We are gradually getting used to the sheer volume of obligations and commitments required of a team participating in a world cup.
Today is a case in point. Sornnarin Tippoch and Team Manager, Shan Kader fly from Brisbane to Sydney at 6 AM this morning for the Captains Media Day. It involves a live Q & A session with international and national press, and a photo session at the Taronga Zoo.
This is a nerve-wracking prospect. Not only does the reality of sitting face-to-face with the world’s best sink in, Sornnarin also has to navigate a number of complex questions from journalists in front of television cameras. By all accounts, she brings characteristic energy, poise, and aplomb to her responses.
“I’m nervous now! We’re really excited to be involved for the first time. We will look to play our best cricket and we’ll show how we play the game. People back home don’t know me, some people know cricket but it’s not on the television. They will follow us on Instagram and Facebook and will know about our game,” she says.
It is a message you have heard before from Sornnarin and Head Coach, Harshal Pathak, and will no doubt hear again. We are here to play cricket. Good cricket. To show the world we can play good cricket.
Meanwhile, the photo shoot is all fun and games. Sornnarin appears to have found her spirit animal.
Back at the hotel in Brisbane, I encounter my own ‘deer-in-the-headlight’ challenge. Courtney Walsh is the West Indies bowling coach. We find ourselves waiting for omelettes at the egg station, where in sheer panic, I completely bypass his stardom and engage official-to-official. I remind myself that the next time I see him – likely in Perth – I will get a photo.
The team travels to Adelaide, where we will run a coaching clinic for kids at the Campbelltown Memorial Oval tomorrow, before taking on the ‘White Ferns’ on Wednesday.
This evening the City of Adelaide hosts us for an evening cocktail reception. We receive a warm welcome to country from the Kaurna people and a lesson in how to play the didgeridoo. Everyone watches intently as skill required to make four or five different sounds at once becomes increasingly obvious.
Lord Mayor Sandy Verschoor congratulates us on qualifying for the World Cup and hopes we can inspire a new generation of young cricketers. Nick Hockley, the CEO of the T20 World Cup, calls Thailand’s qualification one of the most exciting stories in modern cricket and notes that we are likely to be a fan favourite.
Chanida Sutthiruang and Nattakan Chantam join Harshal Pathak and Sornnarin at the front of the room to answer a few questions. They are nervous, but seemingly less so than the interpreter who twice forgets which language she needs to translate from and into. In her own words, “I need another coffee.”
Coach Harshal once again speaks about the importance of playing good cricket in Australia, but also of the importance of watching and learning from the more established teams. It is a realistic balance, reinforcing the narrative that Thailand is here to compete, but acknowledging that we have a way to go. There will be plenty of opportunities to apply these lessons in the near future, not least at the 50-Over World Cup Qualifiers in June/July 2020. This is only the beginning.
Tomorrow, Shan and I will meet with the five players nominated to do media, to run them through some Q & A scenarios and outline some key messages. The aim is to ease any nerves and allow them to focus on match day. Eventually they will become used to public attention, and media interest.
The night ends at Singh Thai, where the chefs and waiters cater efficiently and generously to our needs. They ask us to let them know if we have dishes that we would like them to prepare specially. If we give them notice, they will scour Adelaide for the right ingredients. It is the kind of quiet, background support that often goes unnoticed in settings such as this. A good meal that tastes like home can do much for the spirit.
Tomorrow it is back out onto the turf for a 3-hour session in the afternoon.
Nishadh Rego is Media Manager of the Thailand Women’s Cricket Team for the duration of the T20 World Cup