This week we jump into the way-back machine to take another look at the 2002 Chiang Mai Cricket Sixes.
The principal aim of the Fifteenth Chiang Mai International Cricket Sixes – apart from the competition, devotion to the game and the superb camaraderie generated when some 300 ‘cricket lovers’ congregate for a week in Chiang Mai – is to foster and develop the same dedication to the sport among Thai children.
Already, through large donations from Sixes participants over the years, selfless contributions of coaches Peter Dawson, Eric Little and Brian Wiggins, the Chiang Mai Schools Cricket Alliance was formed, under co-chairmanship of Professor Somboon Suprasert, with some 24 Chiang Mai schools already participating.
Then there are people like tournament director Maurice Bromley and wife Renita who not only work hard to ensure the success of each succeeding event, but also mobilize many others in the common cause of promoting cricket – and, through it – the welfare of Thai children.
Tacit support for Thai children’s participation, “Sawasdee Cricket” also has been forthcoming from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). As H.E. Anand Panyarachun, (former) UNICEF ambassador for Thailand pointed out in his message to the Fifteenth Sixes, “Among the (many) specific rights enunciated by the United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child, is the right to leisure and play… Therefore, the Chiang Mai Cricket Sixes, both directly as well as indirectly, may contribute to these rights through this sport.”
Anatomy of the 2002 Sixes
Admittedly cricket is not everybody’s “cup of tea”, to resort to an out-worn English cliché. But in Chiang Mai, for the duration of the Fifteenth Chiang Mai International Cricket Sixes and the Third Sixes Sawasdee Cricket Cup played out at the 104-year-old Chiengmai Gymkhana Club cricket ground this month, tea was definitely the designer drink. Well, if not exactly tea, the beverage was certainly the same colour, it was served ice-cold and it was consumed in gargantuan quantities by the cricketers, organizers and supporters – morning, noon and night. Let’s call it Carlsberg!
Our own Pattaya Pectels 69 team, one of the record-breaking number which participated this year, while not exactly covered in glory, nevertheless were a strong presence in Chiang Mai and will be a force to be reckoned with in future events. Rob Roberts, Mark Allum, Eddie Blackwell, Steve Ross, Paul Phillips and Mike Kelly were certainly worthy representatives of our “fair city-by-the-sea” in the alien fields of Chiang Mai!
The Aussie team, the Lords Taverners, scraped in with a one-run victory over British group the Gloucestershire Gipsies, to win the Bowl Division, finishing 64-3 (Glen O’Brien 24) to the Gipsies’ score of 63-3. A finish can’t be any closer than that – in any type of sporting competition. In horseracing, it would be called a “photo finish”.
In what veteran cricket commentator and enthusiast Ric Davis called “The most exciting cricket ever seen in Chiang Mai in the fourteen years since the tournaments began in 1988,” (the 2002) tournament, with 30 teams participating, was also the biggest.
In the other divisions of the four comprising the tournament, a maverick team, the British Kiteboys racked up the tournament’s second-highest score, a massive 98-2 (James Bryant 34 ret., Sam Whiteside-McFadden 35 not out) to defeat the Warbler Bunny Club 94-2 (Malintha Warnapura 34 ret.) and take home to cold, bleak England, the Cup title. And that was in spite of – or could that read because of – the vociferous support of the flower-bedecked ‘Bunnies’ in the Bahrain-based Warbler’s camp.
Mike Gatting’s British (to the eyeballs) team, the Ashwell Crusaders 58-0 (Gatting 34 not out, Adrian Cade 24 not out) easily beat the Kirby Vampires 49-3, to win the Plate Division.
In the battle for the Spoon honours, the ‘more-or-lass’ Aussies, the IOS Malakas 48-2 (Marty Burns 27 not out) just held off the Wombats (who MUST be Aussies: by title) who scored 46-3.
