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Thailand has progressed considerably since the Asian Cricket Council took an interest in it and now stand as one of the true exemplars of cricket development. The game has developed across the large country, spreading out from Bangkok to Chiang Mai and Khon Kaen in the north, Hua Hin in the east and Phuket in the south.
The drivers of change may initially have been the Asian and Anglo-Antipodean expatriates but subsequent progress has been holistic. Once the game was taken to the indigenous population, Thai youth cricketing activity has flourished.
Local Thai boys have a presence in the age-group squads and a number have played for the seniors already. At the start of 2009, nets were put up for the first time in government schools in Chiang Mai.
Facilities are in place in Bangkok and ChiangMai to host multi-venue tournaments and the award of ICC Associate status in 2005 was due recognition of the potential thatThailand shows for cricket. Potential that is, to a large extent, being realised.
Greater exposure to competitive cricket will raise playing standards and allow Thailand to climb the ACC tournament rankings.
"If cricket is to prosper in Thailand, then it needs to develop the local cricketing human capital," says national coach and Association Chief Executive Officer Mohideen Kader. "Not just players but umpires and coaches too."
Women's cricket is also a significant part of development activity and it is here that the sport in Thailand is taking the most significant strides.The women's teams are 100 per cent Thai (in contrast to the 75 percent expatriate men's team) and they are playing some remarkably good cricket for those who have only been active for two years.
"It is a tribute to the Thai character and to cricket that the game isflourishing in Thailand," adds Kader.
Definitely a cricketing nation for the future.