The U-19 Women’s team prior to leaving for Kuwait

by Richard Lockwood, Cricket Association of Thailand

Venkatesh Prasad and Rumesh Ratnayake were in Chiang Mai in January to conduct an ACC Level I coaching course. Cricket in Thailand will benefit in many ways from their week long visit.

India’s Venkatesh Prasad and Sri Lanka’s Rumesh Ratnayake are two of the world’s leading coaches as well as Development Officers for the Asian Cricket Council so when they came to Chiang Mai to hold a four-day coaching course it was a tremendous opportunity for Thailand’s new coaches. Both were outstanding fast bowlers for their respective countries and both have impressive coaching pedigrees.

Venkatesh Prasad served as India’s bowling coach, working with the likes of Zaheer Khan and Ishant Sharma, and has worked in the Indian Premier League for both Chennai Super Kings and Royal Challengers Bangalore; Rumesh Ratnayake has long been recognized as an outstanding coach and was released by the ACC to coach the Sri Lankan national side for their series against Australia in July and August 2011.

Both men continue to work for the ACC and so 15 of Thailand’s cricket coaches were privileged to attend their Level 1 coaching course, held at Prem Tinsulanonda International School on the outskirts of Chiang Mai in northern Thailand. They were not the only ones to benefit from Prasad’s and Ratnayake’s great experience and knowledge. The pair of former fast bowlers showed the stamina they were renowned for with the ball by working long and hard with the Thailand U-19 women’s team and then holding a fast bowling clinic for some of Thailand’s most promising youngsters.

The two coaches had barely arrived in Chiang Mai when they were brought to the PTIS Oval to meet the Thailand girls who have been preparing for the ACC Under-19 Women’s Championship which are being held in February. They have been staying at the newly established Centre of Excellence at Doi Saket for the last two months, practising hard at the new net facilities and playing regular matches against boys’ teams.

The young girls are coached by two of the senior women’s team, Sornarin Tippoch and Nattaya Boochatham, who were fully involved in the coaching session staged by Prasad and Ratnayake. All aspects of the game were covered with the pair working non-stop as they began with fielding practice and soon staged a game among the girls as they put their theories into practice.

The central theme of the four-day Level I coaching course was that you can watch, listen or talk about all aspects of cricket, but you learn the most when you actually do something, whether batting, bowling or fielding. Watching the two ACC Development Officers working with the girls, you could see clearly what they meant, as they demonstrated each technique and got their young students to carry out the same skills.

Rumesh and Venkatesh’s message was simple: always walk in and throw hard when in the field; bowl straight and eliminate wides, and hit the ball hard and aim at the gaps in the field when batting. Always watch the ball is straightforward advice but it will serve the girls well when they play in Kuwait in February.

With the girls continuing their practice, the two ACC coaches headed to the nets to work with the boys for what was intended to be a fast bowling workshop but proved to be so much more, as they gave one to one advice to batsmen and slow bowlers as well. The boys from PTIS School, some of the younger coaches who are also national players, and boys from the hill tribes who have been playing in Chiang Mai junior cricket will all have benefited greatly.

Again, Venky and Rumesh both had some wise words to finish the session with the boys: get the basics right, practise at least four times a week and make good use of the fine facilities that are now available in Chiang Mai; try to improve some aspect of your game every day; enjoy your training but work hard and most importantly study hard in your academic work.

Several of the boys who spent time with the two coaches gained almost immediate reward as they were selected for training at the Centre of Excellence in Doi Saket to prepare for Thailand’s U-14 and U-16 sides which each have international tournaments coming up in the near future.

This work with the junior girls and boys was just a warm-up for Prasad and Ratnayake who began their four-day Level I coaching course the following day. Fifteen of Thailand’s cricket coaches, some still junior players themselves, and others (like some of the girls) from provinces such as Si Saket and Uttaradit where cricket is a very new game, were put through their paces on every aspect of cricket.

Everything was translated into Thai at each stage with work in the classroom supported by sessions in the gym and on the field. The two senior coaches broke down every technique, whether batting, bowling, fielding or wicket-keeping, into basic steps and their pupils even played a match in which they were keen to show off what they had learnt.

There were also daunting workbooks to fill in but CAT Chief Executive Mohideen Kader and his son Shan who is heading the Centre of Excellence, were both on hand to help the Thai coaches, who all had to give a practical demonstration on some aspect of coaching cricket.

The Thai coaches will soon be putting into practice all they have learnt throughout the provinces of Thailand. The CAT has their own National Youth Championship coming up soon and the cricket is also part of the National Youth Games to be played in Phuket later in the year, so positive results from the course will quickly be seen.

Thailand Cricket Profile

Filed January 20th, 2012