Young cricketers from Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore join hosts Thailand in Chiang Mai at the end of April, to play the first South East Asia U-14 Championship. “This was something we discussed at the 2010 ACC AGM in Singapore, and it was felt to be a very good step in giving our players tournament practice,” says Cricket Association of Thailand Chief Executive Mohideen Kader.

“The aim is to get them ready for the ACC U-16 tournaments next year,” says Mr. Kader. This U-14 tournament extends the scope of the now defunct Tuanku Ja’afar annual cricket event which was contested from 1991 and 2004 between the senior sides of Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand, which was in itself an extension of former ‘Interport’ competitions. All the players are the product of either cricket playing schools and local clubs, and in the case of Thailand have been chosen from the recent National Youth Games and National Cricket Championships. “We have a good spread of talent from all over the country and this tournament is also a useful exercise in uniting the cricketing elements of Thailand,” adds the CAT Chief Executive.

Practise in Hong Kong and Singapore

Malaysia, coached by Haris Abu Baker, are pre-tournament favourites for their outstanding record of junior cricket development. Singapore, coached by Chetan Surywanshi and Mahesh Kumar have plenty of talent and Hong Kong have a side full of explosive all-rounders. Thailand though, may just have the most hunger to win and could go all the way.

U-13 cricket in Malaysia

“The important thing is that these cricketers get exposed to as high a level of competition as possible. I hope many of them will go on to higher honours for their countries and that this tournament, the preparation, the international environment, the games themselves will help them to develop as young men and as cricketers,” says Mr. Kader. The cross-border South East Asian participation also establishes a framework for the senior SEA Games where cricket will be a demonstration this year in Indonesia, prior to it becoming what is hoped will be a medal sport in 2013.

Thailand's stars of tomorrow

The four Associations have funded the event themselves from the ACC and ICC grants they receive, and it is expected to be an annual tournament with this year’s likely to be in Malaysia. The matches in Chiang Mai will be 25-overs a side, played on turf.

South East Asian U-14 Cricket Championship hosted by Cricket Association of Thailand

Filed April 19th, 2011