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Anyone for "SAWASDEE" Cricket ?

For over two years now, a group of nutty farangs (well "sports nutty" anyway) have been working hard on their conviction that Thais would make excellent cricket players. Cricket is after all a sport of choice in many hot climes - just look close by at India. It is also a sport where smaller bodies can excell, and where speed and neatness of hand and eye coordination are far more important than muscle and running speed...

The idea grew out of donations made by players in the annual Chiang Mai International Cricket Sixes tournament, and an inititive from the International Cricket Council (ICC) & Unicef, to invite the Sixes to be part of a Global Cricket Week - on condition they staged a children's cricket competition alongside the main event. That was in 2000. The Sixes folk were so impressed by the enthusiasm and natural skill of the Thai school children invited to take part, that it was decided to keep the ball rolling (as it were), and bring cricket to more schools and more children. A simplified version of cricket, called Kanga in Australia, was chosen as the basis for developing the sport for Thai school children aged 8-12 years. The Chiang Mai Schools Cricket Alliance (CMSCA) was formed, with membership open to any primary schools wishing to play.

Over the past 2 years , thanks in very large part to the volunteer efforts of local retirees Eric Little and Peter Dawson funded by donations from Chiang Mai Sixes participants, the CMSCA has developed a programme for introducing their junior version of cricket into local schools. The schools get free playing equipment, and coaching. Teachers are also encouraged to learn how to coach, instruction materials developed in Thai are given to all the schools, and the CMSCA organises regular inter-school tournaments. Today 21 schools in the Chiang Mai area play the sport, and expansion is only limited by an urgent need for sponsorship and more coaches.

Somewhat hidden behind the efforts of the CMSCA and its volunteers, has been the very professional contribution of Brian Wiggins. Brian arrived in Thailand originally on loan to the Thailand Cricket League (TCL) from the Australian Cricket Board. He is qualified to coach up to the second highest level of the sport (Level 3 out of 4), and kindly gave time when he could to helping teach children and coaches in the CMSCA programme. Water under the bridge - Brian fell in love with the idea of developing cricket in Thailand and has stayed on to help the TCL and CMSCA realise that dream. With the take-up of the Chiang Mai programme by the TCL for introduction into Bangkok schools, this junior version of cricket has been given a new name. It is now "Sawasdee Cricket", and Brian Wiggins is hard at work bringing it to Thai schools in the capital.

But, what of the future? Who knows about every child playing cricket in Thailand? India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh all close neighbours to Thailand play cricket and it is their national sport so why not the Thais? The best cricketers in the world are usually people of smaller stature. It has now been proved in Chiang Mai, that Thai children love playing cricket. No, not yet the adult version with a very hard cricket ball, but a children's version with a softer ball. Which is also played in many countries, including Australia and called "Kanga", in England "Kwik" cricket. And now in Thailand "Sawasdee"cricket. As the children progress and grow they become skilled and are soon confident enough to start playing senior cricket.

The pilot program of bringing cricket into the schools in Chiang Mai has been so successful that it seems likely to work in Bangkok too. Mirroring the success of Chiang Mai their only problem will be that there will be a lack of funding for qualified cricket coaches. Chiang Mai alone has 947 Government Primary schools. In one Bangkok district alone there are 325. From the statistics we know there are approximately 1,100,000 children in any one age group in Thailand (ie. children eleven years old there will be 1,100,000). That gives us a potential target of around 3 million children playing "Sawasdee Cricket". Far bigger than the number who now play its very successful Australian cousin "Kanga".

In this school year in Chiang Mai there have been four inter school tournaments already. The year will culminate at the "15th Chiang Mai Sixes" with the 3rd Sixes Sawasdee Cricket Cup, where there will be at least 16 teams playing in two age divisions. In the vicinity of two hundred children will be playing "Sawasdee" cricket over a five day period on two fields adjacent to the main field where the Chiang Mai Sixes will be played. The teams will come from twenty-one (both private and government) schools that have played cricket this year. Some of the smaller schools combine to make their teams more competitive against the bigger schools.

