Thailand’s women cricketers look past World Cup heartache

Written by The Frontier Post

Bangkok (AFP/APP): In a country where a Muay Thai right hook is more familiar than a batter’s hook shot, Thailand’s pioneering women cricketers are winning hearts with smiles, dance moves — and skill.
In contrast to Asian powerhouses India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, where the game has deep historical roots going back to British imperial rule, cricket remains in its infancy in Thailand and is still virtually unknown. Thailand qualified for the 2020 Women’s T20 World Cup in Australia, where the hosts beat India in the final, but further progress is being hampered by minimal exposure on TV and lack of access to equipment. They have suffered heartbreak too.
Thailand were on course to reach the 50-over World Cup in New Zealand in March-April, but saw their dream shattered when the qualifying tournament was abandoned because of the pandemic. None of it helps when trying to raise awareness of cricket in Thailand.
All-rounder Chanida Sutthiruang played in the T20 World Cup, where Thailand failed to win in four games and bowed out in the group stage, and says that even her own family struggle to grasp the sport.
“Most people in Thailand associate cricket with hockey. My parents don’t understand what cricket is,” the 28-year-old farmer’s daughter told AFP.
At early morning training on the outskirts of Bangkok, Natthakan Chantam is all smiles as a bowling machine spits 100kph (60mph) deliveries at her.
“I love the celebrations when you score a run or get someone out… there are celebrations in every moment of the game,” the 26-year-old opener, Thailand’s top run-scorer at the T20 World Cup, told AFP. “I think that’s the charm of cricket.” Thailand made their international debut in 2007 but have drastically improved in the past three years, said their Indian head coach Harshal Pathak.

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