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Women’s T20 World Cup: Thailand’s remarkable rise to first global tournament

Thailand captain Sornnarin Tippoch celebrates her side taking a West Indies wicket in their T20 World Cup debut
ICC Women’s T20 World Cup 2020
Venues: Sydney, Perth, Canberra, Melbourne Dates: 21 February-8 March
Coverage: Ball-by-ball Test Match Special commentary on all games on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra, BBC Sport website & app; in-play highlights (UK only) & live text commentary on BBC Sport website & app – fixtures & results and latest tables

Sornnarin Tippoch cried when she left the stage after the Women’s T20 World Cup captains’ pre-tournament news conference in Australia.

It was the culmination of a 13-year journey for Tippoch and her team, who face England in their second group match on Wednesday in Canberra (04:00 GMT).

Just being at the tournament is a victory for Thailand – but they are not here to be patronised. They showed that in their opening match against West Indies.

A struggle with the bat contrasted with some sharp fielding, including a direct-hit run out that gave them their first World Cup wicket.

“The girls, and everybody in the team, have made a lot of sacrifices and put in a lot of mental and emotional effort to be here,” head coach Harshal Pathak told BBC Sport.

“We are going to compete hard, we are going to give it our best – and let’s see how far we go.”

Thailand claim first World Cup wicket with ‘wonderful’ throw

From 40 all out to biggest stage of all

Forty was the number that followed Thailand around for the first few years of their development.

That was the score they were bundled out for in their first international match, dismantled by Nepal as they chased 96 at the Asian Cricket Council Women’s Tournament in 2007.

Tippoch, 33, was one of the first players approached when a Thai women’s team was originally mooted.

There was no women’s domestic cricket league, with the sport mostly played by expats in the country, so players were often recruited from softball and hockey leagues.

It meant that a lot of them were young and inexperienced when they were brought into the national set-up. Batter Nattakan Chantham was just 12 when she made her debut, while Suleeporn Laomi was a track and field athlete.

“They are a great group of people. They are always smiling and you will rarely find anybody sitting alone or sitting quiet,” added Pathak.

“There’s a strong camaraderie between them. They stay together in Bangkok. It’s a great, huge family that enjoy each other’s strength and company.”

There is now a pool of more than 50 coaches across the country, ranging from advanced to beginners, but a balancing act is still needed for many of the players.

Naruemol Chaiwai, who produced the stunning run out in the opening match, told Emerging Cricket