When the programme first started just two years ago, only 3 schools were involved ( Prince Royal's College, Montfort and Chiang Mai International School) with a series of matches during the Chiang Mai Sixes Tournament. Since then, with only volunteer support and donations, the programme has been a roaring success. It's only problem continues to be skilled manpower and funding to continue on it successful path. It is hoped that the Asian Cricket Council (ACC), and/or a corporate sponsor with vision and wisdom will start funding the programme. Until that happens, the Chiang Mai Schools Cricket Alliance (CMSCA) will struggle to maintain the momentum already created. The acceptance has been overwhelming. In addition to 2 more international schools , the programme's biggest growth has been among Thai Government primary schools. In three separate districts of Chiang Mai there are now sixteen primary schools that have their students in grade 5 and 6 regularly coached in playing "Sawasdee Cricket".

All schools wanting cricket to be played as a sport in their school are given a starter pack of "Teachers Notes" book, written in Thai and English (by Eric Little and helpers), with illustrations explaining how to play and coach cricket. Also in the starter package , a quantity of "Students Booklets" explaining cricket in Thai (ideally one for every student), three cricket bats, two sets of wickets and sufficient special soft cricket balls for them to use. They are then given initially at least six or eight days of coaching, which commences in the classroom with explanations and blackboard theory on the aim of the game and techniques of playing the game.

CMSCA believes that bringing cricket into schools does many beneficial things for the children. And "Sawasdee Cricket" is a game that can be played equally by both boys and girls. In addition to the sport itself , the children get hands-on contact with another culture and with some real live practical use of English in a fun learning context. They of course develop their hand-eye coordination at this young age. And they learn team spirit and the ethics of fair play in competitions which pit small Thai village schools in games against big independant city schools. The ever present worry now is that the program may well stall if funding to pay for more coaches and equipment is not found soon.


Chiang Mai Schools Cricket Alliance
'Sawasdee' Cricket Guidelines
2001 - 02

'Sawasdee'Cricket is a junior version of normal cricket with special modifications to make it suitable for young children, both boys and girls, between the ages of 8 and 12. Small people can excel at cricket.
The aim of the game is for each team to score as many runs as possible when they are batting. When bowling the aim is to stop the opposing team from scoring runs and take as many wickets as possible. The team with the highest score is the winner.

The equipment consists of plastic bats, a pair of wickets and a soft ball. No protective clothing. such as pads, gloves or helmets are needed.

The game can be played either in a large in-door arena or out of doors on a large open field or a standard cricket pitch with a reduced boundary.

A pair of 'wickets' 1 metre high on a base are placed at each end of the pitch which is 16 or 18 meters long for Sawasdee Cricket and 2 meters wide. The boundary line of the playing area can be 25 - 35 meters from the wickets depending upon on the age and size of the children.

The "Crease". There is a line marked on the ground one metre in front of the wickets at each end. The batsman stands on the crease when waiting to receive a ball.

Games are played with two teams of 8 players each and you cannot change players during the game. The same players will bat and all will bowl. The batting team bats in pairs, each pair receiving 2 'overs'. (An 'over' is six successive balls bowled by one bowler.)

The batsmen score runs in the same way as normal cricket, either by running between the wickets or hitting boundaries'. (See 'How 'Runs' are scored' below.) A batsman who is 'out', stays at the wicket and the score is reduced by 5 runs.

At the end of each over each player in the fielding team moves around one place and the bowler is changed. In this way each player on the fielding team bowls 1 'over' and fields at all locations around the field, including behind the wicket. (In this position the fielder is known as the 'wicket-keeper').

When the last pair of batsmen on the batting team has received 2 'overs'. the two teams change over; the former batsmen become the fielders and vice-versa. (The complete sequence of batsmen batting for one team is called an 'innings'.)

