There are few better ways to take your country’s first ICC Women’s T20 World Cup wicket than Naruemol Chaiwai’s sensational throw against the West Indies.
Thailand may not have ended their 2020 debut with a win, but it’s safe to say they turned plenty of heads with their frightening fielding against the 2016 champions.
A 78 for nine batting innings perhaps matched the world’s expectations of the debutants, but when Chaiwai fired that bullseye direct hit at the bowler’s end to see off opener Lee-Ann Kirby, any misconceptions were blown out of the water.
And the excitement didn’t stop at one wicket. That sensational run-out sparked what at one point looked like a potential upset from the debutants in the opening game at the WACA.
From there, Thailand’s bowling and fielding was a joy to watch. Having struggled to build with bat, they knew they had to use their strength as a lifeline.
They took to the field without fear, quickly sneaking a second wicket when Soraya Lateh bowled Hayley Matthews for her first international victim before Suleeporn Laomi was quick on her toes to run out the dangerous Deandra Dottin just after the Powerplay.
But for a DRS reprieve for Shemaine Campbelle, West Indies were briefly 27 for four at the WACA and well in danger of being on the wrong end of an upset.
“We think our performance will make people take us more seriously,” said opener Nattaya Boochatham.
“We have an aggressive mentality and we know it only takes ten bowls to create wickets. That’s the plan we stick to.
“We trust our fielding a lot to get us far in the competition. It has given us motivation to do better and show we can compte on the global stage.”
With many of the Thailand team, including captain Sornnarin Tippoch, originally crafting their sporting trade as university softball players, fielding was always going to be their strongpoint.
They could have given West Indies more of a scare had they been more effective with the bat, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be finetuning their fielding - even when it’s done in a less conventional way.
“We did a lot of meditation the night before our opening game,” added Boochatham.
“I practice that a lot, thinking about the lines I am going to hit with the bat and ball.
“We like to visualise the positive mindset and cricket we wanted to show, and reinforce the positive thought pattern to start the day in a good way.”
A debut win may have eluded them in Perth, but Thailand’s fielding exploits will have sent a serious statement to the world of cricket.
Tippoch had spoken before the game about their understanding of the magnitude a T20 World Cup brings, wanting to take cricket beyond the traditional roots from which it was born.
So while they may be here enjoying every moment, there’s more to this Thailand side than smiles – they’re in Australia with a point to prove, and they’re already making it.
Note: This article was first published on ICC’s official website.
Respond to this article with a post
Share your perspective on this article with a post on ScrollStack, and send it to your followers.