These have been testing times for players or followers of cricket across the world but it is great to be able to report that cricket has returned in style to the Land of Smiles in Thailand. The sixth edition of the Koh Chang Beach Cricket competition was held from 21st to 23rd August with a record number of 16 teams from across Thailand heading to the tourist island.
Teams came from Koh Chang, Pattaya and Phuket with the British Club and defending champions Black Parrots representing Bangkok and last but not least three teams from the north in the form of Lanna, Lamlhun and CMSCA. There was also a record number of junior cricketers involved with the three teams from the North of Thailand and the four local Koh Chang sides all giving youth its chance so that more than 30 young Thai cricketers were involved.
The decisive contests came early in the tournament as the CMSCA kids surprised pre-tournament favourites Lamphun in the opening match on Friday afternoon. Early next day Lanna, boosted by Chanchai and three other young Thai players, defeated the veteran Black Parrots who had been looking for a three-peat. A long day's cricket on Saturday saw a remarkable 18 Sixes-style matches staged so that the group matches could all be completed before finals day.
Teams from the four groups were then divided into four divisions depending on their finishing position and the top division included CMSCA who won all three matches, Lanna, and the two sides from Patong in Phuket. North and South were separated in the Cup semi-finals and Chinstrap Penguins overcame Little Blue Penguins in the first semi-final while CMSCA also reached the final as they held their nerve to defeat Lanna who had selected the three youngest CMSCA kids in their team to make sure everyone got cricket on the final day.
The four finals were held on the Sunday afternoon in reverse order as the Pattaya Stallions won the Chop Sticks after proving far too strong for the local Dads Army. Lamphun won the third division as they beat the Koh Chang Young Ones and were rewarded with the Egg Cup which was in fact a shot glass with an egg in it, and the two young teams went off for a coaching session with the more experienced Lamphun passing on their skills to the local youngsters.
The Pattaya Thoroughbreds lived up to their name by winning the second division after they had dispatched the Black Parrots in the semi-finals with Jaznish hitting the wily (normally) Tony Slatter for five sixes in a five-ball over and then beat local favourites Palmy Army in the final to win the Plate.
The Cup Final was the most competitive match of the final afternoon with some very tidy bowling throughout. CMSCA kids had batted first and posted a modest score but still had hopes of winning the match as Chatree ran in to bowl the final over, needing one wicket (minus five runs) to put CMSCA ahead. It was not to be as he charged in but lost his control, so it was Chinstrap Penguins who won the Cup but the boys from Chiang Mai were delighted with their runners-up trophy and Chatree was still named as bowler of the tournament for his earlier efforts. Pressure affects all cricketers even on the beach.
Thanks go to Steve Perry for all his efforts to put on a wonderful tournament and for providing rooms in the wonderful Serenity Resort for the junior teams from Chiang Mai and Lamphun. Martin Peters from Lanna Rehab again provided a generous donation, and Lanna CC, the club, the players and the officials, all provided their support so the juniors could benefit from a wonderful weekend on the beach.
We had all proved that Covid 19 could not stop us playing cricket especially when it is played on the beach in Koh Chang and it was remarkable that 16 teams and so many junior cricketers could take part in a wonderful festival of cricket. Plans are already underway to invite all these teams to play in a sixes tournament at Chiang Mai Gymkhana Club in November to show that, even with international travel restrictions, enjoyable cricket events can still be staged.