Waiting for a wet outfield to dry is one of the most frustrating experiences a cricketer can have. You spend most of the day helplessly watching the green, itching to get out there and play.
So it is today. The sun is out, and the mercury rises to 34C. By all accounts, the wicket to be used at the Allan Border Oval today is a ‘belter.’ But for some parts of the outfield remaining soft, mushy, and damp from yesterday’s short, sharp downfall, we would have had a game.
We are understandably disappointed with the cancellation of our first T20 World Cup warm up match against Bangladesh. The players have been training indoors for the better part of two weeks. They need a good centre wicket hit-out in order to acclimatize and shake off any last minute issues.
The team takes it in their stride. “We’ll get to Adelaide tomorrow and start again,” says team manager, Shan Kader. The players spend hours playing all manner of games in the dressing room and, later, in the stands.
We aim to watch India play Pakistan in the afternoon, rather than train indoors again. We will face Pakistan at the Sydney Showground Stadium on 3 March 2020. The coaches and players alike are keen to observe Pakistan’s key bowlers and batters; their field settings; their combinations; their running between the wickets.
The second game is also a non-starter.
There are only a handful of journalists around. Snehal Pradhan, the former Indian cricketer and freelance journalist is interested in the team’s story and background. It turns out that the she also played for a state select XI against Thailand the last time we were in Pune. Pradhan interviews Shan and Chanida about the genealogy of the side, and the impact of Chanida’s ICC Women’s Emerging Player of the Year award on her visibility at home and globally. According to Chanida, there has been no significant change. Cricket remains a boutique sport in Thailand.
There is something of a carnival atmosphere at the ground. Music blares in the background. Fans from Bangladesh, Pakistan, and India stream in through the day, posing for photos and soliciting autographs.
One Bangladeshi man and his wife tell us they are happy to see Thailand playing in a T20 cricket world cup. “I knew that Hong Kong plays cricket, but not Thailand,” he said. “It’s wonderful to see you here. All the very best.”
A small contingent of Thai fans joins us at the ground. One patron asks every single member of the travelling party for their autographs. “Yes, support staff too, it’s something different,” he retorts
Another family has been in touch with us on social media since January 2020. Paul and Nikki bring their young daughter over for a photo. “Thanks to the whole team for being so generous with your time. It was such a special moment meeting you all. Very excited to watch you all during the T20 World Cup,” they write in Facebook message later.
I briefly meet ‘Curly’ just outside players’ entrances. He is a fifteen-year veteran of the Chiang Mai Cricket Sixes and has come up all the way from Melbourne to watch us play Bangladesh. He is considering the eight-hour drive to Adelaide for our game against New Zealand. At the time I am reluctant to take his hat into the dressing room to have it autographed. No consequence. He gets to meet the team later in the afternoon.
The team’s Liaison Officer from the ICC Women’s T20 Global Qualifiers in Scotland is at the ground. He has timed a holiday in Brisbane with the team’s stay here. He and his wife unfurl a giant Thai flag over the front the Stuart Law stand.
It certainly feels like these supporters understand the magnitude of our achievement. Their presence is a definite boost!
Tomorrow we fly to Adelaide. Fingers crossed that the weather stays clear and our final warm up game against New Zealand on Wednesday goes ahead.
Nishadh Rego is the Media Manager of the Thailand team for the duration of the T20 Women’s World Cup.