Thailand’s women cricketers have enjoyed great success in 20-over competitions in recent seasons but they are about to embark on a great Sri Lankan adventure which will see them take part in the ICC Women’s World Cup Qualifier which will see ten countries compete for four places in the 50-over World Cup played in England in June and July this year.
Australia, New Zealand, England and West Indies have already taken places in the eight-team Women’s World Cup but India, South Africa, Pakistan and Sri Lanka are required to qualify alongside Bangladesh and Ireland and the four regional qualifiers: Thailand from Asia, Papua New Guinea from East Asia-Pacific, Scotland from Europe and Zimbabwe from Africa.
Thailand’s women are breaking new ground as this is the first time they have taken part in the qualifying tournament for the 50-over World Cup, although they have twice played in the ICC Women’s World T20 Qualifier, winning the Shield in 2013 and even acting as hosts in 2015.
The Thailand team have never played official 50-over matches, although they did win the ACC Women’s Premier event in 2014 by winning all five of their 40-over matches. Players like Nattaya Boochatham and captain Sornnarin Tippoch in particular showed they had the required skills for the longer form of the game.
The girls have been playing 50-over practice matches in Bangkok and their preparations will continue in Sri Lanka as they face the Sri Lankan Navy team and then play an official warm-up match against Papua New Guinea on 5th February.
The tournament itself gets underway two days later with the ten teams divided into two groups of five. Thailand play in Group A and face India in their opening match, then Zimbabwe, Ireland and Sri Lanka. South Africa, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Scotland and Papua New Guinea make up Group B.
India are probably the strongest side in the competition with captain Mithali Raj one of the greats of the women’s game but Thailand recently faced them in the Women’s Asia Cup T20 and gave a good account of themselves. The Thai girls have previously beaten Zimbabwe in 20-over cricket but they do lack experience in 50-over matches.
The top three teams in both groups will qualify for the Super Six stage where they will play off for the last four places available in the 2017 ICC Women’s World Cup. It is sure to be a very exciting competition and a great chance for Thailand women to show off their abilities with bat and ball to a worldwide audience.
Two of the younger players with big futures ahead of them who both learnt the game in Chiang Mai are Nattakan Chantam who was very consistent with the bat during the Women’s Asia Cup and leg-spinner Suleeporn Laomi who was one of the leading wicket-takers in that competition and gave Pakistan a real fright with some excellent bowling.
Thailand’s women cricketers have a wonderful chance to make names for themselves in the forthcoming tournament and the team can still dream of winning a place in the ICC Women’s World Cup in England in June and July 2017.