Dizzee Rascal’s ‘Dance Wiv Me’ blared around Manuka Oval, but Thailand needed no invitation to be front and centre at The Big Dance.
As the English struggled at 7 for 2 in the second over, the underdogs had their tail up. Both members of Englands’s opening pair walked off with ducks next to their name, and the eleven Thai players needed no music to jump around in celebration.
There was an audible gasp in the media centre after Wongpaka Liengprasert took the low catch of Danni Wyatt at extra cover. Needing a win after their stumble to South Africa, England could not afford to panic, despite languishing in a hole.
Nat Sciver relieved some of the tension with a textbook cover drive off Nattaya Boochatham, calming the nerves for her side. Thailand’s bowlers failed to tighten the screws, Sciver and Heather Knight pushed the result out of reach, and the Thailand team were denied any further celebration. Knight finished with an emphatic 108 not out from 66 balls. England ended on 176-2, with the pair combining in 167-run partnership from just 110 balls.
Captain Sonnarin Tippoch lamented their dip in quality in the bowling and fielding departments while in the field, particularly after their effort against the West Indies, which captured the attention of those beyond the emerging game. England amassed 60 runs in the last five overs in a disappointing slide, which included a dropped catch to push Knight along. The target of 177 was insurmountable, with the Thais finishing 98 runs short after batting out their 20 overs.
Speaking to Emerging Cricket after the match, Nattaya Boochatham, who took the wicket of Amy Jones, acknowledged that the team didn’t capitalise on the strong start.
“Today I think we had a good start from the bowling attack but I think we can bowl more aggressively in the line and length.
“You have to be alert, and bowling also you need to be more consistent. Length and line. If the loose ball comes, they will hit it.”
For Thailand, it is the lessons learned at Manuka Oval that makes their participation invaluable. Touching on this, Boochatham again cited several benefits of playing against the world’s best.
“I’ve learned a lot. Nobody stops the ones (in associate cricket), nobody tries to hit the ball (this) hard.
“(In the) batting, we have to work on our aggression and hitting hard on the ground, and running with more aggression between wickets.”
Captain Tippoch, in dealing with Heather Knight’s masterclass of an innings, adjusted on the fly. Manipulating the field with world-class placement, the Thai skipper may have been excused for thinking she was down a fielder or two. She remained calm at her spot at cover directing traffic, even creating a half-chance of a run out thanks to a clean pick up and throw.
With the bat, the Thai team showed enough to continue their meteoric rise. Nattakan Chantham, perhaps taking notes from the Heather Knight textbook, slashed Anya Shrubsole just forward of point, with her trademark backlift and a shuffle down the track to generate power to beat the infield. Chantham went on to deal out more punishment, swatting a boundary in similar style off the first ball of Nat Sciver’s spell. Nannapat Koncharoenkai split a gap of her own with a cover drive, proving the technical quality in Thailand, though the poor shot that brought her downfall highlighted the need for more match practice. Attempting to cross-bat a full delivery, she left her stumps exposed and was punished.
For Boochatham, who was struck in line and given out LBW first ball, expressed that it was not a matter of being overawed, but instead a matter of executing plans in different conditions.
“The pitch wasn’t a big difference (to the WACA), I think the pitch was good. (The ball) came onto the bat.
“We will bring this experience to the next match.”
Thailand will stay in Canberra for their match against South Africa on Friday, but today’s performance in the nation’s capital proves again that their push to win respect from Full Member peers has been an overwhelming success. For all of the critiquing from those watching the team, and the endeavour to find improvements in them, the general mood is that new heights can be scaled through hard work and continued exposure to Full Member opposition.