The All-Star challenge saw the Sri Lanka All-Stars win the All-Star Challenge Trophy. Although losing game two to the “Rest of the World Team”, the Lankans had racked up more runs in the two games. Game two results: “Rest of the World 71-2 (Meyrick Pringle 35 ret.) beat Sri Lanka 61-1 (Ruchira Palliyagaru 32 ret.).
The last day of the week-long cricket fest saw the highest score of the tournament: 99-1 blasted by the Stockton Seagulls and the mighty batting of new Sri Lanka cricketer Malintha Warnapura who belted 34 within the first over, including three massive sixes. By his mandatory retirement at 34 runs scored, the board showed an incredible 48 runs, believed by the Sixes stalwarts to be a one-over record for the event.
Lest the reporting of the Chiang Mai International Cricket Sixes be accused of chauvinistic bias, we add here that the long-awaited challenge between the ladies’ teams was played out with favourites – and titleholders – Chiang Mai Chassies with a score of 39-2 beating the World Women Dixie Belles 33-0.
Meantime, on the adjacent two grounds, the Thai schoolchildren had their own competition in the Third Sixes ‘Sawasdee Cricket’ Cup. With much excitement and laughter, the Sai Moon A School won the Grade Six competition, while the Sai Moon B won the Grade 5 Division.
A splendid reception, hosted by the Porn Ping Tower and sponsored by the Tourism Authority of Thailand, welcomed the more than 30 teams who have come to the “Rose of the North” for this annual festival of cricket – the world’s most popular event of its kind.
The vice-governor of Chiang Mai, Chidpong Ridhiprasart opened the Sixes competition, commending the organizers and the competitors, particularly for their support of the burgeoning junior cricket programmes, now known as the Sixes Sawasdee Cricket Cup.
The Reich Company again provided the well-organized bus fleet, each adorned with the banner of its respective team and each bus complete with a lovely Chiang Mai lady as a guide: she was often about a third of the size of an individual cricketer but she had the whole situation under control: little or not! The cricketers to a man adored their respective guides!
The opening match of the competition was, appropriately, a game which pitted the Gymkhana Cavaliers, comprising many of the organizers of the event, such stalwarts as Maurice Bromley, Geoff Thompson, Eric Little and their colleagues against the Irish Pub Gang Green, losing 2/43 to 0/44.
Castrol and Coca Cola support
There was a big Castrol banner set back above the eastern boundary of the ground which had a clear message for all: “hit me and you win”. Castrol, as well as Coca Cola, have long supported the Chiang Mai Sixes and more recently, also the promotion of junior cricket in Thailand. Any batsman who, during the course of a game, was able to belt a ball into the 2 ft. X 4 ft. green banner, with a huge black number Six in the middle, could not only win the “Castrol Big Six challenge”, but would actually win twice. The prize? 5,000 baht for every ‘bulls-eye’ of which 3,000 baht went to the successful batsman and 2,000 baht was donated to the advancement of cricket among Thai children, the “Sawasdee Cricket Programme.”
Sound easy? Just ask the Aussie Sawasdee coach, Eric Little, who had the aim, the speed and the timing. But, oh dear! He could not quite ‘lift’ the ball to hit he banner, just passing under it. Like boxing, there was no second prize. Nevertheless, there were two winners over the duration of the tournament – and a few other near misses.
It was appropriate, too, that prior to the Sixes competition, former Castrol CEO Bryan Baldwin OBE accepted tournament director Maurice Bromley’s offer of the chairmanship of the event’s organization – a not inconsiderable task. “There is no question … that the Chiang Mai Sixes is a great tournament, but we are not recognized as such in Thailand,” said Maurice.
“Therefore, we are handing Bryan the unenviable task of trying to gain better recognition and sponsorship,” Maurice added hopefully. “Bryan has been a Sixes supporter for many years and, in fact, brought Castrol and the Trademark Six to us. While he faces a next-to-nigh impossible task, if anyone can do it, Bryan can.”