Merely one win is needed for Thailand to secure a place in the ICCT20 World Cup set to take place in Australia next year. This has been a long exciting journey for a country with practically no historical cricket pedigree.
The career of Sornnarin Tippoch is a true reflection of the history of cricket in Thailand. Tippoch used to be a softball player and only got acquainted with cricket at the relatively late age of 20 years old. Only one year later, though, she was captaining the Thai national team. Now, 12 years on in her career, she is standing at the dawn of representing her country in the World Cup. Tippoch comes from a family living as farmers in the small community of Buriram. Buriram is a Thai province situated roughly 400 kilometres from Bangkok. This area has no links to cricket at all, yet when Tippoch was introduced to cricket during 2007, she was immediately excelling in the game.
Tippoch stated that she could relate well with cricket and switching over was easy because it was very similar to softball. Her love for the sport was immediate, and she also soon realized that cricket could be an opportunity for her to represent Thailand on an international level.
The Journey of Growth
During the early days, cricket was mainly a sport played by expats living in Thailand. Mohideen Kader, currently the CEO of Cricket Association of Thailand, has however been playing a vital role in changing that to becoming a sport enjoyed and played by the local Thailand people too. During 2007 a massive drive was launched by Kader to introduce young Thai games starts to cricket. These players, like Tippoch, was then recruited to play cricket for Thailand. From there, it purely became a force going from strength to strength. A massive breakthrough came when the government of Thailand recognized cricket as an official sport of the country. Since then it has grown to a competition involving more than 3 000 women in Thailand, with teams representing different age groups as well as both genders, in all 14 Thai provinces.
It was, however, the exposure which the women’s team had when playing on an international level, which caused the most significant improvement in their game. From 2013 onwards they have been part of the T20 World Cup Qualifier every year. They have also been able to win a Shield final and have been finishing fifth within this eight-team tournament. Winning Papua New Guinea would mean that for 2020 they would be competing in the World Cup.
The hope of Thailand is on this team to do just that, and because their squad has four bowlers who are boasting with the lowest bowling averages in the history of T20, this might be the year of a significant breakthrough for cricket in Thailand.