The Land of Smiles has been united in its grief following the death of their beloved King but the Thailand Women’s cricket team, who were playing in an international tournament in Hong Kong, did their best to bring the nation some comfort.
The very next morning, Thailand faced Nepal, knowing that one more win in the Women’s World Cup Qualifier-Asia would bring them success in the tournament and with it a place in the main qualifying competition for the Women’s World Cup for the first time.
As inspirational captain, Sornnarin Tippoch said, ‘the result of the match did not matter, we were playing for the King’. And the Thai girls played their hearts out even after Nepal had scored an impressive 108 for 4 in their 20 overs.
Nattakan Chantam is back at the top of the order following injury and she played her best innings of the tournament as she hit 23 from 11 balls with 3 fours and a six but at 62 for 7 the match seemed to be slipping away before Chanida Suttiruang made an unbeaten 27 to see her side home by one wicket in a very exciting finish.
This was Thailand’s fourth win in five matches in the Asian Qualifier which also included China, Nepal, and Hong Kong and it gave the team an unassailable lead at the top of the table to bring them yet another triumph in an international competition following a number of successes over recent years.
The Asian Qualifier finished the following day with Thailand defeating hosts Hong Kong and Nepal beating China to finish second behind Thailand. The Thai girls did their grieving nation proud and their amazing captain, Sornnarin Tippoch, was named player of the tournament for her performances with bat and ball and for her powerful leadership qualities both on and off the field.
Several other members of the Thailand team would have been considered for honours with Chanida Suttiruang outstanding with 75 runs and 8 wickets, young leg-spinner Suleeporn Laomi impressive with the ball with 9 wickets at an average of 7.00. It was fitting that 19-year-old opener Sirinta Saengsakaorat saw her side home to victory in the final match against Hong Kong alongside her captain, as the pair walked off together to end a very successful tournament for Thailand.
Noi was extremely modest about her success as she chose to pay tribute to the qualities of their coach, JC Gamage, who has played One-Day International cricket for Sri Lanka and was an accomplished player in first-class cricket.
The captain promised that her team would continue to work hard and would try their best in the World Cup Qualifier and in the Asian Cup which is being held in Thailand from 27th November.
Thailand benefited greatly from touring Sri Lanka in the lead-up to the competition in Hong Kong and so it is appropriate that the ICC Women’s World Cup Qualifier will be staged in Sri Lanka in February 2017 where the top four teams will qualify for the next Women’s World Cup to be held in England next summer.
Thailand will be playing 50-over cricket for the first time in a 10-team tournament which includes the other regional qualifiers, Zimbabwe, Scotland and Papua New Guinea; Ireland and Bangladesh who are ranked numbers nine and ten in the world, as well as the teams that finish fifth to eighth in the ICC Women’s Championship which currently are South Africa, India. Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
This will be a tough assignment for Thailand Women but it is another step upwards in quality for the team, and a notable achievement for the girls themselves and for the country. Thailand has now recorded a place within the top 14 nations in the world for Women’s Cricket.
The Women’s Asia Cup will help greatly in preparation for the tournament and this event being held in Bangkok from 25th November to 5th December. India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal and Thailand are the six teams competing in the ACC Women’s Asia Cup which is a second important international competition to be held in Thailand following the ICC Women’s World T20 Qualifier last year.
These are sad times for the Thai nation, but exciting ones for the Thailand Women’s cricket team.