A Sawasdee cricket competition for local schools has been an integral part of the San Miguel Chiang Mai International Cricket Sixes since 2000 and the 17th edition of the Sawasdee Sixes Cup was held at Prem International School on 5th March. Seven teams competed at two levels and it was Sahakorn Song School from Mae On who were overall champions, as they won both age divisions.
Sahakorn Song School has long been the jewel in the crown of the schools cricket program run by the Chiang Mai Schools Cricket Alliance (CMSCA) which also came into being in 2000 with the generous backing of the Chiang Mai Sixes which has supported junior cricket in Northern Thailand ever since.
The top division provided a high standard of cricket between three teams, Prem International School, Huai Kaew and Sahakorn II. A double round robin league was contested and it was Prem who had the early advantage as they beat Huai Kaew by 21 runs, but Sahakorn II then beat Prem by 9 runs and it looked like Huai Kaew would beat Sahakorn II to level the table at one win each, before SK II held on to win by two runs in the closest match of the day.
The teams then played a second round of matches with Huai Kaew being rewarded for some good play in their earlier matches by finally winning a match as they defeated Prem by four runs. The competitive nature of the top division was again shown as Prem Panthers beat Sahakorn II by 16 runs as the Mae On School suffered their first defeat of the competition. Rumpole had hit three successive sixes for SK II, but brothers James and Joe also hit powerfully as the Panthers won a high scoring match.
All three teams were still able to win the trophy as Prem and Sahakorn II had each won 2 matches, and Huay Kaew one with the last game being played between Huai Kaew and Sahakorn II. The Prem Panthers were ahead on runs scored and Huai Kaew, champions in 2014, had an outside chance of being declared winners if they managed a convincing victory, but Sahakorn II just needed to win to finish on top with three victories.
Sahakorn II strengthened their team by bringing in their best two players from the younger age group and posted an impressive total as Rumpole again hit cleanly with the bat. Huai Kaew took heart as Bow took wickets with the last two balls of the innings, but they finished 26 runs short and Sahakorn II were deserved champions as they had won three matches, Prem two and Huay Kaew one.
Sahakorn II confirmed they were best overall school as they also won the B division for younger children as they won all three matches, Huay Kaeow won two, the Premettes won one and a very young team from Lanna International School looked after by Principal Hugh Williams enjoyed playing their first ever games of cricket.
Sahakorn Song are long standing members of CMSCA and have taken part in the Sawasdee Sixes Cup more than any other school, so they proved most worthy champions for 2016. Peter Dawson, senior member of the Chiang Mai Sixes Committee, arrived to present the prizes and was delighted to learn of the success of Sahakorn II as he had acted as their first cricket coach and wife Anne had taught English at the school for several years.
The presentations were entertaining as no fewer than seven team trophies were presented and all the children were given medals and very stylish purple Sixes T-shirts as proud parents and teachers took a multitude of photographs.
Rumpole, the hard-hitting batsman from Sahakorn II was declared batter of the tournament, Huai Kaeo's Bow, showing great promise in bowling fast and short, was named bowler of the tournament, and Huay Kaew's captain Pi won the fielder of the tournament award for taking several catches and moving round the field with great determination at all times.
The Sawasdee Sixes Cup was the culmination of the softball season as CMSCA had already brought children from the two government schools to play in the Traidhos Sawasdee Cup in February. The President's Trophy was won by the Prem Panthers with coach Mark Bowyer developing some good young players, and the children from Prem also went on a Mae On tour to Sahakorn II and Huay Kaew to play two matches against both schools.
CMSCA coaches Martin and Puy Papworth and Jun Aryi run regular coaching sessions at Sahakorn II and Huay Kaew and have recently started a coaching program at Lanna International School (LIST) together with Principal Hugh Williams.
Playing softball cricket gives the maximum number of children the opportunity to gain enjoyment from playing cricket at an early age but it is also the first step in developing new players to take up hard ball cricket. The Chiang Mai Sixes have supported this aim by funding a three -ane net at Mae On High School so regular hard ball sessions have been held throughout the school year.
Regular net practices are also held at Gymkhana Club and most Sunday mornings also see the juniors playing practice matches at Gymkhana with the best of the youngsters playing alongside the men in the afternoons.