for 2 played 63 for 4 with three run outs proving critical in a Stray Cats’ chase that fell just short.

With four finals completed, the stage was set for the final match of the 2014 San Miguel Chiang Mai International Sixes and win or lose the junior cricketers of the San Miguel Thais would ensure that this year’s competition would end on a high note.

Blythswood, celebrating their tenth anniversary in the Chiang Mai Sixes, were their opponents in the final of the Joe Carpenter Plate and the English side looked to have made a flying start as they scored 21 from the first over. Choo bowled an outstanding second over and although Boom conceded three sixes in his over, Cher and Chanchai also delivered fine overs to restrict Blythswood to 62 for 2 in their 5 overs.

San Miguel Thais had a stiff task on their hands particularly as Blythswood only conceded three wides but Bunchuai was content to play himself in, while Chanchai went for his shots until he was out in the fourth over. Cher hit a vital boundary from the last ball of the over but 19 runs were still required from the last six balls.

Bunchuai has had an amazing season as he has led his Lamphun provincial team to two trophies and also won two player of the tournament awards. He started the last over 4243 as he scored 15 in four balls and Cher then hit the fifth ball to the boundary. Two runs to win, one to tie, but Cher missed the final ball and suddenly both boys were in the middle of the pitch. The wicket-keeper threw but missed both sets of stumps and a bye was somehow completed.

Who had won? Blythswood had scored 62 for 2, San Miguel Thais 62 for 1, so the boys had won the Joe Carpenter Plate by virtue of losing fewer wickets. Bunchuai made 23 not out from 12 balls and was later awarded Player of the Finals for his composed performance and the juniors had won yet another trophy.

The boys had been magnificent throughout the week with their pace in the field and between the wickets more than making up for their lack of power, but it was the hill tribe girls who captured the hearts of everyone at the Sixes. Nok played a full part in the successful Gymkhana Cavaliers team even though she was 60 years younger than her captain Eric, Wheel and Sap reached the Spoon final with Sa Pa and the diminutive pair of Aree and Sangdao were simply delightful in their efforts for the Taranaki Taverners.

Young Sangdao is a tremendous prospect with her leg-spin as she proved by taking three wickets in an over to win a Player of the Day award and her figures of 3 for 1 were never bettered during the week.

The 2014 San Miguel Chiang Mai International Cricket Sixes has again shown that the future of junior cricket in Thailand, particularly for hill tribe children, is very bright indeed.

Blythswood 62 for 2 (5 overs)

San Miguel Thais 62 for 1 (5 overs)
Bunchuai 23*

San Miguel Thais won Plate Final