All those years of Thais being thought ‘not right’ for cricket and here you have one full team of Thais and one half-team of Thais, so are Thais suited for cricket?

Thais aren’t actually that specially athletic but something about the order and discipline and flow of cricket is what everyone likes – from my days when I was playing rugby and cricket in Thailand I realised that there’s too much shouting and running here and there in rugby compared to cricket.

Why has Chiang Mai become the place for creating cricketers?

I think, compared to Bangkok, there’s less distraction and there is Gymkhana and Prem but really it’s because, like Khon Kaen, cricket is offering these non big-city children a chance to play an international sport and get some pocket-money and do a bit of travel. There’s football also but that’s a big road and a big sea. Cricket under CAT (Cricket Association of Thailand) is more concentrated. Someone good has a good chance straight away.

My son and Kader’s sons for example grew up watching their fathers play and so had cricket from the start but then studies in Bangkok and the need to earn money meant that cricket had to be sacrificed in my son’s case. The Thai age-group sides and senior sides over the years have many boys who can only play for a little while either because they have to leave Thailand or their parents make them concentrate on studies.

Khon Kaen’s U-16 cricketers, winners in Chiang Mai 2007

Who’s harder to introduce cricket to, the parents or the children?

The parents definitely. They’re the ones insisting on studies all the time. I often have to speak to them just to say that a child needs some rest and play at least for one day of the week.

How did you get to be such a high-level curator?

I had the time and Thailand had the need! Gymkhana took some work to get in basic shape and needed someone to just know the basics and it is now well looked after by Eric Little. Prem up to five years ago was just swamp and getting that into shape needed some big input. I knew the Prem School owner Montri and sold him on the idea of a cricket ground, the ACC helped a lot and now here we are: two beautiful grounds in Chiang Mai with very good cricket wickets.

What are the characteristics of the wickets at Gymkhana and Chiang Mai?

Gymkhana has a dew-point of 19 degrees and because it is cold up here it means that there’s quite a bit of dew in the mornings (the playing season runs from November to April in the Thai ‘winter’), this means that there’s quite a bit of life in the wicket for the fast-bowlers early on. In the afternoons it starts taking spin.

Prem is a great surface, you can use the same wicket two days in a youth match, no problem. It’s good for batting and bowling, actually better for batting because it’s so fast with a quick outfield.

You must wish you were playing on them yourself?

Very much so, yes. But my day has gone. My job now is to make sure that cricket goes on in Thailand.

What are your ambitions for Thai cricket?

Kader and I have looked forward for a long time to have a Thai team with Thais playing in it, acting like Thais, speaking like Thais. We’re about half-way there now. Next I would love to see a Thai team go to England and play at Lord’s and play well. We have hosted the MCC here, if we’re good enough and we raise the money I’m sure they’ll be happy to host us there. That would make me very happy.

Filed December 9, 2008