A game will last about 45 minutes. This can be shortened by reducing the number of players to six or lengthened by each team playing two innings.

How 'Runs' are scored:
A batsman will try to hit a ball so that it does not go near a 'fielder'. A batsman who does this will then run to the wicket at the bowler's end. At the same time the batsman who was at the bowler's end will run to the batting end. In this process the batsmen cross over changing 'ends'. When successfully completed this is called 1 'run' and that 1 'run' is added to the score.

Meanwhile one of the fielders will try to stop the ball and throw it at one of the two wickets, trying to hit the wicket. (Another fielder should go and stand close by the wicket to catch the ball and hit the wicket with the ball if the batsman has not yet crossed the crease line.)

If both batsman cross the crease line at the wicket they are running towards before the ball hits the stumps, then 1 'run' is score
Sometimes it is possible for the batsmen to run between the wickets two, three or more times before the ball is returned to the wickets, in which case two, three or more 'runs' are scored.

If a batsman hits the ball and it crosses the boundary of the field without bouncing, then the batsman scores 6 runs. If the ball hits the ground before it crosses the boundary, the batsman scores 4 runs. No running is needed by the batsmen when a boundary (4 or 6 runs) is scored.

How a Batsman is 'Out':
'Bowled' If the bowler succeeds in hitting the wicket behind the batsman, the batsman is 'out' and minus 5 runs from the score. This happens even if the batsman hits or deflects the ball before it hits the wicket.

'Hit Wicket' If a batsman hits the wicket while attempting to hit the ball, that is 'out', minus 5 runs.

'Caught' The batsman is 'out', minus 5 runs from the score, when a fielder (including the bowler) catches the ball before it hits the ground. For the purposes of this rule the batsman's hands (but not his arms) are regarded as part of his bat. The batsman is still 'out' if he makes accidental contact with the ball and the wicket keeper or another nearby fielder catches it.

'Stumped' Sometimes a batsman will move forward in an attempt to hit the ball more effectively. If a batsman does this, but misses the ball and the wicket keeper catches it and hits the wickets with the ball before the batsman returns behind the crease, then the batsman is 'out'.

'Run Out' If the batsmen are attempting to score 'runs' by running between the wickets and the fielding side succeed in hitting the wicket before the batsman (at that end) has crossed the line of the 'crease', or touched the ground beyond this line with his bat, then that batsman is 'run out'.

Bowling: The bowler must 'bowl' the ball, not throw it. The arm with which the bowler holds the ball must move in a vertical circle and the bowler must release the ball near the top of the circle with the arm straight. At the time the bowler releases the ball at least one foot must be behind the 'crease' at the bowling end.

If the bowler 'throws' the ball or is in front of the crease when the ball is released then the ball is called a no-ball'. A batsman cannot be bowled, caught or stumped out from a 'no-ball' and any runs he scores from it count towards his score.

Wides: A ball which is 'wide' is called "dead ball". A ball is called 'wide' if it fails to reach the crease, goes over the shoulder of the batsman before bouncing or is more than a metre from the centre line of the wicket. An extra ball is bowled after a wide. A second consecutive 'wide' ball scores 2 runs for the batsman and no extra ball is bowled.

Umpire: The 'Umpire' is an unbiased person on the field of play who counts the number of balls during each over, keeps the score and decides on no-balls, run-outs and the like.
The umpire stands behind the wicket at the bowler's end. If a potential 'run-out' situation develops, the umpire quickly moves several yards away to avoid becoming accidentally involved in the action and therefore unable to make a decision.

Score sheet and score board
Standard score sheets are used to help the umpire keep clear records.

The current score in a match is displayed on a large board throughout the game so that players and spectators can be aware of the state of the game.

Peter Dawson, August 2001
Thai conversion by Eric Little, August 2001

The information has been taken from the book "Sawasdee Cricket":

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